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Bozhanka Vitanova, MA ’16 Brings Entrepreneurship Experience to China

Brandeis IBS Alumna Builds Entrepreneurial Muscles in Shanghai


November 14, 2017

Bozhanka Vitanova, MA ’16 recently returned from Shanghai – where when she got there, she didn’t know anyone, her way around the city or even the language. Selected and sponsored by the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, she was one of eight people from various countries tasked with implementing from scratch a new initiative that helps improve an aspect of Shanghai.

Vitanova, who is an entrepreneur herself, chose to develop a pop-up “entrepreneurial muscle gym” based on her thesis for her Master’s in International Economics at Brandeis International Business School (IBS). In only a week, she helped local aspiring entrepreneurs build their own startups and learn to flex their entrepreneurial muscles including awareness, problem-solving and resourcefulness.

“Over seven days, I practiced seven core entrepreneurial skills and shared them with entrepreneurs-to-be across the city,” said Vitanova. “At Brandeis IBS, I learned to explore without boundaries, which greatly prepared me for this trip. The project was liberating because there were no boundaries or constraints, and we were empowered to build something completely from scratch.”

Engaging with university students, incubators, government agencies and other stakeholders, Vitanova set out to practice core entrepreneurial skills in unconventional ways. On her first day in Shanghai, she focused on one entrepreneurial muscle – awareness – by learning Chinese martial arts. Another day, she focused on communication, recognizing that communication styles vary between the United States and China. She worked with a local entrepreneur to create conversation starters that would fit the Chinese business communication style. The next day, she practiced resourcefulness at an international Chinese school, building kites from bamboo in an exercise to help students imaginatively use tools to create tangible outcomes.

Vitanova also manages the programs at Brandeis’ Hassenfeld Family Innovation Center. Using tech innovation and findings from her research on what makes successful impact entrepreneurs, she supports Brandeis students, faculty and staff in building impactful businesses and commercializing technology aimed at repairing the world. In January, she was selected to attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos and was invited to speak about the intersection of technology and social impact.


Bozhanka Vitanova (center) with new friends and colleagues in Shanghai.


Bozhanka Vitanova (left) in her "pop up" gymnasium.