By Sabrina Liu
Meg Greenhalgh (second from left in above photo) is a second year student from northern Virginia and founder of startup Brandefy, an app that compares store brand and name brand personal care products. Brandefy recently won an award from the 5th annual Graduate Startup Pitch Competition, PitchTexas, at South by Southwest (SXSW).
Meg came to Darden in fall 2016 to further develop her entrepreneurial and business skills. As a Darden student, Meg has participated in a number of the global academic programs offered through the school, including a Global Client Course to Argentina in her first year at Darden and a Global Immersion Course to Cuba in her second year. Meg took a few minutes to share about her global experiences with these Darden Worldwide Courses.
What motivated you to join the Darden Worldwide Courses to Argentina and Cuba?
I have a few friends from Argentina so I’ve always felt connected to the culture and have wanted to visit Argentina for the longest time. When I considered going on a global academic program, I didn’t even think twice about which one I wanted to sign up for. Cuba was also at the top of my travel list, and is a place I was curious to visit at this stage in its history. The country has changed so quickly in recent years – I really had no expectation before the trip of how quickly the country would change. The informal economy in Cuba is significant – nearly everyone has a side hustle. The trip allowed me to better understand the social nature of humans, especially in the context of socialism which is something of which I had no prior knowledge nor experience. The whole experience was fascinating.
After seeing it firsthand, what do you think about the economic prospects for growth in Cuba?
There are certain industries that the government has allowed citizens to participate in, which led to a boom particularly in tourism and housing. We actually stayed in an Airbnb, which made us feel connected to the local community. From the house, you could see kids on the street having fun and playing. I think tourism is a source of revenue for Cuba and that Cuba can continue to capitalize on that sector.
What was your favorite speaker or what was your favorite part of the Cuba course?
During the course, I had the chance to speak with three female entrepreneurs, who all owned startups and practiced effectuation – an entrepreneurial concept that Darden instills in us – so it was really meaningful to be able to sit and talk with them. As a woman entrepreneur myself, I felt a sense of similarity with them, yet talking to them also gave me a different perspective of barriers I’ve faced starting Brandefy, which pale in comparison. They were truly motivational women and those conversations were definitely one of my favorite parts of the course.
How are you using what you learned in these Darden Worldwide Courses as you continue growing your business?
Both DWCs offered me some perspective that has helped me continue developing my business. For example, before starting Brandefy last year I had to learn how to create software. In Cuba, there is hardly any internet, yet there are still people creating software and software-based technologies. Seeing the determination of these entrepreneurs to succeed despite their lack of resources really inspires me. If I could, I would take millions of these courses! Not only do I want to travel the world and see places that I’ve never been to, like South Africa and Asia, but these courses offer unique learning experiences that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. These global experiences have been invaluable to me as an MBA student and entrepreneur.