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Darla Moore School of Business

Moore School alumnus still building Proving Ground-winning company

Dec. 19, 2019

Moore School alumnus Ian Mackintosh (‘13 IMBA, ’07 USC JD) won The Proving Ground competition in 2015 for his bottle cooler product and business idea that he calls Brevino; four years later, Mackintosh is still expanding his company while balancing a full-time job and family.

Mackintosh said he decided to pursue his International MBA because he wanted to push himself beyond the repetition he experienced during his first career as an attorney. Having enjoyed the management and finance coursework from his undergraduate degree, Mackintosh thought a business graduate program would best suit him. Additionally, he said he wanted new challenges and opportunities, which he found both in the classroom through his coursework in the Moore School and through other USC programs like The Proving Ground.

The Proving Ground is USC’s entrepreneurial competition to identify and accelerate innovative business concepts. It is a five-month, three-stage competition that culminates with a live-pitch event. The winners of the competition are judged by seasoned entrepreneurs, past applicants and winners of The Proving Ground, faculty, students and a live audience. Participants have the chance to win up to $17,500 in cash to invest in their business idea.

Mackintosh said it is “disappointing” to see how many of the creative innovations that are presented at The Proving Ground are not fully realized. He admits being an entrepreneur can be difficult but thinks people should believe in their ideas and be willing to work through the challenges to see them succeed.

This is the mindset that Mackintosh has as he works a day job as a financial analyst at Southern Anesthesia & Surgical, Inc. in Columbia, South Carolina, while simultaneously working to grow Brevino.

Always looking for opportunities to promote Brevino, Mackintosh was excited to appear in November on South Carolina Public Radio on the South Carolina Business Review program to talk about the company and entrepreneurship.

“The ultimate goal is to transition Brevino from a side job to a full-time job, but that can only be achieved through expanding wholesales because then my personal time and energy will not be limiting factors,” Mackintosh said.

The time and energy Mackintosh can dedicate to Brevino has become even more limited as he and his wife welcomed a baby girl in May. Although Brevino is not currently his main focus, Mackintosh said he still plans to expand in sales and product categories in the next few years so that he may transition to Brevino being his full-time job.

Being the founder of Brevino, Mackintosh said he “does a bit of everything” within the business; he is responsible for developing, marketing and running Brevino. Mackintosh added that he relies on the financial modeling and financial statement analysis skills he learned in the Moore School IMBA program when dealing with the fiscal side of his business.

Brevino was recently granted a U.S. utility patent, and Mackintosh is working toward achieving similar patents in Europe and Australia. Mackintosh hopes to use these patents to extend sales and production of Brevino overseas. As a USC International MBA and law school graduate, Mackintosh specialized in finance, market strategy, international law and trade law, so he is well suited to expanding a business abroad.

Mackintosh said The Proving Ground provided him a launching off point for Brevino; he said he could not have started producing and selling the product without the funds he won from the competition. Mackintosh won $20,000 in the 2015 competition.

“In addition to the obvious benefits of start-up capital, [The Proving Ground] is very beneficial in forcing you to vet your business plan and have it stand up to scrutiny,” Mackintosh said. “The proper preparation for the competition will help you fully think through the plan and its limitations. From there, you know where to work and what to focus on to enable your business to grow.”

With Brevino beginning to generate enough revenue to pay its own bills, Mackintosh said he is excited and optimistic about Brevino’s future.

-Erin Mooney

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.