2017 Babson Rising Stars: Part 1
At the 2017 Celebrating Achievements in Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® (CAETA) event in April, Babson named four alumni of its undergraduate and graduate programs as Rising Star honorees.
Touring musician and founder of Road Dog Music Group, Jamie Kent ’09 walked onstage and shared that he is often asked how being an entrepreneur and a songwriter work together. They are more connected than most people realize! What Jamie gained most from Babson is an entrepreneurial filter through which to observe the world. When entrepreneurs walk down the street, they see the world differently. They see opportunities that other people don’t. Jamie related this to being a musician because they have a “song-writing filter.” Jamie will notice that a problem exists and then try to find the right way to present it in a song.
For example, as people walk down the street, they would walk into Jamie because they were texting on their phones. Some would even walk directly in front of his moving band van! Jamie’s frustration culminated when he read an article about a man who walked into a bear while texting. After reading this article, Jamie had to turn his thoughts into a song. This led him to write “Look Up,” a song about how people miss important moments in life because they are absorbed by their smartphones. As a songwriter and an entrepreneur, Jamie knew he could combine these passions to address a serious problem and make an impact.
The next Rising Star honoree was Abby Speicher Carroll MBA’15, a WIN Lab alumna and a winner of the 2015 B.E.T.A. Challenge competition. Abby is the co-founder and CEO of award-winning company DARTdrones, a national leader in drone training and certification. She began by playing a video to introduce the audience to her female-owned, military-founded family business.
Afterward, she told the audience that two years ago, Babson gave her an amazing opportunity by selecting her as a winner of the Babson Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® (B.E.T.A.) Challenge. At the time, she had little more than an interesting idea. The DARTdrones team was just Abby, a laptop, and a 15-year-old web designer that she met in Dunkin’ Donuts and paid with coffee. With the money she won from the B.E.T.A. Challenge, Abby hired the company’s first five summer interns, all of which were Babson students, and joined the Summer Venture Program. She credits these first five employees for truly building the foundation of DARTdrones.
After figuring out the logistics of hosting classes in Boston with three flight instructors, they decided to expand nationally. The team put their heads down for a year and focused on building a scalable business model. One year ago, DARTdrones had 22 flight instructors in over 20 cities. The entire company was being run by three Babson graduate students and only one course was offered. Today, DARTdrones has more than 14 full time employees and 42 flight instructors all over the country. They offer seven different types of courses and have trained more than 4,000 students from organizations such as CBS, HBO, the Arizona Cardinals, and dozens of police and fire departments, including the Boston police (which flew drones over this year’s Boston Marathon!). DARTdrones also offers full-time consulting packages which help organizations launch drone companies within their businesses. Most recently, DARTdrones was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. Abby expressed that she truly does not know where she would be without Babson and the education she received here. She is eternally grateful to Babson for giving her the tools to start her company and fulfill her dreams.
Check back for part two of this blog series to read Dr. Candida Brush’s interview with the remaining Rising Star honorees, Karim El-Gamal MBA’11, and Michael Kasseris MBA’11!