The MBA Entrepreneurship series on MBA Crystal Ball continues as Nupur Gupta describes the various entrepreneurial resources available in the best MBA programs. She also lists down some top startups that were built using the resources available in bschool.
Welcome back to Part 2 of our two-part series on Entrepreneurship. In Part 1: Best Entrepreneurship MBA Programs, we looked at the resources for Entrepreneurship available at five schools i.e. Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, MIT Sloan and Berkeley Haas.
In today’s post, we will look at a few startups from graduates of these schools and also how the founding members at these startups were able to leverage their education, resources and network at these schools to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Identified.com is a career site for young professionals under the age of 30. The company is a result of a collaborative research project between the School of Engineering and Graduate School of Business at Stanford. The premise is to make job search a more fun and engaging prospect for the Facebook Millennial Generation. The site was started by Stanford MBA graduates Brendan and Adeyemi. The two met at business school and conceived Identified as part of a research project. To date, Identified has raised $22.5mn in venture funding and has a user base of over 10 million users aged 18-29.
RentTheRunway.com was started by section-mates Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss at Harvard Business School. Their company enables women to wear a new dress for every occasion. The outfits enable women to look trendy and glamorous at all times at just a fraction of the price that they would otherwise pay to buy a designer dress. In addition, this also enables designers to reach a greater audience and create an addiction for their wares with future clients. The company has received coverage in esteemed publications such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Time, among others.
WallStreetOasis.com (WSO) is an online community, which provides guidance and entertainment to professionals working in finance. WSO receives over 4 million Pageviews a month and provides various products and services to its members such as financial modeling training, industry guides, mock interviews, mentoring, resume review and access to Wall Street jobs. WSO is a great example of a startup that was started by a founder before business school and was fleshed out further using b-school resources. WSO was initially started in 2006 as ibankingoasis.com and was later renamed to wallstreetoasis.com. Its founder, Patrick Curtis, is a 2010 MBA graduate from The Wharton School.
HotPotato (MIT Sloan)*
HotPotato is a location-based social media startup based out of New York that got acquired by Facebook in 2010. HotPotato is a little bit unique than the other startups mentioned here in that co-founder Saadiq Rodgers-King (MIT Sloan MBA ’08) got involved with it in a part-time capacity and then quit his full-time job (in 2009) to work on the startup full-time. Also, another unique aspect of the startup is that while the others are still around, HotPotato now redirects directly to Facebook and as part of the acquisition, all user data was deleted.
* Note: HotPotato was acquired by Facebook in 2010
IndieGoGo.com (Berkeley Haas)
Indiegogo is an international crowd-funding site founded by Danae Ringelmann, Slava Rubin, and Eric Schell in 2007. The idea behind the startup is to empower ideas and enable people to raise and donate funds easily. Danae & Eric are 2008 graduates of Haas and met at business school. Through their venture, they have managed to democratize fundraising and enable entrepreneurs to create campaigns and raise funds based on their needs.
How an MBA helped entrepreneurs in their startups
All startups require different skills pertaining to Operations, Marketing & Communications, Finance, Accounting, Strategy and more. An MBA education helps provide the basic foundation that is required by startups in execution. As an example, when creating their business plan or raising funds, the founders at Identified would certainly have been using their knowledge of Finance to build their financial projections.
Resources for entrepreneurs available at business school were covered in-depth in Part 1 of this series (read here). As an example, while at Wharton, Pat Gilbert (of WallStreetOasis, mentioned above) used the entrepreneurial resources at Wharton to his use and WSO was selected to be part of the Venture Initiation Program in 2008 and also received the Wharton Venture Award in 2009.
Business school provides an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs to network, not only while they are at school, but also beyond. The network can be imperative for many purposes such as fundraising, founding team, fulfilling human resource needs. As an example, Danae & Eric (of IndieGoGo) met at business school.
An intangible benefit that business schools provide is that of brand. Even though people may not openly admit it, having the brand on your resume can make an impact with many aspects of your startup – right from fundraising to public relations. Given that this is an intangible benefit, I would rather not quote examples here. Regardless, I am sure that at least some of would be able to connect the pieces for yourself.
Note: The intent of the article is not to cover each startup in great detail but to explain the basic nature of the startup and also the way that business school aided entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journey. Readers are encouraged to research into these startups in greater detail on their own. They all have a fantastic story to tell!