Stanford GSB | Mr. Nuclear Vet
GMAT 770, GPA 3.86
NYU Stern | Mr. NYC Consultant
GRE 327, GPA 3.47
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Air Force Vet
GRE 311, GPA 3.6
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. MIT Hopeful
GRE 316, GPA 3.77
Yale | Mr. Yale Hopeful
GMAT 750, GPA 2.9
Wharton | Mr. Do Little
GRE 335, GPA 3.6 (High Distinction)
Harvard | Mr. Infantry Commander
GMAT 730, GPA 3.178
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Harvard | Mr. Low GRE
GRE 314, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80
Stanford GSB | Mr. Tier 2 Consultant
GMAT 770, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Latin American
GMAT 770, GPA 8 of 10
Columbia | Mr. Brandless
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Ms. Decision Scientist
GMAT 730, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Ambivalent Applicant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Columbia | Mr. Reinvention
GMAT 780, GPA 2.3
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Green CPA
GMAT 690, GPA 3.96
Tuck | Mr. Mega Bank
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Latin International
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Indian Deferred
GMAT Will take next month but expecting 750+, GPA 8.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Immigrant Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
NYU Stern | Mr. Media Tech Hopeful
GRE 321, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future MBA
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
Wharton | Mr. Biotech Social Impact
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Indian Data Guy
GRE 325, GPA 7.06

A Publicity Stunt That Could Backfire

It’s a director of admissions worst nightmare: You accept an business school applicant to your world famous MBA program and then he uses the invite as little more than a publicity stunt to enhance his business.

Shockingly, that’s what Mike Moradian is doing to the Harvard Business School.

The Californian was accepted to HBS in December for the upcoming fall term. But instead of packing his bags for the trip to Boston, he sent out a news release yesterday (Aug. 8) on PR Newswire under the provocative headline: “Should I go to Harvard? Social Media Vote Decides for CollegeBudget.com CEO.”

To gain attention for the launch of another business last week, Moradian set up a website to ask people to vote on whether he should attend Harvard or stay with his business. The newly launched business, CollegeBudget, is a Groupon-like deal idea for college students.

The publicity gimmick apparently worked. The story has been picked up by media outlets as varied as The Washington Post, TechCrunch, BostInnovation, and Business Insider. Of more than 25,000 votes cast as of Aug. 10, slightly more than half are urging Moradian to go to HBS.

Moradian denies it’s merely an attempt to gain attention for his business. “I don’t consider this to be a publicity stunt,” he says. “It has been a meaningful way to get feedback. This is a crowdsourcing concept. It’s an opportunity to highlight what I’m doing and have people give me advice on what they’d like me to do.”

Though Moradian concedes he did provide advance warning of the publicity campaign to Harvard’s admissions staff, he has since been in touch with the school and says it did not express any displeasure over his decision to seek attention.

Moradian graduated from UCLA in 2007, worked as an advisory associate for KPMG for less than two years before starting a social website called CampusBuddy.com in early 2008. He was accepted into Harvard last December, but contends he is still undecided about starting school there this fall.

“I’m willing to walk away from what could be a once in a lifetime educational opportunity, but only if I feel that other people share my vision for CollegeBudget and see the value in what we can do for college students,” Moradian said in the news release. “The choice is yours America, choose wisely.”

Well, yes and no. “I put down a deposit already,” Moradian says in an interview, “so clearly I have the intention to go.”

On his LinkedIn profile, Moradian had already claimed the Harvard Business School degree, indicating that he attended the school from 2010 to 2011 (see below). Most incoming students wouldn’t put the degree on the educational portions of their LinkedIn profiles. Instead, they would write “MBA Candidate, Class of 2013.”

After reading an earlier version of this story, however, Moradian corrected his LinkedIn profile, removing any mention of Harvard Business School at all. He says that it was “a default setting” by LinkedIn that led to the error.

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About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.