Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Kellogg | Mr. Maximum Impact
GMAT Waiver, GPA 3.77
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. Interstellar Thinker
GMAT 740, GPA 7.6/10
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Female Sales Leader
GMAT 740 (target), GPA 3.45
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Gay Techie
GRE 332, GPA 3.88
INSEAD | Mr. Product Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 63%

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