Renee Bourbeau, Co-Founder of Analytics Foundation

Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.

FcF: Tell us about yourself? 

Renee: I am a graduate of Harvard Business Analytics Program and went to Miami University for undergrad. My "first job" out of school was actually to work 2 jobs. I was a writer for Congressional Quarterly M-F and on the weekends, I was a Research Assistant for NBC Meet The Press, both based in Washington, DC. My career has evolved quite a lot since those days, but I do credit that early experience with the perseverance, fortitude and curiosity I have carried with me throughout.  Before any of this happened though, during my formative years, my grandmother was a mentor to me. She is an incredibly optimistic, kind-hearted person and still to this day she inspires me. 

FcF: What is Analytics Foundation?

Renee: Analytics Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Public Charity that connects Analytics Practitioners with other nonprofits through an online platform. Our mission is to use data science tools to help unlock some of the world's greatest opportunities. Analyticsfoundation.org is an opportunity for Executive or Masters-level Business Analytics Grads to build up their portfolios while contributing to the greater good. Nonprofits now have access to analytics solutions at a fraction of the cost of retail. 

FcF: How did you come up with Analytics Foundation?

Renee: Going through the Harvard Business Analytics Program (HBAP) and truly loving the content and experience, I wanted to gain more experience in the Analytics market.. At my HBAP graduation last summer, Professor Srikant Datar gave a moving speech about Mahatma Gandhi's comments on the Seven Deadly Sins (which I like to think of as Seven Opportunities for personal growth), and it planted a seed. I identified others with a similar desire to gain more experience in a client-facing manner, while also using our new skills for good, and put into practice what we learned through HBAP. Together we surveyed the analytics community and identified that there were dozens of others who wanted to participate.

-  Video cover from Analytics Foundation. -

FcF: What were the first three steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue this idea?

Renee:

  1. I talked with others in my network to get their thoughts and opinions on the concept, and identified wonderful business partners who could add value immediately to the vision because they are experts in their area of specialty. Dana Marble is Co-Founder and Co-CEO and Nick Ventresco is Director and Creator of Platform. I feel very fortunate to be working with both of these talented and creative colleagues.  
  2. Marketing and branding is a lot of fun to me, so I researched and brainstormed to come up with a clever name for the venture and settled on Analytics Foundation, a humble nod to my heroes Melinda and Bill Gates. We then purchased the domain analyticsfoundation.org and then tested the name and received overwhelmingly positive reviews. So many people were amazed that the domain was still available and it was low risk to purchase in advance via GoDaddy, as it was only $9 - a huge gain right out of the gate!
  3. We then had to decide if we would operate as an Agency or Platform model. We surveyed our network and held numerous meetings on this topic. We sided with the crowd and the Platform model prevailed, and we then proceeded to build out the model brick by virtual brick, and have been very intentional on every aspect of the nonprofit.

FcF: If you are CoFounder, how did you meet your CoFounder? What do you look for in finding your CoFounders?

Renee: I met Dana Marble in the Harvard Business Analytics Program, during Professor Karim Lakhani's Digital Strategy and Innovation course. Dana went above and beyond after my case was selected and I presented it to the cohort. After class, Dana gave me incredible feedback and ideas for ways I could continue to grow my practice. It was such a kind and selfless gesture that meant a great deal to me. I met Nick Ventresco, Director of Platform, through HBAP as well. Nick actually responded to our initial Interest Survey and then Talent Roll Call and it was obvious that he would add tremendous value.  The quality that I look for in a Co-Founder and other leaders is respect for one another and a different set of skills so that we may complement each other.

FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?

Renee: My advice is to use analytics in your own business to help you make informed decisions. If something isn't working don't be too proud to ignore it - use analytics to pivot if necessary so that you can push forward and survive. If you want to do something, nothing should stand in your way, you must find a way to take the next step. We had some disappointments during the launch of Analytics Foundation that could have easily derailed us, but we pushed forward and made the changes necessary to see our project through. I am very proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to helping others as a result.    

FcF: How can the Female CoFounder community help you?  

Renee: I would love to see Analytics Foundation highlighted within the Female CoFounder community.  As a nonprofit, we do not have a huge budget for large-scale marketing so this would be a dream come true for us. I would be honored if my story can help to erase the boundaries of what is possible. I also have a full-time role in academia.  My free time is devoted to the nonprofit because I want to keep pushing myself to the highest levels and keep advancing my career by creating opportunities and helping others in the process.  

FcF: How can people get in touch with you?

Renee: You can check out AnalyticsFoundation's website!

You can also reach out to @Renee Bourbeau on the FCF slack channel!