Using my MBA for the Greater Good

August 2, 2017
by Sarah Feldman

Just over a year ago, a group of concerned community members and I founded a startup-non-profit called “The Silicon Valley Ice Skating Association”. Many of the lessons learned in the Rady School of Management’s Lab to Market program were very helpful in doing so.

To understand the situation, I used the framework from Lab to Market to describe the market for ice rinks: There was a need for more ice rink facilities in Silicon Valley’s Peninsula community – an issue that was worsened by many facilities recently shuttering. This was happening due to the extremely high ROI of housing or commercial facilities in lieu of recreational facilities. Further, there was a gap in supply of such rinks, but a very high demand from community members. We mobilized when the market fell out of equilibrium and our home ice rink in Belmont, California was forced to close due to high maintenance costs and due to the market forces that dictated the property was worth millions of dollars to a housing developer who later purchased it.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal, Mercury News, ABC News, and other local news outlets closely followed the skating community efforts, including the efforts of our sister group looking to save a rink in San Mateo.  Since our founding a year ago, we are so thankful to be seeing movement to save our rinks and that our sister group’s ice rink is slated to re-open in September! Our non-profit also started to help build another rink in a surrounding area. We are extremely excited to welcome 2002 Olympic Team Member, Timothy Goebel to our board. Timothy brings his experience with Figure Skating in Harlem and passion for the skating community to our organization. He has been an absolute pleasure to work with.

In April 2017. Silicon Valley Ice Skating Association hosted its first anniversary gala, with the help of our amazing volunteer staff. Our Honorary Speaker, an exceptional woman, was Joanne Pasternack, executive director and vice president of the San Francisco 49ers (who has since moved to the Golden State Warriors). Some of the attendees included Kari Wolfe, Community Director of the Oakland A’s, Polina Edmunds, Olympic medalist; local elected officials and board directors; with over 300 individuals at the event.   

Olympic Medalists Kristi Yamaguchi and Timothy Goebel both donated time to be auctioned off at the event in addition to numerous generous skate companies and event sponsors. Event donations were made by tech executives and community members, including those from Julianne and Scott Wagner (president and COO of GoDaddy), Charlene Low, Irvin, Abrahamson & Company CPA's, Inc, and many others. We are so thankful for the continued support as we strive to bring more ice skating facilities to Silicon Valley!

Since the event was hosted, we had the great fortune of working with California Congresswoman Jackie Speier to continue brainstorm ideas of how to keep ice skating a vibrant part of Silicon Valley, home of many successful Olympic Figure Skaters. 

My experience at Rady gave me the mindset and the toolkit to lead the effort to bring more skating facilities to the Silicon Valley. From the financial forecasting experience to building a business plan to calculating Total Addressable Market, Rady’s MBA program prepared me to launch our startup non-profit.

Sarah Feldman graduated with an MBA from the Rady School of Management in 2015. She currently works in the Bay Area as the Business Intelligence Program Manager for Tesla Motors. 

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