11 Questions with MS in Entrepreneurship Student James Alexander

We asked current Foster students to tell us why they chose Foster, what they like to do for fun, and to share advice with potential applicants. Meet Master of Science in Entrepreneurship student James.
James Alexadner

1) Where are you from?

I come from the Southeast Asian country of Indonesia, more specifically from the province of South Sumatra. Sumatra is the world’s 6th largest island and is well-known for their coffee beans. So, next time you go to your local coffee shop, be on the lookout for Sumatran coffee!

2) What did you do before entering this program?

I graduated in 2018 from Seattle University with a BA in Digital Design. After graduating, I worked at Philips Healthcare as an instructional designer, creating training and educational materials for their Ultrasound products. I then spent a gap year in my home country of Indonesia to reconnect with my family and friends after being away for several years and also to realign my goals and perspective.

3) Did you have any entrepreneurship experience before entering this program?

Over the past few years, I have been working as a freelance photographer and graphic designer. It has been a satisfying experience for me; I remember how excited I was when I got my first client (and also my first paycheck). I am now looking to take the next step and formally start a creative agency with my colleagues who are also working in the creative field. Together, we plan to offer different creative services (i.e. advertising, marketing, branding) to companies (B2B) and individuals (B2C).

4) Tell us why you are excited to be a part of the fourth cohort for the MS ENTRE degree program?

Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, I have seen the positive impact that a business can have on the community, which is why I decided to enroll in the MS ENTRE program so that I can build a solid foundation to start my own business. I am also excited to be surrounded by other aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs who are passionate about solving problems and impacting their own communities in a positive way.

5) What advantages do you see to opening a business now?

COVID-19 has undeniably re-shaped our world; businesses have closed down and many jobs are looking to never return. However, I firmly believe that this pandemic will spark the growth of new businesses (just like how Uber and Airbnb emerged after the 2008 financial crisis). For example, several of my Indonesian friends have started food businesses from their home; they would open pre-orders for meals, cook and then deliver them to their customers.

I think we will see the emergence of small businesses like the example above, as more people are realizing that you do not need a huge amount of capital to start a business. Also, with online media consumptions being at an all-time high with everyone staying inside and using their devices, small business owners will be using social media marketing extensively to promote their businesses.

6) What connections are you hoping to make while in the program?

Since my plan is to start a creative agency, I am looking to learn more about my colleagues’ various industries/expertise. By doing this, I will be able to develop a holistic view of the economy and understand what my colleagues’ creative needs are (i.e. company branding).

Also, since I am planning to return to Indonesia after graduating and start my business there, I hope to develop relationships with my colleagues from other Asian countries. With Asia’s economy growing rapidly, I would love to work with them in the future and contribute to the region’s development and growth.

7) Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I see myself taking over my family businesses and also starting my own business(es). I also aspire to get involved in some policy making for my local community in Indonesia; there are many facets of my community that can still be improved, so I am hoping to apply what I have learned during my time abroad and help develop my country.

8) What skills and/or knowledge are you looking to develop?

I am looking to build upon my existing skills, like communication (i.e. public speaking). I have had several opportunities to do that in this program, like the business idea pitch that we had to do at the end of Summer quarter. I am also looking to add new skills to my skill set, such as learning how to negotiate deals and developing business acumen. Ultimately, I hope to become more confident in myself and in what I can offer to my community.

9) What do you like to do for fun?

I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to many places around the world. Travelling has allowed me to broaden my horizon and gain an appreciation for the world’s different cultures. Here are some pictures of me from my recent trip to the Indonesian island of Padar; the island is part of the Komodo National Park, which is the home of the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon.

James Alexander in Indonesia

10) What’s been your favorite part of the program so far?

My favorite part of the program is its curriculum. I appreciate how the school has structured the curriculum in a way that students without an existing business background are eased into the subjects. Also, the case studies that we have done have helped us to understand how our knowledge can be applied to real-world scenarios.

I also appreciate how attentive my colleagues, instructors, and advisors have been. It has been a challenging and uncertain year for everyone, so it is nice that we’ve all been communicating regularly and checking in with one another.

11) What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about applying to the MS ENTRE degree program?

My entrepreneurial parents often remind me: “We need to constantly look for ways we can serve other people.” I believe that the core of entrepreneurship is the pursuit of creating solutions that address society’s most dire needs. If you have a business idea but do not know where to start, or even if you are still looking for one, then this 12-month MS ENTRE degree program is a good launchpad for your entrepreneurial journey.

You will be taught how to recognize and validate a business idea, like conducting market research through surveys and interviews. You will also be taught how to manage and grow your business, through classes like “Essentials of Accounting” and “Entrepreneurial Marketing.” Most importantly, you will get to learn from other aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs. This program will ultimately allow you to discover what really drives you as an entrepreneur and an individual.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program

This post is part of a series where we ask current students to answer 11 questions about their experience at Foster. Explore the 11 questions tag for more interviews.