Why This Entrepreneur Came to Wharton

By Danny Hundert WG’16, Founder of Ajax Adventure Camp, WeAdmit, and CampRecruiter

“No learning allowed.”

This is one of my instructions to our camp staff every summer: “Accidental Learning Only.”

Danny Hundert W'16 at the Penn Wharton China Center opening.
Danny Hundert WG’16 at the Penn Wharton China Center opening.

One may ask why a person who preaches a no-learning philosophy would choose to attend Wharton – a place presumably branded as a higher education institution where learning is mandatory.  Summer camps are my passion.  I love the sense of community that we can create at summer camp and the resultant atmosphere that allows kids and staff members to be their true selves.  To really let loose, have fun, forget pre-conceived notions, and illuminate the ever-elusive path to self-discovery.

Since starting Ajax Adventure Camp 5 years ago, I have constantly been thinking about how to grow this community.  I have hundreds of ideas, all of them amazing, but I know execution is the key.  Given the unfortunate reality that we have a finite time to work on our entrepreneurial ventures (i.e. we will get old and die), I do not want to waste a moment of my time working on a flawed plan or idea that would not be impactful.  Thus, in order to execute on my ideas with the highest probability of success, I decided to invest 2 years of my time and a substantial portion of money to vacuum every piece of knowledge I could from the Wharton School (picture a high capacity industrial strength vacuum).

So as an entrepreneur, is it worth it?  Yes, but not necessarily for the reasons I expected. During my first semester on campus, I threw myself into my coursework, and I learned a ton. This second semester, in addition to my coursework, I’m working on building three separate businesses, in cooperation with classmates, professors, and class projects.

I don’t do “schoolwork”—I do entrepreneurial work. I find as many ways as possible to make my assignments apply directly to my ventures, turning all of my learning from theory into practice. Thus I have made attending Wharton while working on three businesses not only possible, but helpful.

Wharton has helped me think about startups in a more scientific and disciplined way.  It has helped me find teammates and employees.  It has also shown me why I think I can be successful in a rising tide of national entrepreneurial ambition.  However, there is a danger in business schools of losing perspective on one’s life and only focusing on making money.  A great fear of mine is being an incredibly wealthy 60 year old, and unhappy about how I spent my last 30 years.  The Wharton entrepreneurship advisors are very aware of this fact and I fully appreciate their increasing encouragement to follow my dreams, big and small, so I end up a very happy 60-year old entrepreneur.

Danny headshotBio: Danny Hundert WG ’16 has run a solar energy startup (P4P Energy), founded a 501(c)3 (World Pro Skiing Foundation), worked for a hedge fund owner (Axiom Investment Advisors), and founded an adventure summer camp for kids (Ajax Adventure Camp).  While growing his summer camp from 50 kids to over 500 in 4 years, Danny applied to Wharton in order to gain the skills and expertise necessary to quickly grow international businesses all related to kids, summer camps, and education.