Oh, How I Love Thee; Let Me Count the Ways
Deep affinity notwithstanding, there are some very specific people, faculty, thought leaders and resources that have made Wharton arise as the best choice for me.
Wharton’s San Francisco Campus
- Bi-coastal Footprint – Currently, the top ecosystems for tech entrepreneurship and activity are the San Francisco Bay Area, New York and Austin. Boston is generally considered the next hottest area and Philly (to my surprise) is apparently a step or two behind that. Wharton’s east and west coast campuses and network give me fairly direct access to any of those places except Austin. Philly, New York and the Bay Area in particular (the 2 heaviest hitters and one secondary) are definitely within easy reach of a Wharton entrepreneur. Check.
- Professors Peter Fader, Eric T. Bradlow and the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative – I am about 99% sure that I will end up building something that deals with data. For that reason, I”ve been crosseyed about the prospect of working with Peter Fader, Eric Bradlow and the WCAI faculty since I stumbled into their area of the website some months ago while writing my essays (I wrote an entire essay on the WCAI). Professor Fader is one of the foremost thought leaders in the world on customer analytics–something that I have a ton of interest in and a good deal of experience with. Even if I were not looking to build a data-based company (most likely dealing with customer analytics), his knowledge is priceless to any entrepreneur; especially when one considers the fact that the #1 reason why most start ups fail is that they are not able to attract and cultivate a paying customer base prior to running out of capital. Then when I discovered how willing prof. Fader was to speak with me and how energetic he was when he realized that I loved his discipline, Wharton earned about 1,000 points. I felt it foreshadowed quite a bit about what my experience might be in engaging the right mentors. Check.
Professor Karl Ulrich
- Professors Karl Ulrich, Christian Terwiesch and Innovation Tournaments – A while back, Ankur Kumar introduced me to Davis Smith, the 2011 Wharton grad who founded Baby.com.br Brazil’s (well funded and handsomely profitable) online Target for moms with babies. Thing is, I’d been following the guy on Quora for months and didn’t even realize that he had gone to Wharton. During our talk, he introduced me to the concept of an innovation tournament–basically a data-driven method for selecting one to a couple of exceptional opportunities from a hoard of opportunities of various quality (generally as the result of either submissions or brainstorming). The phrase and book were the work of Wharton professors K. Ulrich and C. Terwiesch, who had also developed a free online tool called The Darwinator to implement the process. I set up a Darwinator account right away and have been playing with it ever since. The larger picture here is that I realized some time ago that a lot of my struggles in prior entrepreneurial ventures came from jumping into an idea that had inherent, mission critical limitations that I did not see because I was so adamant about “getting started right away”. In many ways, Innovation Tournaments provides an answer to one of my biggest developmental weaknesses that has haunted me for years. I’m great at operations but blah when it comes to idea creation and development. I need to learn from mentors who are leading thought in that area right now. Turns out they’re at Wharton. Check.
- Negotiations Class at Wharton – Something else that Davis shared with me was that the Negotiations class that he had taken with professor Diamond (living legend) at Wharton had been worth the entire investment in his MBA. One of my c/o 15 classmates whose husband graduated from Wharton a few years ago and now works in gaming tells me that over time there is another professor who has matched and sometimes even exceeds Diamond in the demand for his Negotiations class. Either way, I’m fairly adamant about positioning myself under the tutledge of at least one of these professors for that very course. Check.
- OPIM 654: Design of Web-Based Products and Services – I was tipped off by this course, taught by prof. Karl Ulrich, by Carlos Vega, a fellow Whartonite from the c/o 2014 who is also interested in data-based business models. I wrote in my essays how I wanted to build a company around Sotware-as-a-Serivce (SaaS). This course ties directly into much of what I will need to know to extend my existing knowledge and experience in this area. I must have it. Hello? What’s That? A Wharton MBA tailor made for me? I’m buyin. Check please!
- The Wharton Brand and Network – There were several things that were high on my broad list of priorities for schools: 1) strong entrepreneurship network 2) the right faculty mentors for my goals 3) a strong brand 4) a deep and wide network in finance and private equity. Wharton shone brightly in each of these areas, and even more so when I considered the aggregate power of its strengths in them all. Check. Check. Check. Check.
- The Wharton Founders Club – Every top business school seems to have an entrepreneurship club, so there isn’t much there that can differentiate one from another. Wharton, however, has a Founders Club (started by Davis Smith) in addition to their entrepreneurship club for those who are sold out and serious about building a company right now. I talked about this in my admit weekend post a bit and have gotten to know a few members of this group. As LadyRoadWarrier (Tuck ’14) and Cheetarah1980 (Booth ’14) would say, these are my people. Check.
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