London School of Economics
Graduate School and Degree: Masters in Management at the London School of Economics’ Department of Management
Hometown: Lubbock, Texas (originally from) / Nashville, Tennessee (currently live in)
Fun Fact About Yourself: Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to raise money for an incredible organization and fight in my first amateur boxing match in front of a wild crowd of 500+ spectators. We trained intensely for the match for five months and, despite not coming out with the victory, I wouldn’t trade one second of it!
Undergraduate School and Major / Degree programme: The University of Texas at Austin, BSc in Civil Engineering
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your life so far: Honestly, I think my biggest accomplishment so far is not quitting. One of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur is having to continue to charge ahead when no one else cares and nothing is working. Ask me again when I’ve sold my first company!
Was Entrepreneurship always your career goal? No – for me it was something that just happened. During graduate school, I was taking a lot of classes and leading consulting projects that gave me a chance to look at alternative business models. In addition to the course work, I was interning with a venture capital firm that operated in the impact investment space and I was meeting a lot of incredible people who were on their own entrepreneurial journeys. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have become an entrepreneur if I didn’t have these experiences, but they certainly acted as catalysts.
What led you to pursue a MiM at that point in your personal development? I’d always known that I’d wanted to pursue a master’s degree in a field outside of STEM and I was getting to the point in my career where the time was right. I had been working as a consultant (my first job after my undergraduate degree) for a couple of years and I was ready to explore something new, but not entirely sure what that was. A full-time, two-year grad school program felt like the best way to do that for me.
How did you decide if a MiM was worth the investment? Honestly, for me it was less of a cost-benefit analysis and more of a projected return on life-experience analysis, if that makes sense. I had ideas of careers that I wanted to explore, but no idea where I was going to actually end up. Being unable to predict the outcome, I realized that what I really wanted was to surround myself with incredibly smart people and give myself the best chance to take advantages of opportunities when they came my way. When I thought about it from this lens, the LSE Department of Management checked all of the boxes.
What other MiM programs did you apply to? How did you determine your fit at various schools? None. At the time, the LSE Department of Management was the only two-year MiM program that I thought would give me the experience that I wanted. I did apply to a couple of MBA programs in the US and, with all of the schools that I applied to that were top of mind for consideration, I spoke with previous alumni and visited the campuses to see if I could see myself there.
What was the key factor that led you to choose this Masters in Management and why was it so important to you? Hmmm that’s a hard one. I guess if I had to boil it down to one word, I’d say opportunity. The MiM at the LSE Department of Management seemed like a good fit for what I was looking for – the program is hosted at a world class institution in one of the most globally relevant cities and is made up of an incredibly diverse group of individuals from around the globe.
Tell me about your venture: Over the past decade, social media, content distributors, and creator-focused startups have radically changed how creators build careers. Tens of millions of musicians, podcasters, YouTubers, live streamers, and influencers are spending countless hours and dollars working to turn their passions into complex livelihoods, yet business management technology hasn’t kept up. Creators are being consumed by data and overwhelmed by manual administrative processes.
In response, RootNote (the company that I co-founded with my brother) is building business management tools for digital content creators. We offer a freemium subscription SaaS product that aggregates user social, performance, and revenue data and provides customers with action-oriented tools to take care of the time-consuming day-to-day activities of building a brand around digital content.
How has your business school experience helped you in creating and launching your business? The MiM program at the LSE Department of Management really inspires you to think critically (about everything). The reality of startups is that they are highly unpredictable and there is no case study that will lead you to success. Sure, there are programs like Y Combinator and Techstars that can help cover the basics, but everyone faces a unique journey. We’re constantly running into our own challenges and hurdles and critical thinking is a huge part to overcoming them.
From a more practical standpoint, I used my dissertation as the backbone of research for launching my venture and the LSE literally helped fund some of the startup costs of our company through the LSE Generate funding competition. Outside of that, LSE Generate has continued to be an integral part in our continued success through alumni opportunities and startup networking treks.
What activities/experiences have most benefitted you on your entrepreneurship journey during your time at business school? Learning how to turn feedback from customers into actionable results was critical. In the context of business school, your customers are professors, pro-bono consulting clients, and corporate partners and your relationship with them is such that it’s ok to learn and get feedback from them during projects. Contrast that to the professional world where you’re charging a client a hefty fee to use your expertise to solve all of their problems in a short amount of time. As you’ve experienced personally (or can imagine), this scenario does not provide a lot of opportunity to learn from mistakes during the process. Entrepreneurship requires ongoing conversations with customers and many mistakes. Taking the time to learn from your customers at business school can go a long way in preparing you to listen to your real-world customers.
What quality best describes the MiM classmates you met while studying? Everyone has an interesting story and comes to the program with a curiosity that makes it easy to make friends and learn from one another.
What is the biggest/most important lesson you learnt during your studies? Learn from failure. Quite literally, I remember failing my very first practice assignment. Coming from an engineering and consulting background, I was decent at the quants and practical stuff (PowerPoint and Excel), but had never written a proper analytical review of multiple academic papers and I failed miserably. Fortunately, the practice assignment was to help prepare us for what was to come and didn’t count towards my final grade, but it certainly opened my eyes. I learned how to write academic arguments and, fast forward a couple of years later, I was presenting my dissertation at the International Music Business Research Association’s annual conference in Vienna.
What are the next steps for you / your entrepreneurial venture? We recently closed a small pre-seed investment round and launched a public beta of our tech platform. We’re in the process of running a pilot program with our first paid customers and will launch a seed investment round in the months ahead.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully, with millions of satisfied paying customers and hundreds of happy and fulfilled employees!