Life often has a way of revealing passions that you never knew you had and taking you places where you never thought you might be. Such was the case for Jennifer Beall, a 2010 graduate of the Kellogg School of Management.
Jennifer completed her undergraduate studies in mathematics at Duke University before working as a management consultant for Marakon in San Francisco, CA. She remained in consulting for two and a half years before attending Kellogg.
Today, Jennifer is Founder and CEO of CleanBeeBaby, LLC, an eco-friendly cleaning service for baby car seats and strollers based in Los Angeles, CA. A former Kellogg Business Plan Competition winner, Jennifer has perfected her business model and is now raising funds to develop it into a franchise opportunity for other ambitious entrepreneurs. She is also involved in philanthropic initiatives with community organizations such as Baby Buggy and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
When I graduated from high school in Austin, TX, I ventured out into the world thinking that I would follow in the footsteps of Michael Dell. With that goal in mind, I entered Duke University as an undergraduate majoring in engineering. I ended up hating engineering and changed my major to mathematics instead.
After graduating from college, I moved to San Francisco and began working as a management consultant. I worked on the Wal-Mart account, where I began to cut my teeth and build expertise in retail and CPG (consumer packaged goods).
After a few years of work I decided that I wanted to go back to school and earn my MBA. I took the GMAT, applied to several programs that I liked and entered the admissions frenzy that takes place every year for those who wish to attend the very best schools—schools like Kellogg.
It was 2007, however, and The Great Recession was about to wreak havoc on the economy. And as Murphy’s Law would have it, my entire consulting office was laid off during that winter. I was actually waiting for admissions decisions from business schools at the time.
After being laid off while still an applicant, I needed to get a job right away and ended up moving to Los Angeles to take a strategy position with Roll Global, the company which owns the Fiji Water brand. After a long and grueling admissions cycle that I endured while scrambling to find gainful employment, I was admitted to Kellogg. Then, in a stroke of good fortune, Roll agreed to sponsor me. They offered me a post MBA job as well.
I began my studies at Kellogg just as AIG was starting to crash—talk about an exciting time to learn about finance! I was 25 years old at the time and was literally fascinated with the opportunity to study the causes of what the business world was experiencing in such vivid detail while in business school.
Then there was something else for me to be excited about. I had come to business school knowing that I wanted to found my own company. At the time, however, I saw myself as more of a strategic general manager than a pure entrepreneur. So my goal was to find a technical co-founder who had an idea that I could execute with as a partner.
Since I was being sponsored, I did not need to invest any of my time into recruiting so I had plenty of time to work on my plan. I spent my first year in business school looking for problems that needed a solution. I was told to do what I was passionate about, but my 100-hour work weeks as a consultant had not left me very much time for hobbies. In truth, I had no idea what I was passionate about. I was clueless. There was one concept, however, that began to grate on my mind.