From MBA candidate to sustainable business owner: Interview with Alex Gamboa Grand

Alex Gamboa Grand

Program: MBA, Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate

Graduation Year: 2016

Program Schedule: Full-Time

Please briefly describe your career path and what led you to choose The School of Business at Portland State.

Prior to the MBA program, I worked in various child development roles, as well as retail management. I chose to pursue an MBA because I wanted to develop the skills to launch and lead a sustainable business in every sense.

What drew you to The Portland MBA in particular?

I was looking for programs in Portland and the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate really intrigued me, as well as the ability to be in an MBA program that was so connected to the Portland business community. I wanted to learn more about social enterprise and make sure that the business I chose to start (I’ve had many ideas over the years) was working to solve a meaningful problem, and was operating with a strong foundation of social and environmental responsibility.

What was the inspiration behind Good Intent (since renamed Way of Being)?

I had been really inspired by a variety of businesses and products that were attempting to reduce waste from food, disposables, and single-use plastic in an effort to minimize the effects of climate change. However, I had noticed that most people weren’t even aware of the zero or low waste movements, and if they were, they associated it with being kind of an extreme and unattainable lifestyle. But that doesn’t reflect the reality of how many people really care and would be willing to make changes if they felt it was more approachable. We wanted to take all of that collective good intent and turn it into actions that make a difference. We do this by providing informative content that gives people ideas for reducing waste regardless of budget or lifestyle. We also offer reusable and sustainable alternatives to everyday household products. Ultimately, we want to remind people that the goal is progress, not perfection.

What skills gained at PSU have you found most valuable in launching your own business?

I’ve applied a lot of what I learned in my marketing classes, the Launch in 9 entrepreneurship capstone, as well as the Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate program. For example, we practiced design thinking from the very beginning, collecting information and engaging our audience to ensure that we understood who they were and how to effectively support their needs. It also gave me a strong sense of how to grow our audience and build a following before we even launched our online store and once we did, how we should market ourselves. I also gained the confidence to know that, not only could I successfully start my own business, but I have the resources and support to ensure that it thrives.

What inspires you?

I’ve always been inspired by people who act and are willing to leave their comfort zones and take risks because they have faith in themselves and in the work they’re doing. I have also been so inspired by how many entrepreneurs have found ways to use business as a force for good. I used to think business was something you’d have to fight against or climb over to enact positive change in the world, but I was so wrong. Using our power as consumers is one of the easiest ways we can create a world that reflects our values, and we can do it every single day. Every dollar spent supporting a business going above and beyond to do the right thing is a seed planted for a better world.

What advice do you have for current or prospective graduate business students who are interested in entrepreneurship?

  1. If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, keep that perspective in mind throughout your courses, and don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about how the content you’re learning can be applied in a start-up context. Take notes of everything you think might be relevant and save them (maybe even some of your textbooks)! I kept a notebook specifically for information I learned throughout the program that I thought might be helpful for starting and running my own business. 
  2. Attend events and get involved with clubs that are of interest to you. The connections I made and the inspiration and insight I gained from various speakers during my time at PSU was just as valuable as the time I spent in class. (My involvement with Net Impact and the B Corp consulting project even helped me get a job!) Take advantage of this community while you’re in it. It’s a huge asset!

Be sure to check out Alex’s company, Way of Being, at

Comments are closed.

Blog at

Up ↑