When Kevin Marvinac entered the full-time MBA program at Chicago’s Booth School of Business, he did so with the same intention and question a growing number of young professionals have. He wanted a pivot. He also wondered if he had the entrepreneurial chops to start a venture. “I wanted a reset button to see if I could make it into tech,” Marvinac, 29, tells Poets&Quants. “And meanwhile, explore whether I was really, in my heart, a startup person. Or whether I was a person who just had entrepreneurial qualities that could work in a big organization.”
For now, Marvinac is a startup person. TransparentMBA, the MBA-specific job compensation and satisfaction platform he founded alongside three other Boothies, is about to get a major facelift through an $850,000 venture capital seed round. Led by Chicago-based venture capital firm Hyde Park Angels, Marvinac says the $850k announced today (Sept. 27) will go toward expanding the MBA platform and developing another, undergraduate-focused platform. TransparentMBA also announced official partnerships with career offices at 19 leading business schools, including Chicago Booth, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, MIT Sloan, Michigan Ross, and Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
WHAT TRANSPARENTMBA DOES
Though the VC round is relatively small compared to some MBA-led startups that are receiving billions, the influence this backing has on the MBA population moving forward will be substantial. Already, the company says, 25% of the current “MBA population” has registered since launch last March. Right now, users can filter data — input by current and recently graduated MBAs — based on job functions, industries, and companies. For example, a quick look at the broad function category reveals investment banking has the highest average full-time compensation package. It also reveals, on average, that investment bankers work more hours than any other MBA-related job function at more than 75, and have a very low overall job satisfaction rate.
Once they’ve clicked on investment banking, users may see which companies have hired the majority of TransparentMBA users, which companies pay the most, where MBAs work the most, and where they are most satisfied. According to current data, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has hired more MBAs than any other investment bank, Wells Fargo pays the most, and TransparentMBA users are most satisfied at 360 Corporate Finance — despite working an average of 95 hours a week.
Company-specific data currently reveals some increasingly granular data. Recently graduated MBAs working at Google, for example, make an average of $125,000, but also receive an average of $48,000 in stock compensation. MBA interns at Google should expect a salary equivalent equal to $95,000 and $9,000 in relocation assistance. Account executives at Google are some of the most satisfied employees across industries and functions, the data also reveals.
UPGRADES WILL POINT TO MORE GRANULAR DATA, CAREER-PATH CAPABILITIES
Despite all the ways users can currently slice the data, Marvinac and co-founder and idea-originator Mitch Kirby are looking for more. Specifically, they expect the seed round to help them build out more specific demographics. For instance, users will be able to look at data of graduates from certain schools, who graduated during specific years, and who are working in San Francisco, New York, or any other major city or region. That’s coming in the next few months; Marvinac says soon they will be able to “hit the next level of specificity of data and really granular input” for users.
What’s more, Marvinac says, users will be able to slice data in a “career-path” format. “You will be able to pick as a user who you think is in your peer group — people like you, you’ll be able to see what jobs and careers they do,” Marvinac explains. “You’ll be able to see the compensation and satisfaction and work-life balance associated with those jobs. And you’ll be able to see where they go in their careers.”
For example, Marvinac explains, users may track the career path of a typical MBA in consulting, everything from which positions they hold to whether they’ve jumped industries or functions and when, and how their compensation and job satisfaction fluctuates throughout a career. “That’s what the (seed round) raise was for,” Marvinac says.
GETTING EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT OUT OF AN MBA — IN ONE YEAR
As much fascinating and useful data as TransparentMBA provides, its creation is equally valuable for MBAs considering similar paths. Both Marvinac and Kirby, the two remaining co-founders, entered Chicago Booth with an interest in entrepreneurship but no concrete idea. Kirby was eyeing venture capital and Marvinac was shooting for tech. And typical for entrepreneurs, both had to make significant sacrifices to pursue the fledgling venture. So far, to pursue TransparentMBA full-time Kirby has turned down a full-time venture capital offer and Marvinac has postponed graduating with his MBA.
“This is exactly what I wanted to get out of an MBA,” Marvinac explains. “I just happened to get it in one year and not two. I figured out how to scratch this entrepreneur itch that has been there my entire life, and I need to take it to the next level and go all-in on it. And that’s what we’re doing.”
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL ITCH
For Marvinac, the entrepreneurial itch — and specific career-focused platform — seemed genetically inevitable. Growing up in suburban Chicago, he watched his mom run her own career coaching business that focused on helping college seniors and recent college graduates find jobs. At 13, his mother made him take a résumé to land his first job. “Which was ridiculous because I was 13 and didn’t have anything to put on a résumé,” he laughs now. As a 16-year-old, Marvinac built an online platform for his fellow high school students to share their academic skills.
Marvinac’s love of tech and building things led him to mechanical engineering at Notre Dame. But his disillusionment with robots and fascination with economics led to a switch to Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. When graduation came, even though his professors were telling him one thing, Marvinac decided to do something else. “Despite my professors saying i-banking or bust, I decided to go in a different direction,” he remembers.
Marvinac chose booze sales. As a sales representative for Modesto, California-based E & J Gallo, he scoured the Midwest, selling wine and spirits to grocers. Within three years, Marvinac was managing two teams of six representatives as a district sales manager. After three years, Marvinac was moved from Gallo’s Detroit and Cincinnati offices to its headquarters in Modesto as a sales and marketing analyst. A year later, he was bumped up again to a national account manager — and within six years he had worked himself up from a glorified “bottom of the barrel” salesperson to a national manager at the headquarters of at one of the country’s oldest and largest wineries.
It wasn’t enough. “I wanted to see if I could scratch the entrepreneurial itch I’ve always had,” he says.