The MGSMAA Board is calling on MGSM Alumni entrepreneurs to contact us with ideas on creating their own for profit businesses which help reconnect alumni, contributing to the development of an MGSMAA ecosystem of alumni support services. Business opportunities may include: consulting businesses, post MBA Education services, coaching firms, recruitment services etc.
In April 2021, the MGSMAA Board approved a strategy to encourage the development of an MGSMAA Ecosystem of for-profit businesses to encourage additional innovation and product development around our central member value proposition of reconnecting MGSM alumni.
We want to speed up the development of valued alumni membership services, but with our current association resourcing of volunteers, progress towards building a sustainable membership service offering has been slow.
This is mainly because our resources so far have been thin and volunteer by nature - mainly board members who are busy in their own careers and simply cannot devote sufficient time and energy to perform the intensive hands-on work required to build services on an unpaid basis. Additionally, we have not yet developed a funding model to support paid employees in the association to relieve the burden on board members.
Consequently, this Ecosystem strategy is being proposed as a way to speed up alumni service development by:
· Quickly creating a broader range of attractive member services and offerings that members and prospects will highly value
· Unleashing the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit amongst our cohort
· Tapping more fully into the latent commercial value of our MGSM network
· Generating a significant revenue stream for the association to complement and justify membership fees to better resource the association
The type of business ecosystem that we are proposing is a network of aligned commercial and organisational partners where the goals of each party are both promoted and advanced by active collaboration under a united purpose of helping reconnect our alumni and a common value system.
This works because the MGSM Alumni Association will set and maintain the operating principles, but rely on the individual businesses to work towards and be rewarded according to their own commercial drivers aligned to the common goals and motivations of all stakeholders:
· MBA Students – to build and broaden their commercial networks through choosing MGSM
· MBA Alumni – to stay meaningfully connected with their alumni network
· MBA ex-lecturers – to create post-MGSM employment income generating opportunities, capitalising on the ex-lecturer’s network within the association
· Alumni entrepreneurs – to create for profit businesses utilising and strengthening their MGSM alumni network
Success of this Ecosystem of for profit businesses will bring about many beneficial outcomes, the key ones being:
· A major point of differentiation to other MBA programs that reinforces the enduring value of the MGSM degree & experience, more so than any rankings system alone
· A way for us to maintain and grow the reputation of the MGSM cohort
· A meaningful way for alumni to develop deeper bonds and beneficial relationships with fellow alumni – more than can be achieve by occasional social contact
· A chance for members to access high quality opportunities and services where their needs and mutual characteristics are the central focus
· A chance to champion commercial success for individuals and groups within the cohort
The Structure of the Ecosystem
For simplicity, we are proposing a simple three-layered structure that clearly delineates the characteristics, roles and responsibilities of each party.
Layer 1 – MGSMAA
The current association as governed by our objectives and managed by the Board and management team would be the host organisation and responsible for the following roles within the network:
· Setting the principles and guidelines within which the for profit businesses work, including:
- The scope and expectations of the alumni service offering and the ecosystem participation
- The compliance with data, privacy and any other legal requirements
- Clarity on legal status and relationship to MGSMAA
· Approves the initial participation of ecosystem for profit businesses according to said guidelines.
· Monitors the performance and compliance of the ecosystem partners through member satisfaction and other metrics.
· Manages the ecosystem partner relationships – reviewing or terminating arrangements where necessary.
Communications and Marketing Promotions Role
· The MGSMAA will promote the approved ecosystem businesses through, for example, articles in our eDMs and on our website, creating events for interested parties to launch their new services etc.
Member Services Role
The MGSMAA will continue to offer the basic membership services such as:
· Member Portal
· Chapters & Special Interest groups
· The Ask Pat service
· Member support and billing etc
For Profit Businesses
The second layer of the Ecosystem are the for profit businesses that are created by MGSMAA members specifically to operate commercially with other alumni and their networks according to their own business model. See the later section for more details of what these businesses could look like.
