By Mayuri Baheti, Danielle Matarasso, Class of 2019
Remember sitting in on sessions with Alumni during orientation and hearing them say how business school is the time to take risks? Well turns out, we may have taken that advice a bit too seriously. This summer, we gathered the courage to forego a traditional summer internship to start a company. It was an experience that far surpassed our expectations.
We met last fall in one of our favorite classes at Booth, Entrepreneurial Discovery and discovered a common passion for health and wellness. While interning at food-focussed venture capital firms, we saw an opportunity to create a food brand focused on providing affordable, tasty, nutrient-dense foods in places where such options were limited. We understood that this summer was the most risk-free time in our careers to start a company. So, with the support of the Polsky Accelerator, we embarked on our entrepreneurial journey.
Our focus for the summer was to use customer discovery to validate our hypothesis. However, we also delved deep into product development, created costing models, learnt first-hand the many supply chain challenges food startups face, and we experienced our first challenging negotiation.
By the end of the summer, we realized the learnings were far beyond what we likely would have gotten at any other company – big or small. Despite the ups and downs, the magic of being part of the Polsky Accelerator was that we were in the company of 13 other early stage businesses. Our cohort was there to bounce ideas off of, learn from, and provide encouragement when needed. Another key benefit of the accelerator were the mentors that held us accountable. They were available wherever and whenever we needed them - even weekends! (Thank you, Crissy Ritter, for being patient with us!) Starting your own company is extremely difficult, but on top of teaching us the hard skills, it taught us some important lessons that we want to share with you:
Starting your own company can be lonely. Having a co-founder who complements your skills sets, and who you can have open and honest conversations with is important.
Seeing your peers land internships early in the school year can be scary. Surrounding yourself with like-minded peers to hold you accountable can make all the difference.
Talking to customers while building your company is vital – no matter how much research you do, without talking to customers, you will never understand the true problem (thank you Professor Tebbe for teaching us that Day 1!).
There is no better time to start your own company than while at school. Regardless of whether you continue the venture full-time, the skills that you develop will be transferable to many different roles in the future. Check out Polsky, register for some entrepreneurship classes, and equally important, surround yourself with peers who share a similar curiosity for entrepreneurship and the startup world. And most important of all, always feel free to come talk with us. To our future Booth entrepreneurs out there, good luck and remember the incredible community you will have supporting you on your journey!
Mayuri & Danielle leveraged their tech and M&A backgrounds to kickstart Boss Bites, a nutrient-rich food product company.