Entrepreneurship at Booth: An Unexpected and Unconventional Adventure

By James Sharp, Class of 2019

James Sharp Entrepreneurship Headshot.jpg

I came to Booth to build a company. I’d been working on an idea for 6 months so, when classes started at Booth, I thought it’d be easy to go to class, learn new things from fascinating professors about operating a business, and apply them to my own company. Other than the learning new things part, that’s not how it worked, and that’s still not how it works today. This two-year path to test entrepreneurship and then do full-time recruiting as a second year has turned into a multi-year journey of uncertainty, doubt, exhilarating successes, rough failures, and more uncertainty. My path through my first year at Booth has been completely unlike anything I imagined - and I’m OK with that.

A lot of people come to business school with a particular goal in mind - become a consultant, join a tech company, vacation for two years on sponsorship. Mine was a little more ambiguous, but I had a goal nevertheless. I’d talked to former entrepreneurs from Booth (side note: if you’re pursuing entrepreneurship at Booth, talk to the alums, they’re amazing), planned on taking the core entrepreneurship classes, and had my eyes set on getting into the NVC in the Spring of my First Year. It turns out that having the goal of building a business was the easy part. Sticking to that goal, especially during the Fall Quarter, was far harder than I imagined.

Like most Booth students, I had my fair share of existential crises during the Fall. See, I had made up my mind I wouldn’t pursue an internship. I would, regardless of how the business was doing, push through the Summer and give this a real shot. That decision was easy in a vacuum. But every time a friend introduced me to someone they’d met through recruiting, or every time I missed class to take a sales meeting, I thought about how I was missing the “typical” Booth experience. The single hardest part of this journey has been realizing how much of the common experience I was foregoing to pursue this dream.

But there’s a reason I’m still focused on building my own company and OK with foregoing a lot of the common Booth experience (I’m even decelerating to spend more time with the company).  There’s a satisfaction and a pride from some of the moments in entrepreneurship that nothing could replace. I’ll never forget the day our team got accepted into the New Venture Challenge- a goal that I’d set a year ago and a moment our team had worked hundreds of hours for. And I’ll especially never forget looking up into the crowd at our first NVC presentation and seeing the proud faces of some of my closest Booth friends. Booth is a community that fosters and celebrates honest achievement. It’s a place where you can set a goal, have no idea how you’re going to get there, but know that every step along the way there will be people supporting you.