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Winning First Place at Startup Incenerator
Winning First Place at Startup Incenerator

There is no doubt that entrepreneurship is thriving at Kellogg. With the addition of Linda Darragh as the executive director of the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative (KIEI), there have been sweeping changes to the programming and curriculum that are paving the way for students and alumni who aspire to start their own businesses. In my first year of the 2Y MBA program, I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat to these changes and develop a story that is a testament to how Kellogg is turning innovative thinkers into successful practitioners.

I joined Kellogg knowing I wanted to spend time working on a new venture. Leading into the fall, I had been working on an education technology tool to help licensed professionals (CPAs, nurses, lawyers, etc.) manage continuing education requirements called License Buddy. In October of 2012, after seeing a flyer in Jacobs, I signed up for Startup Incinerator, a business plan competition that was organized by the professors who run the NUvention Web incubator course. The competition started out with over 90 individuals/teams pitching their ideas, and through the series of elimination rounds over the weekend, we ended up placing first in the competition, which secured us (along with HAAM Lock) a spot in the NUvention course.

During the last two quarters , we worked on the product, following the Lean Startup principals championed by Steve Blank. Presenting weekly updates and getting feedback from an impressive set of faculty, mentors and venture capitalists accelerated our development in a way we would never have been able to do on our own. That combined with the Entrepreneurial Selling, Entrepreneurial Tools for Digital Marketing, The Entrepreneurial Firm: Building the Winning Team, Business Law for Entrepreneurs and Startup Programming and Management courses Kellogg has pioneered, along with the programming put on by the Kellogg Entrepreneurs Organization (KEO) and the eClub, I feel more prepared and confident as an entrepreneur than I could have imagined. Not only was our team runner-up in the NUVC pitch competition at Northwestern, we also headed to NYC to kick off the Dreamit Ventures summer accelerator program, which was an exciting ride.

Kellogg has provided me with a foundation I sincerely feel I would not have gotten anywhere else. Entrepreneurship can be a daunting and lonely path, but there is no better time and place to do it than at Kellogg. If you are lost, you have unparalleled resources to keep you on track. If you are discouraged, you have one of the greatest academic communities to support you. And when you find something that works, there is an entire community of over 50,000 Kellogg students, alumni and faculty to celebrate your successes and help push you along.

Kellogg is truly a special place, and I consistently feel humbled to be a part of it. So, whether you are a prospective student, current student or alum, what are you waiting for? It is time to get started!

Jeremy O’Briant (@jobriant) is a second-year student in the full-time MBA program at the Kellogg School of Management.