Delvinia founder pays it forward with Schulich scholarship for emerging entrepreneurs
Delvinia founder and CEO Adam Froman, MBA’92, has a message for Schulich MBA\IMBA students with entrepreneurial instincts: An interesting journey awaits. “Twenty-two years ago, I was just like you. I had a degree in engineering and then I got my MBA just because that was ‘the right thing to do’.”
By necessity – he graduated at a time when good jobs were hard to come by – Froman took the entrepreneurial route, rather than pursuing “the holy grail” of a career in investment banking or management consulting, a decision that has taken him on a rollercoaster ride over the years. Speaking recently at a Schulich Alumni event, Froman chatted with several students planning to launch startups. “They really impressed me,” he said. “I’d say to them, ‘you have no idea what will happen to you.’”
As his digital strategy and innovation company celebrates its 16th anniversary with more than 60 employees serving clients around the world, Froman says it’s time to consider the need to help develop the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, as well as to give back to his alma mater. That’s why he’s established theDelvinia Scholarship for Entrepreneurship and Digital Innovation at Schulich, to be awarded to a second-year MBA or IMBA student specializing in Strategic Management, Marketing or Entrepreneurial Studies. Recipients will be chosen based on academic excellence and a written submission about extracurricular, community and employment activities that demonstrates “their connection to an entrepreneurial story like Delvinia’s and their commitment to entrepreneurial spirit, digital innovation and drive.”
However, Froman says the award criteria consciously leave room for unique individuals with unexpected backgrounds and talents. “As I’ve learned myself as an entrepreneur, there is not only one path forward,” he explains.
Professor Robert Kozinets, Marketing Chair, says the $2,500 annual Delvinia scholarship is a welcome boost to the school’s growing support for emerging entrepreneurs. “Adam is a terrific role model and resource for all Canadian business students, and especially for our digitally-driven and entrepreneurial Schulich cohort. Not only does his generous gift give back to Schulich and help students to open doors, but it also opens their minds and imaginations about what is possible in today’s world of disruptive technologies and innovative Canadian risk-takers.”
Any student who receives the annual $2,500 Delvinia award will also have an open invitation to contact the company’s CEO for informal mentoring, says Froman. “I never had the luxury of a career mentor,” he says. “While my family and close friends have been an incredible support structure for me, they have never really understood what I do, so it has been hard for them to give me advice on my business. Being an entrepreneur is a journey. It’s not all rosy. Sometimes it’s like looking off the face of a cliff. It requires support and intestinal fortitude and having a true understanding of what it takes. I’d like to help to support and guide students and young entrepreneurs on this bumpy ride.”
While he didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, Froman says he knows now that his MBA studies at Schulich have been critical to his success. “It wasn’t until I was running my own business that I appreciated what I had learned: How it’s given me the financial discipline and the confidence I need as an entrepreneur – not to fear the numbers, but to embrace them. It’s given me the confidence to solve any problem I confront. . . [Accounting Professor Emeritus] Al Rosen’s Financial Accounting classes not only helped in understanding cash flow which helped me get through the financial crisis, his entire approach to making business decisions still applies today and I use it to mentor my employees,” he explains.
Froman, who describes himself as a believer in the transformative power of digital technologies, says he’s not only interested in helping develop entrepreneurial students who aspire to launch their own businesses.
“I just want to help students who appreciate the journey of entrepreneurship – whether they want to work for an entrepreneurial firm or to become an entrepreneur themselves. There are a lot of entrepreneurial students coming out of Schulich who are very well-educated and very bright,” he says. “If they can connect to the Delvinia story, maybe that’s someone we can eventually hire.”