When Lindsay Stewart, WG’14, came to Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives, the ABC news producer was looking to transition into a strategy role in media. Her classmate, Brian McNeill, WG’14, was a senior manager at EY, with his eye on becoming a partner. Neither planned to launch a startup, but when they worked together on Lindsay’s idea for a class project, they discovered not only a shared deep interest in entrepreneurship, but also a commitment to turning that idea into a business.
The class assignment was to create an elevator pitch for a business idea. As a news producer, Lindsay knew first-hand of the need for more video footage for stories. “There was a gap in the content market, so I pitched the idea for a video platform company to fill that gap. Many people in the class joined my team, including Brian, whose feedback made the idea even better.”
When the class ended, Lindsay and Brian decided to continue working on the idea. Lindsay explained: “There are smart people in this program who want to build something from scratch and make an impact. We knew it would be smart to use Wharton as an incubator.”
The next steps included developing a minimal viable product, getting more feedback, and raising money from friends and family. As they started to gain traction, they also reached out to faculty. “Classmates helped us with everything from technical knowledge to sharing their own startup stories. We talked to faculty like Prof. Dave Reibstein about marketing, Prof. Richard Waterman about statistics, and Prof. Karl Ulrich about innovation,” said Lindsay, noting that Prof. Ulrich joined the venture as an advisor and investor.
Brian says there are three aspects of the EMBA program that helped them successfully develop their venture:
“We used everything from classes to build the business. For example, finance helped us model into the future and marketing helped us understand product offerings.”
“This program is like a litmus test for your accomplishments. It shows your work ethic and intelligence. Five years after graduation, investors take notice of this credential.”
“The network doesn’t go away when you graduate. It’s just as valuable today as it was when we were in school. People in this community reply to requests for feedback and help.”
After graduation, Lindsay and Brian launched Stringr. Today, Stringr is a video marketplace that supplies custom videos to major media companies. With 100,000 videographers in the U.S. and U.K., they plan to expand their services throughout Europe. They also work with brands and agencies to produce high-quality, on-demand videos.
The cofounders credit Wharton for opening up new career opportunities. “This program puts you in a mind-expansion mode and provides the opportunity to tap the expertise of classmates and professors just by coming to campus every other weekend. When it comes to the knowledge, network, and credentials we’ve gained, Wharton will pay our investment back many times over,” said Brian.
Lindsay agreed. “This is a great program to develop your ideas because you can benefit from your classmates’ experiences and expertise. This is a wonderful place to explore entrepreneurship.”
— Meghan Laska
Posted: November 19, 2019