Student-Founders: ‘Retail Nerd’ Explains Why An MBA Was The Right Decision For Her Startup

Your Crewneck Sweater from Pareto

When did you start thinking about an MBA?

I applied to Stanford GSB’s deferred admit program when I was a senior in college. 

So I knew I was accepted to GSB, and I knew that if I did go to business school, there was no other place I would want to go. But, throughout the last four years, I have really been wondering if business school was the right choice. I clearly wasn’t looking to pivot industries, I love the retail space, and so I really grappled with whether business school was the right choice. Ultimately the final push really came down to timing. Over the past year and a half, we’ve built a really strong foundation for the business, and we’re at the stage now where we’re ready to accelerate our growth trajectory. My co-founder and I believe that attending GSB is the perfect way to do that. 

There’s a few specific things that I’m super excited to leverage over the next few years. One, I think business school is just a sandbox of resources  that we’re able to leverage in real time. Being a year and a half into the business, we have tactical questions that come up every day. In between faculty and classmates and alumni, the proximity and speed in which we can connect with an expert on any topic is super valuable.

Second, it’s an invaluable mechanism to think about things differently. As a team of two, my co-founder and I have really been heads down building the past year, which has been great and we’ve made so much progress, but all the experiences that comes with an MBA is like a forced break in our system. It forces us to take a step back and push our thinking in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Finally, we believe data-driven decisions in tech-enabled customer experiences are the future of retail, and we have a really exciting data and tech roadmap for Pareto. There’s no better place than Stanford to be immersed in the technology ecosystem. With the timing of where we were with the business, I was able to really articulate what I would get out of an MBA.

Where else did you apply, and where else were you accepted?

I only applied to GSB. I knew that if I was to get an MBA, GSB was the place I wanted to do it. The question in my mind was more, ‘Do I want to get an MBA?’ Where to get an MBA was always very easy, and so I only applied to GSB. The past four weeks have only been reassuring and has reinforced that this place is exactly where I belong.

How have you juggled business school and running a business?

Your Field Jacket from Pareto

Well, we are only four weeks in, including orientation, so I will not say that I’ve mastered it.  It is a lot. It’s balancing schoolwork, it’s balancing business, it’s balancing social commitments, it’s balancing other professional experiences. Going into it,  I knew that what I had to do was ruthlessly prioritize. I’m definitely getting better, but I started on day one with being extremely deliberate in what I was going to spend my time on. I make sure there is a reason why I am doing something or going to an event. As long as I can articulate that reason then, it’s valid. 

What advice would you offer other entrepreneurs grappling with student-founder dilemma?

I don’t think there’s any one way to do it,  and that is really important to realize and acknowledge. You can start something before business school and go into business school with your fully-funded business. You can start something in business school. You can find a co-founder at business school. You can start something after business school.

There’s so many ways to do it, and they’re all equally great. It really is just finding what works best for you. Have as many conversations with different people that have gone different paths as you can, but realize that it’s not necessarily advice, it’s just things that have worked well for them.  Take all those data points and combine them with what you’re looking for and what you value and prioritize, and realize that you’re going to chart your own path.

What’s next for Pareto?

We have three pieces on the market currently: Your Perfect T-shirt Dress, Crewneck Sweater, and Tank Top. We actually just launched last week our fourth wardrobe addition, Your Perfect Field Jacket. Over the past year, we’ve really proven product market fit, established a really strong supply chain partner network, and are feeling really confident in some early indicators of success. Around loyalty, 30% of our customers have made two-plus orders, and around product satisfaction, we have a post purchase product rating of 9 out of 10. So really what’s next is we’re excited to pour gas on the fire and grow. We’ve been all about building a foundation that is scalable, and now we’re ready to scale this thing.

Are you a student-founder? Poets&Quants is interested in talking with you about balancing the demands of pursuing an MBA and running a new business. Email your story to


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