Immersion in the strong entrepreneurial culture at the Ross School and Zell Lurie Institute gave Susan Tahir, MBA ’04, the lessons-learned, experience and confidence to launch Story38 Alliance, an endurance sports gear company based in Mountain View, Calif., two years ago. She recently initiated a Kickstarter campaign to raise $18,000 by June 28 to fund the production of her first product, a specialized gear carrier designed for triathletes. The initial shipment of products is scheduled to begin in December.
Tahir’s new company is more than just a revenue-generating venture aimed at tapping into the fast-growing U.S. triathlon sports market. It also reflects her heroic efforts to recover from a personal tragedy ─ the loss of her infant son, Noah, in January 2011─ by making a positive contribution to the sport that aided her rebound and helping other endurance athletes who compete for equally compelling reasons.
“My vision for my company is to elevate endurance gear for athletes,” Tahir explains. “My son, Noah, is the ultimate inspiration behind what I do.”
Coming from a technology background, Tahir worked at high-tech companies in Hong Kong and Boston before enrolling in the Ross School’s MBA program in 2002. An entrepreneurial MAP assignment with Milliken & Co., an industrial textile and materials manufacturer located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, thrust her into uncharted territory where she had seven weeks to learn the ins and outs of an industry and complete a comprehensive business project. As co-chair of the 2004 FuturTech conference, Tahir honed her ability to develop a vision and execute on it. “The cross-pollination I experienced at Ross helped me when I was starting my company and developing my first product,” she says. “I needed the same mindset, networking capabilities, resource management and interdisciplinary focus to accomplish what I wanted to do.”
After graduation, Tahir resumed her technology career with Fortune 500 companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Medtronic and the Walt Disney Co., until she pivoted, at age 38, into new venture creation. “With my customers and Kickstarter backers, I am creating an alliance for individuals who race with a deeper purpose ─ their own stories,” she says. “I want to give back by providing my fellow athletes with gear that helps them truly experience the sport.”
Visit Susan’s Kickstarter campaign at: http://kck.st/1wrMVQf. It runs until June 28.