Recent MBA graduate awarded one of three Adams fellowships in Southeast Michigan

Kevin Tuczek, a 2011 Wayne State University MBA graduate, was one of three 2012-13 recipients of the Adams Entrepreneur Fellowship and the only recipient from Wayne State. The Adams Entrepreneurial Fellowship Program, hosted by Michigan’s largest technology and business association, Automation Alley, allows fellows to work at the management level through early startup companies while receiving mentoring from the company’s management.

Tuczek, who was interested in changing his career path, thought this would be the perfect opportunity. He was paired with Billhighway, a company that works with nonprofits and member-based organizations to make the financial part of handling a business a little easier, so businesses can focus on their missions. Tuczek said the fellowship program helped him understand business more, especially at a startup level.

“I get to experience the challenges of building a business, like entering new markets and developing new products, while at the same time working at a company with really smart, successful people who are all driving towards the same goal,” Tuczek said.

Tuczek is living the unpredictable life of an entrepreneur through Billhighway. As an entrepreneur, he has experienced his role changing as the needs of the company evolve.

“For an entrepreneur, one day might mean being the CEO, head marketing person, customer service rep and the janitor,” Tuczek said. “You basically do whatever it takes to get the job done. That was my view going in and it hasn't really changed.”

Tuczek is the growth development analyst and is responsible for achieving the company's growth goals including: developing strategies to break into new markets, conducting deep market research on prospective customers, being an active part of the sales process through prospecting, getting meetings and discussing terms, and working to further develop indirect sales channels.

“Essentially, I'm living the entrepreneurial life without assuming the risk normally associated with starting a business, plus I'm able to sit down with C-level folks and ask questions, develop ideas, and so on,” Tuczek said.

Pursuing a career as an entrepreneur brings many challenges including resources for funding. A generous stipend allows the fellows to be fully committed to the experience without worrying about having to work another job.

The fellowship is not just about financial support; it puts the fellow in an environment where he or she can grow and make lifelong connections.

As an Adams fellow, Tuczek has an opportunity to advance his career and build his network in the community. That network now includes other Adams fellows with whom he can share knowledge and build relationships.

“One of the best parts is I'm surrounded by like-minded people every day—meaning entrepreneurial folks who are looking to create and develop ideas. I also have regular meetings with the program director, who is a wealth of knowledge himself. I'm learning a ton and building my network with great people,” Tuczek said.

“The fellowship is important to me because it's an opportunity to get first-hand knowledge and experience about entrepreneurship, along with regular access to a range of successful entrepreneurs, which most people don't get,” Tuczek said.

Before Tuczek pursued an MBA, he was a communications and public relations professional. He knew he wanted to apply to the fellowship after he first heard about the program while working at the School of Business Administration and pursuing his MBA. He also discovered an entrepreneurial environment was best for him and had to figure out a way to be in one.

“Kevin was a great student—very engaged in the course content. I could tell from the start that he was serious about being an entrepreneur,” said WSU Adjunct Faculty of Management Gary Shields.

His entrepreneurial spirit serves him well at Billhighway.

“Kevin has been a valuable member to the team; he jumps right into projects and is proactive,” said Tracy-Ann Palmer, Billhighway’s chief growth officer and Tuczek’s boss. “He has the skills of an entrepreneur; he is flexible and adaptable.”

“Kevin is a great Adams fellow because he has the intellectual and academic skills needed to understand the totality of a new business start-up, a healthy tolerance of risk and uncertainty needed to take the plunge and a real desire to see his ideas come to life. The Adams experience will get him one step closer to realizing his dream,” Shields said.

Through Tuczek’s training in communications, he has been able to help with the organization’s newsletter and other communication needs of the company.

The fellowship at Billhighway is not something Tuczek takes lightly.

“I want to add value by helping the company grow,” Tuczek said.

I have the opportunity to apply lessons learned from discussions with executives, like how to best approach solution selling, on my daily work. The end goal after all of it is to keep forging my career path and feeding my entrepreneurial drive.”

At the end of the one year fellowship, Tuczek hopes to continue with Billhighway.

“All of this is preparing me for the future because I wanted to change my career path and I'm doing it. The Adams Entrepreneur Fellowship is a key piece of that transformation,” Tuczek said.

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