News & Highlights

  • June 2023

From Prison Cell to Nike’s C-Suite: The Journey of Larry Miller

Before leading one of the world’s largest brands, Nike executive Larry Miller served time in prison for murder. In this interview, Miller shares how education helped him escape a life of crime and why employers should give the formerly incarcerated a second chance. This video is based on a recent case, Larry Miller, written by Professors Francesca Gino, Frances X. Frei, and Hise Gibson in collaboration with the Mid-US Research Office
  • FEBRUARY 2023

In My Humble Opinion: Hometown reboot, building on change in Pittsburgh

David Motley (MBA 1988) grew up in Lincoln-Larimer, a struggling neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s East End. He remembers the soot on the snow in the cold winters of the 1960s. And if he looked south, toward the Monongahela River, he could see the steel mills that were its source. “Even in the darkest of night, you would see the glow from the mills that lined the river,” he recalls. Now Motley sees an entirely new city. Along the river are the offices of medical and technology companies. “Pittsburgh has successfully transitioned from an old economy to a new one,” Motley says. He has been a small part of that evolution—as the cofounder of a professional services firm, an investor, a developer, and a corporate board member. “The challenge and the opportunity is to work to ensure all Pittsburghers benefit from this transition,” he adds. Helping to revitalize his hometown had not been part of what Motley calls “the grand plan.”
  • November 2022
  • MBA Experience

Immersive Student Trek to West Virginia

Student-led treks are an integral part of the HBS culture, allowing students to explore regions and create connections that reach beyond the classroom. In November, over 20 MBA students journeyed to West Virginia for a three-day immersive student trek. The group traveled throughout the state, engaging with community organizers, state government officials, and leaders in business and academia, learning first-hand about the opportunities and challenges West Virginia faces in diversifying its economy. The students explored topics such as the importance of building resiliency in communities, addressing the opioid epidemic, and creating opportunities for entrepreneurship and effective public-private partnerships.
  • NOVEMBER 2022

Singing to the Corn: Taylor Keen’s Sacred Seed Project shows how a Native American approach to agriculture can protect the planet’s soil—one garden at a time

Corn likes people. It benefits from human contact, when it’s thinned out and hand-pollinated, explains Taylor Keen (MPA 1996/ MBA 1997). Corn thrives when sung to and spoken to—something Keen does in the language of his mother’s Omaha Tribe, where he is known as Bison Mane. Keen is also an active member of the Cherokee Nation, his father’s people, where his tribal name is Blackberry. He grew up between Omaha and the Cherokee reservation in northeastern Oklahoma, where he was a football player and top student—not a plant whisperer. It would be decades before Keen fully understood the role that growing things could play in educating others about indigenous cultures. Read more about his journey here.

New Research on the Region

  • April 2023
  • Case

Drive Capital: A New Road for Venture

By: Paul A. Gompers and Alicia Dadlani

Founded by two former Sequoia Capital partners, Columbus-Ohio-based Drive Capital’s mission was to build a world-class venture capital firm in the middle of the U.S., an area historically overlooked by VCs. Drive faced early challenges of attracting investors, sourcing talent, and building entrepreneurial ecosystems, but by 2022, the firm had invested in over 90 portfolio companies and had assets under management of over $2 billion, making it the largest VC firm outside the coasts. In the Winter of 2022, cofounder and CEO Chris Olsen contemplated an investment into Forge Biologics, an Ohio-based gene therapy contract development and manufacturing company. The partnership weighed the pros and cons in the context of the fund’s overall portfolio and macroeconomic headwinds facing the industry.

  • October 2022
  • Case

Beam Dental (A)

By: Rembrand Koning and Alicia Dadlani

In May 2014, Alex Frommeyer, cofounder and CEO of Kentucky-based Beam Dental, a seed-stage startup that developed connected toothbrushes that tracked brushing habits, needed to decide which strategy to pitch to a venture capital firm. The first pitch deck played to the founders’ strengths as engineers and requested funds to develop a market-leading, next-generation connected toothbrush. The second pitch deck requested capital to start a dental insurance company, an industry in which the founders had limited knowledge, that would distribute the toothbrush and offer premium credits for healthy brushing habits. This case is the first case in a two-part series (second case 723-356), and there are two supplements (723-374 and 723-375) for this case.

  • October 2022
  • Teaching Material

Beam Dental (A): Pitch Deck Supplement 1

By: Rembrand Koning and Alicia Dadlani

Early pitch deck (one of two). This case is a supplement to Beam Dental (A) 723-355.

See more research

Mid-US Staff

Alicia Dadlani
Christy Hirokawa
Program Manager