Kellogg Does Its Own Bay Area Startup

Michael Xenakis, program lead for Kellogg’s San Francisco Winter Quarter. Courtesy photo


Indeed, Ruchi Jhaveri, 29, who had worked in finance at Uber before enrolling in Kellogg’s one-year MBA program, found that she could immediately use the class learning in her internship at Benhamou Global Ventures, a VC and private equity firm in Palo Alto. “We learned abut valuations and due diligence in class and then went to the internships and used it,” Jhaveri says. “That was pretty cool.”

Last year, 26.3% of Kellogg’s graduating class ended up in jobs on the West Coast, second only to the 31.4% who ended up in the Midwest. Of those westbound grads, 16.1% went to work in the San Francisco Bay Area. For anyone interested in working here, the option is not only a no-brainer. It can be a big head start on landing a great job.

“You really see the value of being here and going to a coffee chat or a conference,” says Jhaveri, who hopes to work in business development or strategy for a tech firm. “I want to go back to tech, and networking is key. The program is also a strong talking point and a differentiating factor. Being here as a student makes everyone want to talk to you. It’s all very friendly.”

Xenakis, who earned his Kellogg MBA in 1998 and spent most of his professional career at OpenTable, the online restaurant-reservation company based in San Francisco, was recruited by Darragh to be the program’s on-the-premises lead. “The program gives students exposure to growth-stage startups to help them decide if this is what they really want to do,” Xenakis says. “There is so much going on out here, coupled with all the young technical superstars who are starting these companies. And so far, the managers who have our interns say they are not only doing great work, they are doing meaningful work. They’re running product launches or looking into making key investments.”


No less crucial: Having a satellite campus in San Francisco would allow Kellogg to develop closer relationships with the school’s 3,500 alumni in the area. Xenakis says Kellogg MBAs play important roles in nearly 40 different firms in the Bay Area. “The second objective is to tap into the Bay Area alumni network and show how deeply committed we are to this startup world,” he says. “We’ve tapped into this energy from alumni out here.”

Kellogg alumni hold receptions and meetings with the students. They show up in classes for candid panels on entrepreneurship and venture capital. Several of the internship opportunities are in companies where Kellogg MBAs are key players. A recent venture capital field trip featured visits to three VC firms hosted by Kellogg alone at Canaan Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, and Signia Ventures. And on another recent night, Kellogg students trooped off to meet with HotelTonight co-founder and COO Jared Simonone, one of two Kellogg MBAs on the three-person founding team that launched the last-minute hotel reservation app.

Darragh, who seems eager to see the pilot become a permanent option in Kellogg’s MBA program, envisions other benefits as well. “The students come back and they have information on the companies and VCs they worked with,” she says. “So they can help the groups of students going out next year. The faculty are meeting other people out there, too. Adam Pah, who teaches the Social Dynamics and Social Analytics course, met with Kellogg alumni at Salesforce and it was really well received. I think there is a whole piece in here for the faculty and building new partnerships that could be good for the school.”


Meantime, Achler, the visiting Kellogg lecturer, is delighted to have the San Francisco assignment. Years ago, in the mid-1980s, he worked at Apple in Cupertino. Startups and growth-stage companies are in his blood as managing director of MATH Venture Partners; for him, the San Francisco teaching gig amounts to a condensed series of six three-hour sessions over a couple of weeks.

Back home, he regularly teaches classes that boast long waiting lists of as many as 65 students. “The larger the class, the harder it is to have a deep conversation,” Achler says, “and the joy of the class is the dialogue.

“Besides,” he adds, “a greater percentage of our students want to be entrepreneurs, and having a beachhead here is really important.”

A trio of local venture capitalists came to a recent San Francisco class to talk with Kellogg MBA students. Photo by Stan Olszewski


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