Creating a New Currency for a Local Market

by Leslie Cruz Palacios (MBA ’17) (7/13/17)

Leslie Cruz Palacios (MBA ’17)

Helping entrepreneurs adapt to the uncertainties of the complex business environment is very rewarding.

Being a Big Red Microenterprise (BRM) coach as a great opportunity to not only help entrepreneurs achieve their business goals but also better understand how they process decision making and adapt to the uncertainties of the complex business environment.

After a two-phase interview, we were accepted in the program, received training, and were matched with a local Ithaca business. I worked with fellow Johnson School students Victoria Wilmarth and Dan Kim, both MBA ‘18. After we planned our goals and expectations, we met Scott Morris, our client, to learn more about each other and about the business. Scott is the CEO and founder of Mainstreet Market, a local, digital marketplace that uses both US Dollars and Ithaca Dollars (i$), an alternative currency that rewards consumers for shopping locally and supporting local business and charitable causes.

After our initial meeting, we researched the industry, studied how the business model operates, and prepared follow up questions to help us understand how Scott planned to effectively achieve growth. Through the planning process, we better understood “blockchain” and how Scott applied it to a local digital marketplace. Throughout our meetings, we discussed with Scott which market channels would better serve Mainstreet Market and vetted a range of ideas to help test ones with which Scott felt most comfortable. From completing a strengths/weakness analysis to providing planning continuity, our BRM team helped clarify and structure information that can provide different approaches to launching initiatives and controlling for risks.

Some of us on the team come from an entrepreneurial families and understand that typical entrepreneurs continuously look to the future and keep innovating, but we also know that many times our families struggled to focus on pacing and finishing/building one thing at a time. A major lesson we learned from Scott was that in reality there are many priorities that seem to outpace capabilities. It is critical to understand what is urgent and important to focus on both quality and scalability.  

In the end, we all had a great time learning from and about each other and look forward to hearing how MainStreet Market will continue to grow in Ithaca!