Heather Bessette set a goal for herself of a specific career in a specific location, and a year after graduating with a Joint MBA/MA International Environmental Policy degree from the Monterey Institute, she has achieved both.
MIIS Student Turns In-Class “Ah-Hah” Moment into Promising Company
January 25, 2013
We’re happy to report that there is a lot of buzz (as evidenced by this recent article in The Oregonian) surrounding Wikisway, an internet start-up company founded by MIIS alumnus Huston Hedinger (MAIPS ’12) while he was still a student. The company has already raised money from the Portland Seed Fund and other investors and is rapidly expanding. Huston’s team includes MIIS alumna Grace Andrews (MPA ’12), who is responsible for marketing and communications.
“The idea is to create a way for people to more quickly understand the connections that shape their lives,” Huston explains, and laughingly adds that you could also think of Wikisway as what would happen if Google Maps and Wikipedia had a baby. Huston’s “ah-hah” moment came in Professor Philip Murphy’s network analysis class when he thought about how hard it is to recognize patterns and connections just by looking at data. How data is presented matters and Wikisway is working to offer consumers a tool to connect the dots in a meaningful way.
There is a lot of information and data readily available on the Internet but it is not particularly user-friendly without a visually-oriented tool like Wikisway to make the connections clear and functional. Those who are interested in testing the tool out can sign up on wikisway.com to participate in the beta phase. Huston is hoping to attract half a million users to the site before the end of the year.
Huston and Grace both participated in the Frontier Market Scouts program, working to connect aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries to impact investors. Huston believes strongly in running a “sustainable outfit,” and that you can make money while doing good—“no need to sacrifice either.”
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Students will be working with international organizations around the world as part of the IPSS program.