Online MBA Alum Advocates Entrepreneurship, Organizational Innovation
May 21, 2015
For Mark Weisman '15 MBA, a physician, healthcare administrator, and entrepreneur in Virginia Beach, Isenberg’s Online MBA program conferred immediately applicable skills. At Sentara Healthcare, where Mark is Medical Director of Strategy, Informatics, Analytics, and Innovation, his Isenberg coursework helped him to strengthen performance in quality improvement, customer/patient satisfaction, and physician productivity.
“By and large, I joined the Online MBA program 3+ years ago to make a positive difference in my organization,” notes Mark. “But my courses had an equal impact on my second career as an entrepreneur.” In recent years, that career has taken off with his high-profile family business, Define Bottle.
Entrepreneurship: It’s All in the Family (for now)
A start-up with his 17-year-old son, Carter Kostler (the company’s founder and president), and his wife, Carla, Define Bottle markets a collection of fruit-infused water bottles that allow consumers to create their own concoctions of water, fresh fruit, teas, and herbs. Devised by Carter at age 13, the bottles offer a stylish, convenient alternative both to bottled water throwaways and sugary drinks—a priority for a public-health-conscious physician and his like-minded family.
The hard-charging venture, now distributed through Target (It also has big box distribution through Dick’s Sporting Goods, which sells a “Carrie Underwood” version of the bottle.), has received considerable media coverage. That includes Carter’s recent appearances on ABC’s Shark Tank, in which the teenage entrepreneur made savvy, nuanced pitches to the “shark" investors.
Define Bottle was featured on Good Morning America and honored by Entrepreneurship Magazine. Carter was a national finalist in Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America’s End Childhood Obesity Challenge. And Define Bottle received recognition and distribution at a Health Matters event sponsored by former President Clinton (pictured right with the Weisman family).
Like many entrepreneurs, Mark wears multiple hats in the business, but he defines his principal roles succinctly: “I handle the logistics and fund the business through my salary.” In characteristic entrepreneurial spirit, he and his wife have secured a line of credit by collateralizing their home. And Mark also notes that the company is transitioning its sourced manufacturing from China to Michigan.
For Mark, the bottom line—and the principal takeaway from Isenberg—has been to become more entrepreneurial. “That goes for my own business and my employer as well,” he insists. “At Sentara, I’ve had tremendous opportunities to replace old suboptimal systems through innovation, rapid prototyping, and best practices. Call it intrapreneurship, if you will; like my own business, it calls for distinctly entrepreneurial skills.”