Enrolling in an executive MBA program offers many benefits: broadening one’s business skills, obtaining a graduate degree, building a network of colleagues. And then, there is the serendipitous benefit of having a class transform the way you do business.
For Zeph Isom (HEMBA 2016), the New Venture Development class in the final semester of The University of Alabama Executive MBA Program continues to serve as guidance, as he works to grow a start-up company he is involved with, Plaid Systems Inc., and its Spruce Irrigation products.
According to Isom, “Spruce is a smart irrigation system designed to replace and upgrade your current home irrigation controller or to be included in newly-installed irrigation systems. The key differentiation between Spruce and others in the market is the full-integration of wireless moisture sensors. Spruce not only ‘looks up’ in the sky by reviewing near-term precipitation forecasts but it will also collect actual soil moisture and temperature levels to determine when and how much to water.”
Isom praises Dr. Craig Armstrong, who teaches the New Venture Development class, for his instruction and knowledge. During the EMBA Program, Isom took what was taught in class and applied the information to help successfully launch the 1st Generation Spruce system with an initial crowdfunding level of over $75,000.
“Gen 1 was, for all intents and purposes, our ‘minimal viable product.’ Feedback from customers helped give us direction on what to focus on and release for the 2nd Generation of Spruce products, which we started shipping to customers in May,” said Isom.
In addition to being involved with Spruce, Isom is also Senior Manager, Customer Service and Supply Chain Planning for Universal Lighting Technologies. He currently resides with his family in Nashville, Tennessee.