I've been working on the second leg of my bike tour information site, specifically a section for reviews of bike tour operators. I've gotten it up and now we're working on some reviews. We have a bunch for companies like DuVine and Meridien Ten. Check it out if you have the chance, I'd love your feedback.
I'm applying some of the principles in education to a new adventure travel network I'm launching. The first of these sites is devoted to reviews and information on bike tours. The site is called Bike Tour Buzz. Check it out. This is an example of where something that was purely pleasure turned into a business idea.
One of the big partners that helped us get the site launched was the company Scripted, of which my Sloan colleague Ryan Buckley is a Founder. They'sve supplied a lot of great writers to us to seed the Bike Tour Buzz site, as well as help us with inbound for EMT Exam Ace.
Ryan and I worked together a fair amount at Sloan, including going to India together. Scripted's model fits well with my personal model of outsourcing a lot to good outside vendors who supply some management and QA on top of raw coding or content development. It's been pretty interesting to watch Scripted's business model, which started as SaaS screenwriting software. I remember pitching one of my (long dead) business ideas the same day Ryan. Now they're a funded company in a virtually entirely different space. Talk about a pivot.
Recently answered some MIT Sloan questions so thought I'd shared here as well:
1) What do you think differentiates MIT from other business schools (based on feedback from friends at other schools and your knowledge of other programs)?
Big difference to me - tech and entrepreneurship focus. I think you'll get that at Stanford as well. But MIT is the best b-school to get a lot of exposure to it and network across non-MBA disciplines. I think the MBA class is also a bit more technical/engineering which I view as a good thing.
2) One benefit of Sloan is clearly access to the world-class engineering and science programs / students / faculty at MIT - did you find that you utilized other areas of MIT during your time at Sloan?
Lots. I think it's better to have a diverse network than one that's just MBAs. There are a lot of opportunities to get around, mixers, etc, especially around the 100K, where you really need a multidisciplinary team to succeed. I played rugby as well which is like 5 MBAs and 45 guys from the rest of the school and a lot of those folks were my closest friends. There are other cross university activities that are mixed, which you don't see at other MBA programs.
3) Looking back on the program, what would you say provided the most value in your career - MIT's global name recognition, the people you were able to connect with, or the material you learned in the classes?
People were great. Material was really excellent. But really, I was in E&I and it gave me a hard boot to start something. That's really how I ended up Upward Mobility (I started in 2nd year at Sloan).
4) Which international opportunities did you participate in at Sloan and how helpful were they in your career.
I love to travel and work and maybe went over the top with it. I did China Lab, India Lab, D-Lab Africa (Tanzania), NextLab (Philippines)...also was in the CLOP program (Montreal/Ottawa) and MIT paid for me to go London. Can't beat what they offer. The projects were good and helped get me get perspective and learn some industries I don't normally work in...I wouldn't say they were massively helpful in my career but that might have been by choice as I was trying to get exposure to different things.
5) What did you think of the Core program? Did you find it helpful in forming relationships early in your experience at Sloan?
My whole core team was at my wedding and one of my core team members was a groomsman. We're all really close. Core is fine, some people find it hard and overwhelming. I didn't find it all that tough, but I think Swatties are used to a bit more. I did find it useful, as I felt it filled in a bunch of whole or refreshed a lot I hadn't used in accounting, finance and econ. The hardest part to me really was scheduling and team work because everyone is so busy, but all it all worked out great.
One mission of mine has been to be a part of the movement democratizing learning. While I can't say we are doing something on the scale of Khan Academy, our free exam prep website PracticeQuiz.com is doing quite well.
I decided to go with an ad supported model, and this month we're on a pace that would generate around 3.5M ad impressions a year, without being too intrusive into the simulated exam experience.
I've learned a lot about educational content in the last couple years running Upward Mobility and where some sources of quality free content is one of them. I've compiled some medical, technical, professional/business, and academic type exam.
One of Upward Mobility's goal is to provide exam prep and study materials for those who can't afford to pay for it for free, hence the creation of PracticeQuiz.
I'm featured as part of the MIT E-Center's 30 in 30, 30 second tidbits of entrepreneurial advice/inspiration that my friend Justin Adelson is putting together.
To summarize, Upward Mobility is my bootstrapped baby. It was an ugly baby, the type no VC would ever fund, and no credible entrepreneur would probably even try to take to one. But I believed in the business model and the economics I'd worked out, enough to bet on it. And it has worked out really well. Not being beholden to anyone lets me operate the way I like to operate...that is, do lots of consulting, create software products, and travel...
Here's the vid: (Yes, my office is kind of messy, but it has a lot of fun toys.)
Like a poker player building a stack a chips, it's good to play from a position of strength. We're getting there these days, with Upward Mobility generating cash flow.
Post MIT, I'm doing a few interesting things
Continuing to grow Upward Mobility - not a big company, but doing nicely and receiving a lot of nice notes from folks about how it's helped them with their study for tough exams
Building a really innovative tablet learning platform with great graphics that I think can be top 5 in the iPhone app store
Launching a health care web-training course that I think will be very successful
Still consulting for CSMG - just did a project in Australia the past few months which is great. So many places in the world to see, good to see some on someone else's dime. I'll be on campus supporting with fall recruiting.
Working with a friend on a search fund, and now that it's been raised, looking for a company from $5 million to $50 million to buy (know of any?)
Just finished the Pan-Mass Challenge - an incredible bike ride across MA (I went from Wellesley to Provincetown) for cancer that should be a MBA case study of its own for the amazing operations management
Off to Galapagos and Amazon on a much needed vacation tomorrow!