Professional MBA alumnus launches business just before graduation
People often look into an MBA program because they’re hoping to take the next step in their career. That’s exactly what Brent Facchinello (MBA 2020) planned to do. He had worked for Molson Coors for eight years in procurement and was ready for something more.
“I had always thought about going back to get an MBA to move me from being an individual contributor to the one leading strategy,” Facchinello said. He had helped Coors bring new products to market through the sourcing of raw ingredients. His role was part of the product development and supply chain teams and he coordinated closely with innovation, marketing, manufacturing and distribution to launch new products.
“I really never thought I’d ever leave Coors, but I did think, if I left, I might want to start a business sometime in my career,” he said.
Facchinello had the opportunity to launch a business much earlier than he expected. In early 2020, he was laid off from Molson Coors. A conversation with a cousin during breakfast at their grandma’s house lead to a new opportunity—his cousin, Chris Wynne, bought a 160-acre farm in Boulder, Colorado, and planned to launch a CBD company. Wynne was a successful Papa John’s franchisee and had launched many businesses but needed someone with Facchinello’s skill set. Seemed like a good opportunity for Facchinello.
Facchinello joined cousins Chris, William and Anna Selezneva-Wynne to launch Miraflora, an everyday wellness and active lifestyle CBD brand. Miraflora Naturals has an innovative consumer products pipeline that includes CBD tinctures, soft gels, sports recovery balm, sparkling sports recovery drinks and even dog chews. Future developments include an CBD skincare line that promises to innovate the health and beauty category. Their organically grown farm is located in Boulder, Colorado, with breathtaking views of the Flatirons and they recently brought alpacas to the farm as part of their sustainability initiatives.
“This was a big change for me,” Facchinello said. “I worked for a big company with something like 20,000 employees worldwide. Now I get to lead the business instead of being an individual contributor.”
Facchinello lays out how the Professional MBA program prepared him to be the co-founder and chief operations officer of Miraflora.
(1) Learn through doing
Facchinello considered leaving Molson Coors to enroll in a full-time MBA program at the University of Texas or Notre Dame. He ended up selecting the Professional MBA program at Daniels because he realized that he learned best by doing.
“I literally took assignments from class and used them straight into business. The curriculum matches what you need to learn to run a business, it teaches you the fundamentals,” he said.
While DU handled the business acumen, he could also learn from his peers, colleagues and mentors at work. It was a selling point of choosing a part-time program over a full-time option. But, Facchinello also took advantage of the experiential learning Daniels offers through case competitions.
Race and Case is a competition at Daniels where teams have one week to tackle a real-world issue for a company and present their solutions to the business challenge to a panel of judges. Then they have to race, skiing one of Colorado’s top racecourses for 10% of their score.
“The Race and Case competition was a great experience, especially as an aspiring entrepreneur,” Facchinello said. “The competition made you think like a CEO, having to quickly pull together a strategy and pitch it to a panel. That is the life of an entrepreneur.”
(2) Use the Daniels network and resources
The faculty at Daniels aren’t just there to teach students, they also provide a wealth of industry connections. Facchinello said the faculty were a valuable resource.
“Many of them were business leaders and/or entrepreneurs,” he said. “They were great in providing insight, challenge ideas and making connections.”
Faculty and staff are also happy to make introductions to corporate partners and DU alumni. Facchinello also recommends that entrepreneurs connect with Project X-ITE, which is DU’s institutional hub for entrepreneurial education and engagement.
(3) Get global experience
Daniels offers many opportunities for students to get a global experience. Facchinello was able to take two elective courses, an international finance course that took him to Belize and a management elective called Doing Business in China.
“The Belize trip definitely helped spark my entrepreneurial spirit. We met several entrepreneurs who started a brewery, an oil and gas company, a real estate office and more,” he said. “In Shanghai, China, I saw a completely different side of entrepreneurship more geared toward tech startups and artificial intelligence.”
(4) Don’t ignore soft skills
“You have to be adaptive,” Facchinello explained. “Business school taught me how to be adaptive and move forward, keeping a positive intent. It also enhanced my leadership skills, critical strategic thinking skills and executive presence.”
Facchinello shared how often he wasn’t sure what was ahead during school and work. He had to juggle priorities and often prepare quickly. “You had to roll with the punches and do your best,” he said.
“Launching a new company requires lots of work and wearing many hats. 2020 added additional challenges, but we’ve stepped up to the plate for these challenges.”
His company is growing each month and he feels they’re set up for success.
“We have a good plan and a customer-first mentality. We will stay focused and pivot as needed to be successful,” he said. “Now that I have graduated, I feel I am better prepared to succeed with Miraflora.”