UNCW M.B.A. Students Tackle the Challenge of Transforming the Lives of Millions

Friday, March 02, 2018

UNCW graduates and current M.B.A. candidates Scott Davis ’17 and Lee Mauldin ’16 are working to “bridge” the gap between profitable business and sustainable practices.

Classmates and friends since 2015, the two co-founded Natural Bridges, LLC, a marketing and sales company that specializes in the development and advancement of green technologies. What drives their business is their personal belief that the environment doesn’t have to suffer for profit.

They, along with team member Elliot Gunning ’17, were honored with the Hult Prize at UNCW in November. Hailed as the “Nobel Prize for students,” the Hult Prize’s annual competition crowd-sources ideas from college students concerning a pressing social issue. In response to this year’s challenge of harnessing the power of energy to transform the lives of 10 million people by 2025, the team pitched the idea of distributing mobile solar generator systems throughout the developing world, specifically to Small Island Developing States that are most susceptible to climate change and natural disasters.

“We specialize in international marketing,” said Davis. “Our focus, especially in the context of the Hult competition, is to understand how to best allocate new products/services in developing markets. Typically, the developing or emerging markets break the normative marketing approach, requiring us to utilize innovative measures in catering technologies to these parts of the globe.”

The trio will represent UNCW at the regional competition March 9-10 in Boston against 220 competitors from 52 countries. Davis and Mauldin will be flying in from Spain, where they are completing international marketing coursework at the University of Valencia in fulfillment of their International M.B.A. degree program in UNCW’s Cameron School of Business. When the leadership team at Live Oak Bank learned of the need for travel funds for these students, they became a sponsor immediately.

“Live Oak treasures our partnership with UNCW," said JC Smith, Director of Live Oak U. "We have hired more than 150 graduates from UNCW, and we are proud supporters of Cameron School's Business Week. Our decision to sponsor students to attend the Hult Prize competition was easy, given our passion for sustainable entrepreneurship, our passion for giving back to the community, and our desire to support the next generation of business owners."

When asked how they are running a business, completing graduate studies and gearing up for a major competition, Davis and Mauldin said they are first and foremost focused on their studies. “It’s why we are here – we are bettering ourselves and our business ideas. Running the business six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time is a challenge timewise; email has been our best friend.”

Davis and Mauldin credit UNCW faculty and staff members Jennifer Biddle, Jeff Hill, Chris Krumm, Bonnie Monteleone, Valerie Rider, Peter Schuhmann and Ron Vetter for being supportive during their time as both undergraduate and graduate students and credit that support for “propelling them to represent UNCW on an international stage.”

 -- Caroline Cropp