Nicholas School Internship Blogs

Caution!! Boot strapped entrepreneur behind the wheel: We’re up and running!
by -- June 17th, 2014

When you think you’ve seen it all, think again. Friday the 13th of June marked the end of my second week of work in Querétaro, México, and oh boy was it action packed.

In my two weeks of working with a post start-up healthcare provider, I’ve witnessed the raw madness that the CEO (founding entrepreneur) confronts on a daily basis, from day-to-day operations to high level strategic decisions; stressing the need for great general management skills and techniques. He does this all while keeping his ‘hands on the wheel and foot on the gas’; not wanting to ‘slow the bus down’ and thinking he’s driving corporate strategy with every decision made.

However, many of the decisions made in this small and resource strapped dialysis clinic system are made without the benefit of quick, reliable, and transparent information; particularly fiscal decisions. Team members in key functional areas who provide decision support to the CEO have been handicapped by inefficient and convoluted systems. Consequently hindering company growth and investor engagement.

One of the two trips to México City that I’ve been a part of was to update current investors on the pressing need for more capital, due mostly to construction cost for the soon to open clinic blowing by its original budget and threatening continuing operations. Well, as you may imagine, that was not good news for the fund manager. My boss was put on blast for not keeping his eye on company liquidity and for installing ‘nice to have’ solar panels. Clearly the clinics are not funded by an environmentally friendly venture capital fund…at the end of the day it’s about making money for risk tolerant investors.

The second trip to the Distrito Federal (México City) was way more exciting. It was to follow-up on an investment pitch that was previously made to another venture fund looking to add my boss’s company to their portfolio of social-impact organizations. This second round of venture funding would contribute a few million dollars to our clinic system and support our very aggressive growth strategy.

At first I felt as if I was in a Wall Street movie because of all the suits and corporate environment that I was surrounded by. I mean I was sitting in a nice conference room that was housed in one of the largest international banks, overlooking one of Mexico’s national monuments (El Angel de La Independencia). And to get to see how, and listen as, an entrepreneur tried to confidently sell his company to a prominent investment firm was priceless! I was even “sold” as one of the many company assets and got to participate in the pitch. WOW what an internship…thank you Duke!!

Now this is where I really come in. These past two weeks I’ve been implementing a home grown reporting tool that consolidates financial data and pegs it against clinical and operational statistics to allow for accessible, transparent, reliable, and insightful reporting. In other words, intelligent decision support for the CEO and the management team.

So when I saw the man on the highway driving that skeleton of a truck to México City, I could not help but use it as an analogy of how my boss is managing to keep his business moving forward, and providing much needed dialysis services, with a less than adequate set of business tools to help guide his organization.

P.S. Do you really think the seat belt the driver is wearing will keep him from flying out of the wooden chair he is sitting in? I’m telling you when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t.

Jose Magaña Paredes
Master of Business Administration
Master of Environmental Management
Candidate 2016, Duke University
Fuqua School of Business
Nicholas School of the Environment

Up and running!

Up and running!

6 Comments

  1. Mario Velarde
    Jun 17, 2014

    Fun blog to read, Jose.
    Sound business decisions should not be made solely on financial information, but to make them without knowing all of the financial consequences is worse than driving that skeleton trailer. At least that driver knows the risk and his destination. If you ever get the chance, I’m really interested in the reporting tool that you are creating.

    • Jose Magana Paredes
      Jose Magana Paredes
      Jul 4, 2014

      Mario. I’ll share more over the tools I’m creating in my last blog where I summarize my summer work. Stay tuned!

  2. Dolores Trujillo
    Jun 18, 2014

    wow, very interesting to hear about all the new thing you are learning and all the business knowledge you are sharing andacquiring. We are all proud of the work you are doing 🙂

  3. Travis Cork
    Jun 18, 2014

    Business decisions should be made on sound financial information. Unfortunately, because of government interventions in all economies (including the American version of crony capitalism or is it crony fascism) that distort price signals, sound financial information is not available.

    • Jose Magana Paredes
      Jose Magana Paredes
      Jul 4, 2014

      I agree with you Travis that business decisions should be made on the basis of sound information, but if that was the case their would be very few trades over the stock exchanges.

      I feel that entrepreneurs often fly by the seat of their pants until they hit real barriers where information provides the only means for safe passage.

  4. travis
    Jul 8, 2014

    One reason they seem to be flying-by-seat-of-pants is that the price signals in our fiat-currency system are distorted. Even with accurate price signals there will be entrepreneurial failure. But, the failure will be limited to the entrepreneur and his support. Bubble pops like we had about 2007 were widespread failures that had nothing to do with entrepreneurs.

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