Berkeley Haas | Mr. Upward Trend
GMAT 730, GPA 2.85
MIT Sloan | Mr. Unicorn Strategy
GMAT 740 (estimated), GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Financial Controller
GRE Yet to Take, Target is ~330, GPA 2.5
Harvard | Mr. Data & Strategy
GMAT 710 (estimate), GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. Class President
GRE 319.5, GPA 3.76
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Man
GRE 330, GPA 3.25
Stanford GSB | Mr. S.N. Bose Scholar
GMAT 770, GPA 3.84
MIT Sloan | Mr. Surgery to MBB
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Foster School of Business | Mr. Tesla Gigafactory
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. PM to FinTech
GMAT 740, GPA 6/10
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Emporio Armani
GMAT 780, GPA 3.03
MIT Sloan | Mr. Generic Nerd
GMAT 720, GPA 3.72
Columbia | Mr. Alien
GMAT 700, GPA 3.83
Harvard | Ms. Media Entertainment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Jill Of All Trades
GRE 314, GPA 3.36
Ross | Mr. NCAA to MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Finance in Tech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Energy
GMAT 760, GPA 7.9/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. Indian O&G EPC
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Tuck | Ms. Green Biz
GRE 326, GPA 3.15
Wharton | Ms. Female Engineer
GRE 323, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Innovator
GMAT 720, GPA 3.99
London Business School | Mr. CFA Charterholder
GMAT 770, GPA 3.94
Tuck | Mr. Federal Civilian
GMAT 780, GPA 3.4
Kellogg | Mr. Texan Adventurer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
London Business School | Mr. Impact Financier
GMAT 750, GPA 7.35/10
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Contractor
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2

A Wharton Trio Makes School Loans More Affordable

After graduating from Brandeis University in 2002, Klein worked as a mediator in the Harvard Mediation Program for five years. He spent nearly three years at McKinsey & Co. as a senior analyst and then more than five years at American Express before going off to Wharton in 2011.

Though he dropped out of Wharton after the first year to pursue CommonBond, Klein believes his shortened MBA experience to be central to his new entrepreneurial life. “My year at Wharton was one of the most transformative years of my life,” says Klein, who was 31 when he went to business school with the intention of starting a business. “That is one of the unsung benefits of business school–personal transformation. It helped me understand who I was and what I wanted out of life. What drives me, what irks me, what motivates me, and what I should be spending my life on.”

And, of course, what partners to have and what business to start. “The idea was hatched in my brain as I started thinking about paying for the degree,” adds Klein. He wrote the first business plan in his introductory entrepreneurship class. He met Taormina, CommonBond’s chief financial officer, through an entrepreneurship club event, and Shean, former chief operating officer and now a board member, through a friend. Klein and his partners then leveraged the Wharton network to raise the company’s first $3.5 million, including $1 million from an angel investor and Wharton alum.

Each of the three partners brought unique, yet essential skills to the business. Klein’s background in consumer finance was buttressed by Taormina’s six years at J.P. Morgan, where he was an advisor to high-net worth clients, and by Shean’s experience in law. She was a joint MBA/JD graduate in 2012 who now works full-time as an associate at Greenhill & Co.

“Having three co-founders was optimal,” insists Klein. “Academic research shows that three founders are ideal to build a successful company. Two is too little. Four is a crowd. Three is the perfect stool or pyramid.”

The three also felt strongly that they wanted their business directly connected to a meaningful social mission. For every degree fully funded on CommonBond’s platform, the company funds the education of a student for a full year at the African School of Excellence. For every new city CommonBond takes its loan program, the startup also funds financial literacy programming in a local underserved community.

“Entrepreneurship is the hardest job I’ve ever had,” says Klein, whose grandfather came to the U.S. in 1949 and opened a shoe store in Bakersfield, CA. “We are living and breathing this all the time. People want to get into the startup world because they want more freedom, and they want to be rich. But it’s the hardest thing. You have no time for friends. Every waking hour I’m working. I haven’t had a day off in a year and one-half. I wake up every morning wanting to do nothing else with my life. It’s that fulfilling.”

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

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.