Eric Smith ’12 sees himself as a bridge-builder between institutions such as the UA — with its vast technological promise — and businesses or governments hoping to collaborate. His official title is business development manager for Tucson-based tech company Aztera. Among other things, Aztera’s staff of mechanical, electrical, and software engineers creates prototypes for tech entrepreneurs and top national companies. 

When Cassandra Weinman ’11 graduated with a journalism degree, she knew she wanted to help make the world a better place. And she has — not through words, but through clothes. Brand Together, the Los Angeles nonprofit Weinman created with friends, takes what she calls “a luxury twist on the Goodwill business model” by gathering donations of high-end clothing and accessories — think Gucci handbags and Prada skirts — and selling them to raise funds for charities.

It is used by millions of people and hundreds of thousands of organizations across the globe, from Fortune 500 firms to freelance creatives who sell their wares on Etsy.

Basecamp, launched by Jason Fried ’99, started as a way for his team to manage projects for his company, 37Signals.

As clients noticed how easy it was to use, “a lightbulb went off,” says Fried, and 37Signals decided to put Basecamp on the market. It is now one of the top project management programs worldwide. 

One afternoon, Dominic Johnson ’98 and his wife, Kristel Johnson ’00, watched a beat-up ice cream truck rumble through their neighborhood. “And I said to Kristel, sort of kidding, that if someone could build a non-creepy ice cream truck, they’d have a business,” Dominic Johnson recalls. 

The idea stuck. “I kept brainstorming, and that’s when I came up with the concept of an old-fashioned ice cream truck — one that was the complete opposite of an ugly ice cream van.”


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