Report Index


Ryan Fukushima, MBA '13
Associate, TechStars-Chicago

A quest to transition from technology consulting into entrepreneurship took Ryan Fukushima, MBA '13, from his home in sunny California to the Ross School and Zell Lurie Institute. “I was attracted by the alumni network and the wide-ranging programs,”he says. “The student-run investment funds are unique.”High on his priority list was learning how to build a business. “My New Venture Creation class and other entrepreneurial-studies courses were very well-rounded and brought a lot of functional concepts about sales, marketing and operations together,”Fukushima says. During a 2012 Marcel Gani summer internship, he put this holistic approach into play and immersed himself in an entrepreneurial setting at San Francisco-based start-up Tapjoy, a monetization and distribution services provider for mobile applications. “I led Tapjoy's Facebook mobile-advertising campaign and helped the company become a marketing developer for Facebook,”he says. “It was a huge win.”Fukusima's fascination with the investment side of entrepreneurship prompted him to sign up for venture-capital courses and join the student-led pre-seed Frankel Commercialization Fund, now the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. He and his team invested $80,000 in Fusion Coolant, a Detroit technology company spun out of the University, and then attracted other venture capitalists who co-invested an additional $750,000 in the start-up. Fukushima applied his venture-investing knowledge and fund experience at the 2013 Regional Venture Capital Investment Competition, where his five-member team placed second. “The things I learned through the Zell Lurie Institute about becoming an entrepreneur and navigating through the phases of starting a business have been invaluable,”says Fukushima, who received the Institute's Valenti Award for Exceptional Entrepreneurial Achievement. After graduation, he accepted an associate's position at the TechStars-Chicago business accelerator program. “Now I can provide advice to other start-up companies and help them get to the next level,”he adds.