2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Kevin Long, University of Texas (McCombs)

Kevin Long

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Strategic Thinker. Problem Solver. Deal Maker.”

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Fun fact about yourself: When I was 19, my brother and I backpacked through Central America for six weeks. We spent less than $500 by staying for free at people’s homes that we met on CouchSurfing.com.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Miami University, Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was a Lead Strategy Consultant on Target’s Business Partnerships & Negotiations team

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Outmore Living, Austin, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Outmore Living, Co-Founder & CEO

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President, Graduate Entrepreneurship Society
  • Co-Vice President of Placement, Venture Fellows, Internship: Mucker Capital
  • Katie May Endowed Excellence Award
  • Named Herb Kelleher Entrepreneurship Scholar
  • Named Texas Champion at Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition
  • Winner of Deloitte – Texas McCombs MBA Case Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?
Being elected as Co-President of the Graduate Entrepreneurship Society (GES) was one of my biggest highlights during my time in business school. I had the opportunity to work alongside my Co-President, Sean LaFlam, as well as the rest of the GES leadership team to plan bi-weekly club meetings, schedule incredible speakers, and create a community of entrepreneurial students. We inherited an incredible organization from GES’ previous leadership team. However, what made me proudest was that we doubled the organization’s membership and participation by promoting GES not just as a club for entrepreneurs, but instead as a more inclusive place where anyone who wants to grow their entrepreneurial skillset and network could find a home.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At the end of my first semester in business school, I founded Outmore Living, a consumer tech company focused on changing outdoor living. I had always dreamt of founding a company, however, until I started Outmore, I didn’t realize how hard starting something from nothing would be. As I look back on the past year, there were many highlights: bringing on my co-founder Alex, building our prototype in my garage, being accepted into SEAL accelerator, and raising our first outside capital from an angel investor. However, behind the scenes, there were as many lows as highs, which is why winning the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition (TVLIC) and being named Texas Champion was my proudest professional achievement.  TVLIC occurs once a semester and features approximately twenty of the most promising startups across UT’s campus.  What stands this achievement apart from others is that it was the third time we competed, and it was the first time we even made it to the finals.  To me, there is no better feeling than being recognized for your perseverance after previously coming up short on your goals.

Why did you choose this business school? I always wanted to start a company. However, I felt like I lacked the necessary skillset, resources, and network to successfully do so. After talking with several successful entrepreneurs, I realized that the right MBA could help fill the gaps in my entrepreneurial skillset and network that I was looking for while also providing unimaginable resources to help scale my future venture.

As I started looking into MBA programs that fit my entrepreneurship-focused criteria, few programs compared to McCombs. McCombs continuously ranks as a top-10 entrepreneurship program and UT has arguably more resources available than any other school in the country. Working for a year in VC through Venture Fellows, spending my summer in UT’s SEAL accelerator, accessing 3-D printing Labs, and bouncing ideas off world-class professors and students who are always willing to help are just a few examples of how McCombs has made my MBA experience incomparable. As a huge plus, Austin, Texas is one of the fastest-growing entrepreneurship hotspots in the country and serves as the perfect ecosystem to launch a startup.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Financial Statement Analysis (FSA) with Professor Patrick Badolato is incredible! On paper, I could see how the course could be perceived as not the most interesting, however, Professor Badolato does an incredible job showing that examining 10-Ks, 8-Ks, and S-1s can be both insightful and interesting.  Few classes have taught me more and had as great of an impact on me as FSA.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I always loved attending football tailgates and games.  While the team has not been the best while I have been in school, the atmosphere on UT gameday is electric! For Saturday home games, McCombs would always host a tailgate with food and drinks for students and guests.  It was always a great time to connect with classmates and celebrate UT football. Hopefully next year the team will be as good as the tailgates.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? There are so many amazing opportunities during an MBA that it is easy to over-commit. Looking back, I would have tried to stay more focused on committing to organizations and projects that aligned with my focus and passions, which were entrepreneurship and venture capital.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Starting my MBA, I think there was a perception that it would be very competitive and cutthroat. In reality, McCombs is one of the most collaborative and supportive environments I have ever been a part of. People are always rooting for each other and helping one another reach their goals.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Austin has an amazing culture, nightlife, and food scene. However, what I love most about Austin is the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Every day there is an entrepreneurial event, and the people are incredibly welcoming.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised by the number of lifelong friends I have made at McCombs. I started my MBA looking to build a skillset and network to accelerate my career goals, but I was surprised to build as many lasting friendships with my peers and professors.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I reached out to students who attended the schools I was interested in. Not only did it help me better understand the MBA experience, but it also led to connections that led to referrals during the application process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Calvin Hines is one of the smartest and nicest people I have met at McCombs. When you have a class with Calvin, you will not only be entertained by his quick and witty remarks, but you will also learn so much from his profound wisdom and unique life experiences. Outside of class, Calvin is one of the most helpful people and is always willing to offer any of his time and resources to his peers. I have a lot of admiration for Calvin’s humility, wisdom, and kindness.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? In the short term, my goal is to build an incredible company and team at Outmore Living. Co-founding Outmore has already been the most rewarding professional experience I have ever had, and I hope to create a culture that others want to join and achieve their own professional goals through.

In the long term, I would love to return to McCombs as a professor.  I have always loved learning from my incredible professors and peers, and I believe that becoming a professor would be one of the most fulfilling careers I could pursue. There have been many professors at McCombs that have helped shape and accelerate my own company, and it would be great to offer similar mentorship to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

What made Kevin such an invaluable member of the Class of 2023?

“We often use the analogy of a test kitchen when sharing the vast array of resources and customizable experiences that a FT MBA at Texas McCombs affords.  Kevin Long has used every ingredient/resource with intention and purpose.  When he came to business school, he was vetting a few business ideas.  He incubated one, born out of his experience in outdoor furniture at Target, in our New Venture Creation class. He entered his start up, Outmore Living, in our semi-annual Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition (TVLIC) in his first year. While he didn’t make the finals, he made great connections (like his co-founder), got impactful feedback, and a Golden Ticket to attend our SEAL program.

Over the summer, Kevin participated in the SEAL program (Student Entrepreneur Acceleration and Launch) at our Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas at Austin, with support from our Endowed Entrepreneurship Summer Fellowship Fund, created and gifted by the Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2014.

This year, Kevin competed in and won the Texas Venture Lab Investment Competition (TVLIC) and was named Texas Champion, winning $15000 and office space for one year post graduation in our Jon Brumley Accelerator space on the 5th floor of Rowling Hall. He is in negotiations with investors and working on manufacturing their first round of products.

John Doggett, who teaches our Opportunity Identification class, highlights Kevin as “one of those rare students who are both driven and humble. He has a vision for his startup that is unstoppable, but he is also a sponge for new ideas and advice.  Kevin does what he says he is going to do with determination.  And he interacts with those around him with respect and grace. I have taught at McCombs since 1989.  Kevin Long is one of the best students I have ever had. Learning is in his blood.”

For his persistence, his willingness to iterate, develop and improve, as well as his entrepreneurial savvy, we would like to nominate Kevin Long for this year’s Best and Brightest.  We have four words that describe our Texas McCombs MBAs: Enterprising, Tenacious, Curious and Authentic.  I can’t think of a better way to describe Kevin Long.  We look forward to following his journey.”

Tina Mabley
Assistant Dean


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.