10 Mar 2021

Get to Know KadaKareer, a Social Enterprise Track New Venture Competition Team


With the New Venture Competition (NVC) finale right around the corner (tune in March 30 at 6:00 pm), learn more about team KadaKareer, a career development platform for low-income students in rural Philippines. We asked Michi Ferreol (MBA 2021) about her entrepreneurial journey and NVC preparations.

Team members: Michi Ferreol (MBA 2021), Cam Carag (MBA 2022), Joyce Chen, Amber Teng, Carlo Medina, Yuyang Wang, Marga Sison, Aldrin Aujero

What inspired you to start your company?
Michi Ferreol: In July of 2019, I met a young, energetic, inspiring young woman named Bless Chavez at a faith-based conference for high schoolers in Manila. This past summer, Bless shared her confusion and worries about the job search process and her lack of knowledge and understanding of the opportunities available to her. She told me that others’ opinions of her aspirations caused her to lose confidence and faith in herself and her dreams.

Talking to Bless helped open my eyes to a crucial problem in Philippine education: Higher education institutions are ill-equipped to guide their students through the school-to-employment journey, and lower-income students are left without the exposure and support they need to discover what they're good at or to pursue careers can lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Exploration is not encouraged in traditional Filipino schools, leaving students in majors and jobs that do not match their skillsets or bring them fulfillment.

My path would have been similar to Bless’s experience had I not been lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend the International School Manila. The guidance counsellors were globally trained and well-equipped with the knowledge, connections, and resources to help me navigate both my job application process and my budding career interests. Bless and many others do not have this, which is why we were inspired to start KadaKareer.

How has the Rock Center or Social Enterprise Initiative helped with your entrepreneurial journey? Are there any other HBS resources that you have been using?
MF: Besides being part of the Rock Accelerator, receiving incredible mentorship from Executive Fellow, Julia Austin, and being in a group of powerful women entrepreneurs, we have also been attending all of the workshops that are relevant to our stage as an organization. Just knowing that there is a community of people and experts to tap into for advice and assistance has lifted the mental strain and worry of launching a venture, and that has meant the world!

How have you been preparing for the competition?
MF: We received wonderful advice during one of the Harvard Innovation Lab sessions that the best-prepared teams are the ones that simply stick to their work and don’t try to mold their objectives or plans to fit the needs of the judges. So, we have stayed focused on preparing for our April launch by chugging away at building our product and meeting our organizational priorities.

What part of the NVC journey has been the most helpful for your team?
MF: Being compelled to critically assess our organization’s broader theory of change and intended impact. Writing the executive summary forced us to put into words what we had assumed since the beginning of our organization, and this surfaced some gaps and incongruencies that we have since managed to fix. Now, we are a more thoughtful, intentional, and informed team!

How did you go about creating your competition pitch? Do you have any advice for someone looking to create a pitch?
MF: We learned early on that the same pitch deck would never work across multiple audiences. The deck is a living, breathing thing that needs to tailored to different situations. While the main narrative and ethos of the pitch should stay the same, the way in which it is shared, or the stories that go along with it, will have to change depending on who you are speaking to!

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
MF: “Eat the frog!” The most difficult thing to do is to take a leap and start. Once you are in it, your energy and passion take over and what once felt scary or daunting will come naturally.

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