MBA Startups: Turning Down J&J To Do Her Own Thing
Even before she stepped foot on the campus of the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business, Naruby Schlenker had dreamt about creating her own business. She then worked in finance for Eli Lily, rotating through internal auditing and project management roles to become a Six Sigma black belt in the process. But the Venezuela-born Schlenker so sorely wanted to start something on her own that she used her MBA application essays to discuss her startup goal.
Like most MBAs graduating with a pile of student loans, however, she thought she would work as a brand manager for a few years to gain some marketing knowhow and help pay off her loans before going the startup route. Once at UT, even with a lucrative job offer from Johnson & Johnson in hand, she reconsidered.
“I thought, ‘How long would I have to wait to be surrounded by such brilliant people, be blessed to be a part of such a fantastic team and have my hands on such a novel idea with the right team to execute it again?,’” she says. “The stars had aligned and I just knew that it was the right time.”
So when Schlenker graduated with her MBA in 2010, she joined several classmates to launch Ordoro. The startup markets a web application that helps small-to-medium companies manage their back office functions for online sales on such sites as EBay and Amazon. Through Ordoro, business owners can download orders, print shipping labels, manage inventory and deal with multiple retail outlets and suppliers—all in one convenient interface. Schlenker serves as co-founder and chief marketing officer of the company.
Before attending the University of Texas to get my MBA, I wanted to gain some on-the-ground sales experience to round out my background in finance and project management. So I negotiated my way into an account executive role in Venezuela for several months. After that assignment was over, I began my MBA experience.
When I applied to UT’s McCombs School of Business, I wrote about my goal of starting my own company in my essays. I’ve always wanted to start something of my own. While I was in business school, I vied for and was granted a brand management internship with Johnson and Johnson. It was important for me to add that perspective to what I had learned while working in sales and finance at previous companies. Ultimately, I turned down an offer for full time employment at Johnson and Johnson to start Ordoro.
A lot of the momentum that we’ve been able to experience at Ordoro has been based on skillful execution in providing a solution for two need trends that we’ve observed in our market research over the years. The first is that retailers want to be able to list their products with as many outlets as possible. So they end up managing them separately. Ordoro allows them to aggregate their engagement with multiple outlets, deal with them all in one place and synchronize their sales activities across all sites.
The second need that we see is that more and more businesses want to follow a drop shipping model, where they sell products that they don’t have to keep inventory for. They make the sale and the supplier ships directly to the end user.
Ordoro enables that model, and we have also launched an educational site, www.makeshiphappen.com, that walks current and aspiring entrepreneurs through the process of setting up a drop shipping profit center.
I met two of my co-founders while at school at The University of Texas (McCombs). The person who eventually became Ordoro’s CEO previously worked for I2 Technology, a Fortune 500 logistics consulting firm in Dallas. During our first semester in business school, he realized that there was a market for the solution that Ordoro provides while working on a logistics project with a small online retailer.