Tuck | Mr. Assistant Manager
GRE 328, GPA 2.9
NYU Stern | Mr. Development
GMAT 690, GPA 2.5
Harvard | Mr. The Builder
GMAT 740, GPA 4.0
Wharton | Mr. Steelmaker To Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.04/4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Two Job
GRE 330 GRE, GPA 3.63
Chicago Booth | Mr. High GRE Low GPA
GRE 332, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Gay Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Analyst To Family Business Owner
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.85
Chicago Booth | Mr. Overrepresented Indian Engineer
GMAT 740, GPA 8.78/10
Tuck | Mr. Infantry Officer To MBA
GRE 314, GPA 3.4
Darden | Mr. Program Manager
GRE 324, GPA 3.74
Tuck | Mr. Smart Cities
GRE 325, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Biz Human Rights
GRE 710, GPA 8/10
Harvard | Mr. Food Tech Start Ups
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. International Oil
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Consulting To Emerging Markets Banking
GRE 130, GPA 3.6 equivalent
Harvard | Mr. Comeback Kid
GMAT 770, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Greek Taverna
GMAT 730, GPA 7.03/10
Harvard | Ms. Biotech Ops
GMAT 770, GPA 3.53
Chicago Booth | Mr. Energy Operations
GRE 330, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 To Healthcare Reformer
GRE 338, GPA 4.0 (1st Class Honours - UK - Deans List)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Indian Quant
GMAT 745, GPA 9.6 out of 10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Food & Education Entrepreneur
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Lieutenant To Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Duke Fuqua | Mr. IB Back Office To Front Office/Consulting
GMAT 640, GPA 2.8
Rice Business | Mr. Future Energy Consultant
GRE Received a GRE Waiver, GPA 3.3

MBA Startups: A Yale MBA Wants To Call His Own Shots

Dan Wolchonok

PrepWork was built for busy people who typically take a lot of meetings. Professionals such as journalists, consultants, sales people, and business development executives are all part of my target market. These people place the highest premium on creating and nurturing authentic relationships with their customers and colleagues.

People want to know that you are aware of interesting things they have been involved in or accomplished. They want you to know what is important to them; and when you do, they completely open up.

I’m currently in the process of recruiting and building a team.  I have a minimum viable beta at http://www.prepwork.com while I am working to create additional features and functionality. Since my beta version is live, however, I now can devote more of my time to non-technical aspects of my business such as marketing and business development.

Earlier on, I was heavily focused on the product, market research and code development—which I wrote all by myself. In this type of business it is imperative that one be tied to the actual technology—either from writing the code or at least being very familiar with what it does. If you set up the proper feedback loops, you’ll be learning new things from your customers at lightning speed; and it will be important to remain agile so that you can quickly make changes when needed.

When it came to funding, I was fortunate in that the YEI gives you both a grant for your company and a personal grant for your living expenses. The funding that I got from Yale was sufficient for me to get my business off the ground in its initial stages. Another thing about Yale’s Entrepreneurial Institute is that they do not take any of the equity in your business for themselves, unlike most of the well-known incubator programs out there. I also got free office space and was paired with several mentors from the Yale network.

YEI assigned me four mentors. One of them recently took his company public on the New York Stock Exchange, and another closed his series B financing over the summer, raising $8 million in the round. The curriculum of the YEI in based largely around Lean Startup methodology. It was there that I learned to talk with customers early on, to validate my idea, and to speak freely about the solution that I was looking to develop.

Another big benefit that I got out of the YEI’s incubator was free legal services from Yale lawyers. One of the services that I appreciated most was the training and consulting that I received about partnership agreements. Everything from how to structure the agreement, to splitting up equity, to exit and succession planning and formulating a vesting schedule for equity was a part of that training—all for free.

Free accounting and marketing services are also a part of the program, along with a free breakfast and lunch provided daily. We also went on VC treks to both New York and Boston. Honestly, I have not heard of a more supportive incubator program. The program is open to all Yale students—both grad and undergrad from all Yale schools. There is a 20% acceptance rate and 10 new teams are chosen each term. I was honored to be selected. It was an extremely competitive field made up of many of Yale’s best and brightest, including a Rhodes Scholar, who was selected in my class.

Entrepreneurship on campus is really growing. There’s a lot of buzz among students and a lot of support for start-ups at SOM. It’s a golden age for Web entrepreneurs.

Most people who are considering entrepreneurship after business school are concerned about their ability to pay back loans. When you think about the salary you’re forgoing for two years, tuition, fees and living expenses, it can be a tough pill to swallow.  Just attending business school in and of itself is a huge financial decision and risk. Then entrepreneurship is inherently risky in addition to that. It’s really not for everyone, and I do believe that the vast majority of business students won’t be willing to take this on, and probably shouldn’t. It takes a certain breed to do this. I’m just happy to be working on a great problem and making an impact.

Contrary to popular belief, however, the entrepreneurial realm does not necessarily have to be ultra-risky.  Many MBA students overlook startups as ways to make great salaries. A well-funded early stage company can provide great opportunities both for income and taking on tons of responsibility in a fast-growing environment.

If you truly want to be in a smaller organization and can tolerate the risk, then my advice would be to strongly consider a startup, even if you’re not its founder. There are a good number of well-supported startups these days that provide viable career alternatives to large companies. In these businesses, you won’t have to be pigeonholed into a narrow specialty like you may in a larger outfit. And if the startup goes well and you were one of its early employees, well, you could be in for quite a ride!

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned in all of this is that it’s all about the network.  I would not have come this far without my network from Yale—the alums, my classmates, et al. The role that a network plays is critical for someone looking for a job; it’s life and death for someone starting a company.

If I could leave one piece of advice for those who will follow me, it would be to talk about your idea. Oftentimes, we are taught that if we tell others what we are doing, someone else will “take” it and run with it. People are concerned with someone stealing their idea when what they really need to be concerned with is people not even caring about their idea. Get all the feedback you can about your idea just to make sure that it is viable. It’s not worth the hassle to try and keep it a secret. No idea is original, and in the end success is all about execution.

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MBA Startups: A Fast Track To Entrepreneurship at Cornell

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