In his first eight months in the Notre Dame MBA program, Raymond Fraser has served as an entrepreneurial lead at the IDEA Center and as a university brand manager for Lime Bike, a dockless bike sharing company. “Coming from the startup world, I thought I was going to be spending all of my time in the library,” Fraser says. “That hasn’t been the case at all.”
Attracted by Notre Dame’s resources and strong alumni network, Fraser wasted no time in taking advantage of both. “I like the fact that I have enough time to get my work done for class and still go out and speak to someone at a company I admire or put myself in the position to figure out how what I’m learning in the classroom will play out in the field.”
Fraser has always been a fast starter
He found his passion for business at nine years old, in a Farmers’ Market in Connecticut. “I needed to start making money so I could buy these Star Wars action figures that I loved so much,” Fraser remembers. “So when I would go to the Farmers’ Market with my dad on Saturdays, I started talking to the vendors and asking what jobs I could do.”
He started sweeping for a quarter, moving boxes for a dollar, and eventually, the vendors were teaching him how to set back produce, take inventory, and present product to customers. Fraser was hooked.
Fraser’s love of startups started early
He launched his first startup in 2010 as a senior at the University of Richmond. It was an automated, smart registration process for students that would draw on historical registration numbers to predict student demand for classes and streamline the messy process of signing up for classes.
After a two-year partnership with the University, Fraser set his sights on another venture: Tree Sleeve, a coffee sleeve made of 100 percent repurposed sugarcane. After raising $65,000 through Kickstarter and getting the buy-in of coffee shop owners throughout Connecticut and New York, Fraser and his team licensed Tree Sleeve to a manufacturing company in the Northeast.
It’s no surprise that an entrepreneur like Fraser would find his way to the IDEA Center at Notre Dame.
The IDEA Center: A crash course in entrepreneurialism
The IDEA Center is the fundamental resource for all commercialization and entrepreneurial activities at the University of Notre Dame. The Center helps faculty, staff, and students develop their ideas, inventions, technologies, and businesses, and provides entrepreneurial education to the Notre Dame community.
One of the ways the Center tests new ideas is through the Commercialization Engine, a process that gathers feedback from potential consumers, determines an idea’s market fit, and eventually helps Notre Dame entrepreneurs develop a business plan.
Fraser served as an entrepreneurial lead on a three-person team that handled ideas in the mid-point of the process. “By the time an idea got to us, we were testing product market fit, getting on the phone with potential customers and trying to determine what problem this product would solve,” Fraser says.
Fraser was also able to present the ideas-in-progress to potential investors every Monday. “Presenting becomes second nature to you at that point,” Fraser says. “The IDEA Center is doing some great work, and they’re doing it an extreme clip.”
In addition to finishing up his first year of classes, Fraser is now focusing much of his attention on his work with LimeBike, a dockless bike-sharing company that launched in 2017. His position as a university brand manager with the company has grown, as he’s brought his passion and his past experience to bear on the challenges this rapidly expanding company faces.
“I’m getting a lot of experience with the LimeBike marketing team, helping them with various projects,” Fraser says. “One of the most exciting projects is that we’re going to be launching electric scooters in select major cities in the near future. I’m going to be able to be part of the hiring process for those teams and will be involved in developing partnerships in those areas.”
Fraser believes his Notre Dame experience has prepared him for his work with LimeBike—and for whatever else the future might hold. “The IDEA Center position shaped me for the LimeBike position I took on in January,” Fraser says. “I feel that Notre Dame is definitely helping me evolve. In less than a year, I think I’ve grown 5x. If you have a plan, Notre Dame is going to work with you and help you realize it.”