JHUCarey Executive MBA Candidate Has Scent of a Winner in Competition

Michael Fensterstock is a soon-to-graduate Executive MBA student at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. His wife, Melissa “Momo” Matarese Fensterstock, recently graduated from Harvard Business School. During a trip to Southeast Asia, they sniffed a business opportunity in a special blend of natural fragrances that helps travelers avoid insect bites and foul odors at the same time. The pair acquired rights to the dual-action product and returned to the United States to bottle and market it to customers who would like an upscale fragrance that can also fend off mosquitoes.

The husband-and-wife team with the company name Mikey & Momo entered Aromaflage, the product that resulted from their initial inspiration, in the Northeastern U.S. Regional phase of the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition, held in New York City this past March. Melissa learned of the competition through her local HBS club chapter in New York.

How did it go? They are now on their way to the global finals. “We won $5,000 in legal services, and since we won the Northeastern U.S. Regional Competition, we are invited to the worldwide competition at the end of April,” Michael reports.

For the finals, Michael and Melissa will submit a 90-second video about Aromaflage’s team, model, and business plan for judging by HBS alumni around the world.

In October 2013, the Aromaflage team took part in the Johns Hopkins Innovation Factory Entrepreneurship Summit, an event hosted by the Carey Business School and involving many Johns Hopkins constituencies, including the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the university’s Office of Technology Transfer.

Of the Executive MBA program at Carey, Michael says its schedule has enabled him to further his company’s growth because it focuses the learning experience in several residencies in Baltimore, online course work, and one eight-day international residency. The program allowed him to keep a New York base for the launch of Aromaflage.

The feedback he gained at the Entrepreneurship Summit and through his Executive MBA program classmates helped with connections to potential retailers and partners, and based on market input, the couple made the packaged product smaller and less expensive.

The prize for winning the whole New Venture Competition is $25,000. The Fensterstocks say they could use it to invest in the next Aromaflage venture, an outdoor candle that Michael predicts will be the best on the market. “We’re creating a brand around the concept of ‘fragrance with a function’ and really want to own that space,” he adds. Like the fragrance, the Aromaflage candle will be healthy and attractive. Of course, it will repel bugs, too.