Focus On What Really Matters.
Chad Troutwine / Co-founder, Veritas Prep & Producer of the film Freakonomics
During my second year in the MBA program at Yale, I stood before a panel of judges at the largest student business plan competition in the world. After a year of planning one of my businesses, someone finally asked me the question I wish I had heard when I first started the process.
The previous year, I had won Yale’s competition and recruited my best friend and classmate Markus Moberg (SOM ’02) to partner with me at an event in New York City. One of the judges — serial entrepreneur and Green Mountain Coffee founder and CEO, Robert Stiller — asked me, “What’s your exit strategy?” I deftly clicked to the PowerPoint slide that included boilerplate language about competitor acquisitions and public offerings. Before I had a chance to speak, he said, “No, I mean your real exit strategy.” Without break- ing eye contact I responded, “Markus and I want our children to run this business one day.” Stiller smiled, jotted down some notes, and thanked us for our time. As a result of his question, I got the opportunity to see clearly what we wanted to achieve.
That night, our team won the competition, and I was selected as the Forbes Future Capitalist of the Year. Stiller knew this wasn’t some casual, quick ip business idea. We were willing to pour everything we had into building a foundation that would last for decades. From that moment forward, there was no question what would happen next. Markus and I devoted every waking moment to our business and launched it one month after our graduation from the School of Management. We turned down all investment offers and built a pure bootstrap company with no debt and no venture capital.
Starting with one college intern, Veritas Prep is now home to approximately 720 instructors, admissions consultants, and education experts in more than 100 global cities. e number of students who prefer live online prep (as opposed to physical, in-person prep) has accelerated rapidly. We don’t need as many instructors spread out all over the world because they can now reach students remotely. It’s fascinating, really. We can now have one of the best instructors in the world teach in San Francisco from a live online studio and reach 50 students based all over the globe. at was rare three years ago and impossible ten years ago.
The market and the technology will change multiple times while building your company, so it’s important to have the end goal in mind to keep you grounded and focused.
Read the advice from 100 other entrepreneurs here.
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