The responsibilities of these cohort businesses would be:
· To be solely responsible for their own financial and legal management obligations under the Corporations Act or other relevant legislation (no liability will be assumed by MGSMAA).
· To maintain Ecosystem governance and compliance obligations
· To report into the MGSMAA Board or representative on an agreed schedule
· These specific responsibilities will be outlined in the business proposal submitted to the MGSMAA Board to gain approval to operate within the Ecosystem
· They must not cross over or be confused with any of the member services provided by the MGSMAA
· Their member services are not likely to be granted any exclusivity within our cohort businesses, e.g. we may end up assisting the creation of multiple consulting and post MBA education businesses.
Examples of services that may be provided via cohort businesses are outlined in the following section.
These are existing businesses or organisations that we choose to have a commercial relationship with, in the interests of providing additional services or benefits to our members.
Good examples of this include AmCham and Realise Business, two organisations that conduct regular business events that should appeal to our alumni and who are agreeable to providing:
· Discounted tickets to our members
· Allowance for us to host our own MGSMAA tables at these events
· Potentially cooperating in joint events or activities
The benefit of these relationships is that we can achieve some of our member objectives without the requirement to build and deliver the content and manage the full event logistics.
We are now launching our membership of AmCham in Australia, providing discounted tickets to AmCham events and the ability for us to host MGSMAA tables at their events. We are looking for other organisations to create similar relationships with to extend the value offering to our alumni by simply tapping into an existing infrastructure.
The For Profit Ecosystem Business Model
Types of Businesses
For illustration, here are some of the types of businesses that have been discussed by the Board and that could be developed as stand-alone for profit businesses working within our Ecosystem:
There is a clear opportunity for post MBA alumni education services leveraging our network of alumni consultants and ex-faculty as the Education Providers and targeting (initially at least) the alumni database as clients.
CEO Support Groups
The idea is to establish peer groups of 10-14 business leaders (most commonly SME owners), managed and facilitated by a paid Chair. The purpose is to assist these people in their senior leadership roles through facilitating ongoing education, coaching and peer support on a structured basis - typically via monthly workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions with the Chair.
Our alumni can operate in either the business ownership and management layer, in the employed Chair roles, as guest speakers, or as CEO participants.
Business Advisory Boards
Another idea is to recruit for and chair Advisory Boards specifically for a client business. This is an offering most commonly taken up by growing private enterprises as a transition between the simple owner manager governance stage to a fully formed Board of Directors.
Alumni involvement in this model can be as business owners and management, as the employed Chair of an Advisory Board, as employed board members, or as a client business owner/manager.
There is also a potential tie in with the education business who could help train suitably qualified alumni for either Chair or member roles (a small-scale version of the Company Directors course).
There are plenty of opportunities for management consulting businesses to be created whereby suitably qualified alumni and/or ex lecturers join together to design and deliver commercial consulting projects for government or enterprise.
The existing alumni base already contains a large percentage of independent consultants who could be united under an MGSMAA collective model(s).
Another opportunity is for one or more businesses to headhunt within the MGSM alumni, providing services to our alumni and potentially profitable business opportunities.
Business Model of For Profit Businesses
These potential businesses will vary in their structure and service offering with some common characteristics:
All businesses will be privately owned in their own right, with no legal relationship to the MGSMAA. Therefore, all financial & legal responsibilities will rest solely with the principals of these businesses and not MGSMAA.
Businesses are free to choose whether they will be proprietary companies, partnerships, sole traders etc., setting up and administering the business as a normal private entity.
It is an expectation that all for profit businesses within the ecosystem will include a revenue sharing stream towards the MGSMAA in their business model. This could be a structured x% or $xx of every course sold or a royalty stream such as x% of overall sales or gross sales, etc.
Do you have some ideas for reconnecting alumni?
We welcome approaches from alumni entrepreneurs wishing to brainstorm for-profit business opportunities or affiliate businesses which will provide benefits to alumni. Please call Rebecca Murray on 0419 633 346 to discuss.