Southern Methodist University
Kinga Malkinska will graduate from SMU with an MBA and MS in Engineering in 2018. She was born in Poland and raised in New Orleans.
What are three things that the venture community would be surprised to learn about Dallas, student entrepreneurs, and SMU?
The Dallas ecosystem—academic institutions, established industries, location, and affordability, for example—are driving entrepreneurship. Likewise, events such as Dallas start-up week are becoming more prominent and relevant to connecting SMUs faculty and students to innovation and entrepreneurial thinking and opportunities.
They would be pleasantly surprised at the growing number of female entrepreneurs, including Mambo, which had a team of all female founders and managers.
There is an active SMU entrepreneurship club that has numerous activities involved in the Dallas community, such as the Southwest Venture Forum. This forum happens every 2 months, and it is an excellent opportunity to network with venture capital firms and learn from lectures provided.
You and several of your classmates have created and are now testing a cancer diagnostic platform, how has SMUs faculty supported your team?
Dr. MacFarlane has been very helpful by providing his feedback before our national competitions. He offers advice on our pitch decks and helps us establish our network in the diagnostic space. All the professors are willing to help after hours and are very generous with their resources.
Does having a broad educational background (liberal arts) help you make better decisions? If so, why?
The more open-minded and diverse a background, the more unique and entrepreneurial mindset an individual develops. I think this helps with creating a business in its initial stages. A diverse educational background also helps relate to a greater array of people. However, this broad education only extends to a point because once the business starts developing, more specific and concentrated skill sets are required.
What entrepreneurial and/or innovation insight (from one of your professors) has impacted you the most?
My venture finance instructor stressed that even if an idea that you think of is already on the market, this is not a reason to lose hope. More importantly, you just have to execute it better.
When stuck—where do you go for an answer or to relax?
One of my biggest passions (besides the entrepreneurship space) is yoga. I make sure to take out at least one hour out of the day for hot yoga, which helps me clear my mind. I really recommend it to any busy individual, because it has been a life-changing habit for me.
What non-engineering and business school classes best prepared you for your entrepreneurial journey?
My two favorite classes were Technology Commercialization class with Dr. MacFarlane and Evaluation Entrepreneurial Opportunity with Dr. Mak. The first was very instrumental in my education because Dr. MacFarlane highlighted the number of involved questions that have to be addressed throughout the product management stage. For example, while developing a new medical device, the entrepreneur has to think beyond product sales, asking questions about how the distributors will play a role, manufacturing of each part, and be able to walk through a customer’s perspective from for the entire cycle. The second class taught me to never stop thinking of ideas and observing the market, and every week I still carry a notepad of my weekly inventions.
Why should every student take a class in entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is a combination of everything and the most difficult course to master. It includes product creation, sales, marketing, and technology. Every student should take a class in this space because it stimulates a different type of thinking, a creative mindset that will stay with you forever. As a student, you look at current companies from a different perspective and understand how difficult starting a successful company is.
As someone who is part of a viable and potentially fundable start-up, why are you interested in working for an established life sciences company?
I am hoping to work for an established life sciences company because I want to learn from top executives in the field and get the proper training before I enter the exciting yet risky start-up world. My passion will always remain in the entrepreneurship space, but there is lots of value in working for a bigger and more established company.