Two Daniels MBA Students Help Businesses Become B Corporations

June 02, 2016

Jacklyn Ward and Betsy Fischer believe businesses can be much more than a profit source for their owners or shareholders. They have a passion for aligning companies’ vision, values, and purpose with their internal practices.

It’s a passion they realized during their full-time MBA program at the Daniels College of Business. Ward and Fischer graduate June 3 from program. They’re two of more than 240 students who will graduate that day in MBA and MS programs from the College.

During their program, they launched Castle Gray Consulting LLC., or CGC. CGC uses the B Corporation (B Corp) assessment as a framework to analyze the company and identify improvement opportunities. Companies can also choose to go further in the B Corporation process and seek certification.

Jacklyn Ward

Jacklyn Ward

Ward and Fischer use the insights gained from the B Corp assessment to help companies develop strategies to be better businesses or incorporate the B Corp certification into their business models. B Corps are for-profit companies that meet environmental, social, accountability and transparency standards. Ben & Jerry’s, New Belgium Brewing, and Patagonia have jumped on the trend and are now Certified B Corporations.

“The idea came when we were consulting for a wine group and touring through a sustainable vineyard in Sonoma,” Ward says. “We had just finished our first B Corp project and realized there are many companies who could benefit from this type of consulting.”

One of their clients, fishpond, a company that designs, develops and delivers products in the fly fishing market, were looking to gain a competitive advantage by capitalizing on practices they felt were already socially responsible.

Betsy Fischer

Betsy Fischer

“Betsy and Jacklyn were instrumental in the process of evaluating the areas of our business where we were already performing well and areas we could improve,” says Ben Kurtz, president of fishpond. Ultimately, their consulting firm helped fishpond become the first company in the fly fishing space to become B Corp certified.

“They had experience and were able to guide us through the process,” Kurtz says. “They were both tremendous to work with and very well-organized.”

Ward and Fischer were able to create a model for their clients during an entrepreneurship class with Professor Sharon Alvarez and a Business Law and Public Policy class with Assistant Professor Bruce Klaw. Professor Klaw spearheaded the Legal Accelerator for Student Entrepreneurs through which they met with Robert Hensley of the law firm Dorsey & Whitney. With the assistance of its pro bono coordinator, partner Charlene Krogh, the firm’s Denver office donates time to Daniels students to help them with the legal aspects of entrepreneurship. Castle Gray Consulting, LLC. officially launched when Hensley advised them on setting up an operating agreement and engagement letter.

“The meeting gave us a ton of clarity,” Fischer said. “He helped set us up for success by creating professional documents and advising us on the legal aspects of intellectual property.”

CGC uses these documents to engage with new clients. To date, Fischer and Ward have successfully advised a number of companies in various industries in Colorado, across the nation, and internationally. Fischer was an environmental planner before coming to Daniels and Ward worked for Macy’s in merchandise planning. They would love for Castle Gray Consulting to take off and demand full-time attention. Until then, they plan to seek full-time positions in management consulting after graduation.

“The networking through Daniels has been really helpful,” Fischer says. “The alumni we’ve talked to have been really eager to see our business flourish.”