Black Coral Island Workshop Weekend Getaway

Last weekend, Jessi and I traveled with 18 students of the Center for Entrepreneurship to Black Coral Island. Black Coral is a small barrier island that you can rent for a reasonable price and offers solitude and a breathtaking natural environment. The students spent hours playing volleyball, swimming, and dancing during the night. We also had several talented cooks who made the group sashimi, grilled tuna, and marinated chicken.IMG_2841.jpg

Although the students spent much of their time simply enjoying the time away, they also learned the basics of the Business Model Canvas. The Business Model Canvas begins with a single piece of paper that gives its user the ability to sketch out a business. It includes a section for the needs and problems, customer segments, unique value proposition, costs, revenue, and other important aspects of a successful business.img_2721

I provided small student groups a Business Model Canvas with the needs/problems filled out. Each group worked with me on developing creative solutions to these needs/problems and to complete the rest of the canvas. Groups imagined businesses to fit the FSM’s unique needs, including a taxi app, a reef conservation cooperative, a employer/employee matchmaking service, healthy snack options, and others. The groups then spent the next 24-hours testing their ideas by surveying other students on their services and prices. The results varied from some teams actually undervaluing their services and eventually increasing their prices to other groups that had do a complete pivot on their idea. img_2798

In the end, the students learned that getting business ideas off the ground doesn’t always require a 60 page business plan. Instead, they can quickly come up with an end-to-end business model and then adjust through market research and testing before they fully commit to an idea.IMG_20161119_144114.jpg

It was a really fun weekend full of great food, fun, and breakthroughs. We plan to host another one next semester so please stay tuned.img_2852


The Center Takes a Hike

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The Center for Entrepreneurship gathered over 20 students to do the infamous Six Waterfalls Hike.  It was a real treat to be with some of my best and brightest students outside of the classroom.  The hike is pretty tough, so I worried some of my students would struggle.  To my pleasant surprise, they handled the hike with ease.  I should have known better.  Although none of my students had been on this hike before, they all grew up in this jungle, and many did the hike in flip-flops or barefoot twice as fast as the rest of us.

The Center had a great first year.  We managed to start several small businesses, host successful competitions, and complete several workshops.  Most recently, we learned that two participants of the Grant Writing Workshop received grants from the Global Green Fund.  One participant will receive around $5,000 to build a water catchment system in her village, while the other also received $5,000 to help start a meat processing center here at the College to manufacture local pork products.  I am extremely proud and feel immensely lucky to be a part of the Center and look forward to our next year.

Update on the Center for Entrepreneurship

The Center for Entrepreneurship has been really busy!  I’ve hired a new assistant, Yuuki Omura, and it’s really helped to get several programs up off the ground.  To keep up to date with happenings at the Center, you can follow our facebook page.

Most recently, the Center received a visit from Susan Yamada, who is the Director of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Hawaii.  We conducted a round table where students were free to talk to her about her experiences as both the director of an entrepreneurship center and as a tech tycoon back in Silicon Valley in the 1990s.

I’m also proud to announce that some of my students have worked hard to create 4stars, a web development company.  They just finished a project for Cliff Rainbow hotel.

Eni Pein & Traditional Pohnpei

Jessi and I were privileged to have the opportunity to sit down for traditional dance and a sakau ceremony at Eni Pein Eco-Tourism in southern Pohnpei.  It was an amazing experience and we were quite impressed with the hard work the people in this community have put into maintaining their culture.

If you’re visiting and want to spend some time in a small community learning local customs and exploring the island, you really can’t beat Eni Pein.  They have beautiful traditional huts for sleeping and a great local cuisine.  The infamous six waterfalls hike is nearby and so are the ancient ruins of Nan Madol.  Feel free to contact us if you want to learn more!

Quick Trip to a Private Island on the Reef

My first post.  How exciting!  I am Jessi’s husband, Mason.  I moved to Pohnpei on August 22, 2015 as the Director of the new Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Micronesia.  It’s been a great couple of months and we love it here.  I thought I would post about a great weekend I had on a small island near our home.IMG_20150905_094325

I took a boat trip about a month ago with my landlords and their extended family to a small island owned by a relative.  We first rode in the back of a pickup truck to the small harbor on the west side of the island.  We then took a 10 minute boat ride out to the island, which was just a small bit of land rising out of the ocean where the barrier reef of the island meets the Pacific Ocean.

IMG_20150905_120044For much of the day, I wandered around to nearby islands by foot in the shallow waters.  I spent hours snorkeling on the lagoon side, staying as calm as possible so the fish would approach me.  The waters were littered with these beautiful blue starfish that you will see in the video included with this post.  My landlord, Ken, took me to the Pacific side of the island where we swam out a ways for spear fishing.  He dove down a good 20 feet to reach the fish and was able to snag a few that we ate  later on over the grill.  I also spent a fair amount of time just lounging under a mangrove tree with a beer in my hand.  It was a magical little place that I hope to take Jessi to in the near future.

I attempted my first GoPro movie on this trip as well and thought it would be good to share.  Enjoy!