Name: Mitch Kirby
Company: TransparentCareer, revealing the statistics and data behind MBA salaries
MBA program: Booth
Did you arrive at school with a specific business idea? I arrived at school with one business idea, but ultimately ended up pursuing another. Before school, I worked predominantly in health care and my idea was an algorithm and platform for calculating physician payments based on their performance. It is very difficult to get a venture off the ground in health care and so it ended up fizzling.
How did the business come about? Fast-forward a year and I had a small idea for allowing MBAs to share their job offer information anonymously. I was recruiting at a company where I knew Boothies had worked in the past and was frustrated that this data was not made available to me. I started to build this out and launched an MVP and it just took off and TransparentCareer was born. I realized there was a much bigger pain point in the ability to access reliable compensation information and so I pursued it further.
What was it like to start a business while in school? Insane. I launched the business in January of my second year and since then everything else became secondary. I focused a lot less on my classes and on my social life. I expected to spend spring of my second year golfing and traveling with friends, instead I was working all day and night trying to make the business a success. On the other hand, launching a business while pursuing an MBA is great because the support structure and resources made available are amazing. Through Booth’s Polsky Center and the New Venture Challenge we were able to get the business off the ground incredibly rapidly.
Did you ever contemplate leaving school? No, because I started the business so late in business school. On the other hand, my co-founder Kevin is decelerating from school. Which means he is just taking 1 class per week and focusing on the business the rest of the time.
Would you make the same decision (to attend school) again? Why? Absolutely. Everyone always likes to ask whether business school was worth it. It always feels like they are asking whether I think there was a financial ROI on my investment. That question I cannot answer for certain, but it was most definitely an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I made some of my closest friends, learned a ton, and ultimately got to pursue starting a business I was passionate about all with the support of the school. For me, I would choose to attend business school 100 times out of 100.
What did you learn in school that impacted your business? Surprisingly, how to code. I took a class at Booth called “Application Development” where we actually learned how to develop web applications using ruby on rails. This enabled me to take my idea and actually make it a reality. Business school was great to understand strategy, operations, and finance, but being able to combine that knowledge with a tangible skill really enabled the business to thrive.
What does the future hold? We will be continuing to pursue TransparentCareer and helping MBAs to make more informed career decisions. After that we want to build out the platform for other careers in hopes of one day enabling everyone to understand their fair pay and how their career decisions impact their entire professional future.
What are your big upcoming milestones for 2016? We want to have nearly every MBA on the platform by the end of 2016 and have launched our portals for business undergrads, prospective MBAs, and MBA alumni.
What tools and resources have been most helpful to you that you’d recommend to other aspiring entrepreneurs? The book “Venture Deals” is pretty much the bible on understanding term sheets. Its really good to understand how the other side of the table (VCs) thinks about things. Also, the “How to Start a Startup” class by Sam Altman is pretty invaluable, it can be found here: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/.