Hometown: Glenview, IL (northern suburb of Chicago)
What brought you to Foster? Why did you choose the Evening MBA Program?
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. I never knew how to help contribute because I had no business acumen. Also, knowing the foundational business principals are key to the existence of human beings. When you buy stocks there is more to it than just P/E ratios, when diversifying your investments, there is a mathematical reason on why that lowers your risk, when evaluating a purchase of a condo, they give financial statements, what do these mean and how do I read them? I felt like there was this void that I wanted to help fill. I chose Foster because of the emphasis on collaboration. As an engineer, we can get silo-ed and I loved how much weight the Foster School of Business puts on collaboration. I chose the Evening MBA program so that I can work full time and apply the skills I learned the night before at work.
What is your favorite part of the program so far?
The students and professors. The students come from all sorts of industries that I had no idea even existed in Seattle. I love hearing about what other students do and learning from their experiences. Students have also supported me by teaching me concepts, making me get out of my comfort zone, and pushing me to new heights. The professors are genuinely here to help. They want to make sure that you not only learn the concept but that you also know how to apply the knowledge. I keep in touch with past professors and they help me when I have question about day to day items related to pricing a bond and valuation of startups.
You and your brother started your own company, “Waccal,” recently. Can you tell us about that?
We built Waccal due to the fragmented and chaotic workflows associated with private equity fundraising and investor relations. Waccal integrates the entire lifecycle together to efficiently raise capital and manage stakeholders for startups. The idea first came when my brother and I were trying to invest in startups and could not efficiently make a decision. Why is it so easy for us to buy shares in a public company, but horrendously difficult to buy shares from a private company? One platform says a startup has $1 million in funding and the other platform says that same startup has $5 trillion (yeah, that’s right) in funding. Yes, there are information asymmetries and risk factors involved, but we couldn’t even get access to accurate data to make decisions. When we dug into this deeper, from the startup point of view, they spend months pitching to hundreds of investors, a lot of whom are not a good fit. When they do get funding, especially in the early seed rounds, the individual investors don’t necessarily talk to each other so the founder is constantly reporting out. Shouldn’t the founder team be instead focused on building their startup? That’s where we knew something had to change and we went from looking for a startup to starting our own.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in launching Waccal?
Everything has been tough. We had to learn how to build software, manage a team of programmers, negotiate contracts, manage financials, figure out what marketing avenue to use, manage client relations, define what a minimum viable product looks like, etc. While this is the business side, we also must focus on our loved ones, and decide how to balance our time with them. There are also things we have had to give up, like going out with friends as often or enjoy the beautiful Seattle summers as much as we have in the past. But this challenge is the fun part: knowing how to make the best of every moment and celebrating the small wins.
How has the Foster Evening MBA Program helped you in your entrepreneurial endeavors?
Foster has helped lay the foundation for a lot of concepts that I have applied at Waccal, we just dive deeper in practice. There are also a lot of electives at Foster that focus on entrepreneurship from both the startup and investor side, which has been beneficial to us because we have both entrepreneurs and investors utilizing our site.
What advice do you have for those considering the Foster Evening MBA program?
Don’t consider it, just do it. There will never be the right time and you will always be busy. We are all busy. Dive into the deep end and enjoy all the success and failures that will come along the way. Those are both learning opportunities.
Wondering if the Foster Evening MBA Program is the right fit for you? To make an appointment with the Foster MBA Programs Office, call 206-543-4661 or toll free at 1-866-778-9622, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.