"Swing"-Ing Into Entrepreneurship


What do a software architect, a former professional golfer, and a product manager have in common? Typically, the answer would be "not much." However, at Chicago Booth, the answer is "an entrepreneurial spirit and the drive to succeed in a new professional venture."

Swingbyte, a real-time golf swing analyzer, was co-founded by three current Chicago Booth Evening MBA students - Alex Pedenko (the software architect), Brian Payne (the former professional golfer), and Nathan Wojtkiewicz (the product manager). Alex brought the idea for Swingbyte with him to Chicago Booth in 2010 and quickly teamed up with Brian to test a prototype (in fact, the two met on their first day of what we now call LAUNCH, your three-day introduction to Booth resources and Effective Leadership). Nathan was introduced to Alex and Brian via another Booth classmate and was soon brought on board to help further market and develop Swingbyte to get it market-ready.

Swingbyte, which weighs less than one ounce and is attached to the shaft of any golf club in your bag, uses Bluetooth technology to send data about your golf swing to your smartphone or tablet, including club head speed, swing plane, and impact angle. The trio entered Swingbyte into the New Venture Challenge business plan competition where they placed third. According to faculty who participate in the challenge by both teaching course material and judging the competition, it was both unique and inspiring to see a physical product in the competition, which is typically dominated by technology products or professional services. So far, Swingbyte has been both profitable and attractive to retailers, as evidenced by the fact that it is available for purchase both online and in over 1,300 AT&T stores nationwide.

One of Alex's main goals in attending Booth was to meet potential co-founders, where he knew he would meet like-minded professionals with the drive and intelligence to launch a successful new venture. In addition to the people, the coursework at Booth has been particularly beneficial to this group of entrepreneurs by helping them understand the process that both institutions and investors go through in evaluating a firm or business idea and training them how to speak to their financials and projections. The group has also been able to use Swingbyte as a class project in a number of hands-on experiential learning courses at Booth, which has afforded them the opportunity to practice their pitch to potential investors and fine-tune the value proposition of Swingbyte. Courses such as Commercializing Innovation,Financial Statement Analysis, and Entrepreneurial Selling, among others, have sharpened the professional tool-kits of the Swingbyte co-founders.

An MBA from Chicago Booth will provide you with the knowledge to feel confident in taking the next step of your career. Chicago Booth also provides you with access to world-class career resources and classmates, which will allow you to leverage your business acumen. Whether you are interested in working for a multi-national corporation, launching your own business, or something in between, Chicago Booth can help you get there!

Humberto Freda
Associate Director of Admissions