Bob is an entrepreneur who has built a successful software solution start-up. He was attracted to Booth because of the strength of the entrepreneurship faculty and the Polsky Center resources.
Bob explains how entrepreneurship professor Waverly Deutsch joined his company’s board of directors after he participated in the New Venture Challenge.
In my third quarter, I got to go through the New Venture Challenge (NVC), which was a great opportunity and I really learned a lot. It’s a business plan competition where students are looking to launch a brand new venture. A panel of faculty and alumni judges selects about 30 finalists that compete throughout an entire academic term. You have your business plan evaluated, pitch your company, and get feedback from real-life angel investors and venture capitalists as well as Booth entrepreneurship professors.
It’s really less about who wins the competition as it is about learning actually how to launch a business. I had already started my company, InContext Solutions, before I signed up for the NVC, but I was able to take it through the finals. We made many great connections in the venture and angel communities. After two and a half years, we have 43 employees and millions of dollars in revenue.
One of the reasons I selected Booth was that I wanted to go to a school where the part-time program had the exact same curriculum as the full-time program. Also, because I run my own company, I have a son, and I need to travel, a flexible program was very important to me. If I want a weekend course, great. If I want to go down to one class one particular semester, I can do that too. I can take a quarter off if I wanted to. If I had a meeting at night, I can go and make up the class on the Hyde Park campus. So, all those things really played into my experience here and just made it a lot easier to have a very full schedule, a very demanding job, a family, and then also get my MBA.
One of the big selling points of Booth is the faculty. It’s clearly one of the best faculties in the entire world for business—I mean, there are people here who have won MacArthur Foundation “genius grants” and Nobel prizes. These people are at the top of their game, and when they’re not teaching, they’re publishing research or they’re writing in the Economist or the Wall Street Journal.
There are times when I’ll leave class completely inspired by the professor I just heard. The professors are brilliant, and the students are that way too. I’ll hear someone talking in class and think, “Wow, this person is really on the ball.” There’s an intellectual energy here. I love the time I spend in class. I love it.
The Booth network is fantastic. This is a very deep, helpful community. Through Booth or through somebody that I met through Booth, I’ve made important contacts just about everywhere.
For example, after my company made it to the finals in the New Venture Challenge business competition, one of the judges said, “What you’re doing is really interesting. I know another company that is looking at doing some similar things. I’ve got somebody there you might be interested in talking to.” I didn’t realize the level of the person he was talking about at the time, but it turned out to be the cofounder and CTO of a major company. It was amazing. I never would have gotten that introduction without the Booth connection.”