Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Harvard | Mr. Low GRE
GRE 314, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Do Little
GRE 335, GPA 3.6 (High Distinction)
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
Harvard | Mr. Infantry Commander
GMAT 730, GPA 3.178
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
NYU Stern | Mr. Beer Guy
GRE 306, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Ms. HR To Finance
GMAT 760, GPA 7.65/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Social To Tech
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. CPG Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5

The Wharton MBAs Behind Warby Parker

Warby Parker co-founder David Gilboa started his first business at age 12--it ended with a cease-and-desist letter

Warby Parker co-founder David Gilboa started his first business at age 12–it ended with a cease-and-desist letter

David Gilboa’s first stab at entrepreneurship ended in a cease-and-desist letter from Warner Brothers. He was 12 at the time and bootlegging CDs out of his parents’ house. “Ever since then, I imagined myself ending up doing something entrepreneurial,” the 32-year-old says. So, nearly a decade later, when he left his $700 Prada glasses in a seat-back pocket on a plane in Thailand, he didn’t race out to purchase another pair, but used his pain point as the beginning of a business plan.

Gilboa, still glasses-less, showed up at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School “blind as a bat.” He was commiserating about the high price of specs with fellow Wharton MBAs Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt and Jeffrey Raider in a computer lab, when an idea began to form. What if they could bypass the glasses industry monoliths, create their own frames, and sell them online? Blumenthal, who formerly directed a nonprofit that doles out low-cost eyewear in developing countries, knew firsthand that quality glasses could be produced for a fraction of the standard cost. But instead of simply shelling out affordable eyewear, what if they built a lifestyle brand around boutique-worthy frames?

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal formerly directed a nonprofit that doles out affordable eyewear in developing countries

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal formerly directed a nonprofit that doles out affordable eyewear in developing countries

The four nurtured their startup idea at Wharton and reached out to faculty for advice. David Bell, a marketing professor, signed on as one of their earliest investors and still helps out with customer analysis. They also tapped into their target market–“relentlessly” surveying their classmates on everything from 2,000 potential company names to how much to charge per pair. In the end, they settled on Warby Parker, a hybrid of Jack Kerouac characters, for the name and $95 for the price. “Business school is the best time to start a business,” Gilboa says. “You have plenty of time, plenty of flexibility. You don’t have to make the tough choice to leave a job and paycheck, and you are surrounded by business experts.”

For the Warby Parker crew, the gamble paid off. Retail heavyweights such as Millard Drexler, the chief executive of J. Crew, and American Express signed on as investors. In fact, more than a dozen investors have already poured some $55 million into the chic purveyor of prescription eyewear.

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Gilboa’s advice to fellow MBAs with entrepreneurial ambitions? “If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, there’s no reason not to test it out while you’re still in school,” he says. “All the traditional options will still be there if the business fails, and most employers will respect the fact that you tried to start something.”

DON’T MISS: Poets&Quants’ Top 100 MBA Startups or The Top 20 B-Schools for Entrepreneurship or The Top Investors in MBA Startups