By Maria Halpern
When we survey Wharton grads on their reasons for starting a business after b-school, the most common response is that they want to do something they are truly passionate about. It’s been exciting to see so many Wharton MBAs following their passion these days – we’ve already heard from over 40 graduates from the Class of 2012 who are starting ventures across a variety of industries including Healthcare, Energy, Retail, Consumer Products, and Technology. This represents about 5% of the graduating class (and to put that number into context… that means that more Wharton MBAs are becoming entrepreneurs than hedge fund managers).
Other trends we are seeing by way of entrepreneurial careers at Wharton include:
1. Wharton MBAs working at startups– Not only are students starting their own businesses, but they are also aggressively pursuing full-time and internship roles at startups. This year, over 60 Wharton MBAs are interning at startups (compared to 40 last year) and another 25 have accepted full-time positions at hot startups such as Etsy, Uber, Box, and inMobi. Many students are opting to work at VC-backed startups and while the most popular industry is Technology/Consumer Internet,
several students have landed exciting startup roles in Cleantech, Healthcare, Retail, and Media.
Nirav Shroff (WG’12) accepted a Mobile Business Development position at Cloud Computing startup Box. Miriam Raisner (WG’13) is interning at ZocDoc this summer, with a focus on Content Marketing.
2. Incubator/accelerator programs – We’ve seen more Wharton graduates and students gain acceptance to prestigious incubator and accelerator programs such as TechStars, Y-Combinator, DreamIt, and GoodCompanyVentures. In the past two years alone, over a dozen Wharton businesses were accepted to these highly competitive programs, which not only provide seed funding, but also introductions to potential investors and access to influential alumni networks. Many of the students accepted to these programs were also taking advantage of Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program, which provided a great launching pad for them to advance to this next step.
Omar Seyal (WG’11), is co-founder of a Y-Combinator-backed startup called tagstand, which raised $1.1MM in funding last year from notable angels including Yuri Milner, SV Angel, and Naval Ravikant.
3. Wharton alumni entrepreneurs hiring Wharton MBAs – Wharton alumni are playing a huge role in shaping the next wave of Wharton MBA entrepreneurs. Many alumni are hiring Wharton students to work for their companies upon graduation, over the summer, or during the school year. This is a trend that we hope will continue as more students come into Wharton with entrepreneurial aspirations.
Julie Lamba (WG’13), is leveraging her pre-MBA background in Education as a summer intern at General Assembly, a global network of campuses for entrepreneurs co-founded by Jake Schwartz (WG’08).
Jonathan Lyons (WG’11), recently accepted a business development position at an early-stage startup called Gridium, an energy analytic services firm, which was launched last year by Tom Arnold (WG’05) and Adam Stein (WG’05). Tom and Adam previously co-founded a company together called TerraPass.
Maria Halpern is Director, Student Engagement and Career Advisor for students interested in Entrepreneurship in Wharton’s MBA Career Management (MBACM) office. During her time at Wharton, she has implemented new ways to track student satisfaction with MBACM services and worked closely with Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs to provide more resources for students interested in pursuing entrepreneurial career paths. Maria graduated from Wharton’s undergraduate program with a dual concentration in Marketing and Management.