The COO of Box.com, Dan Levin burst out of a swirling, bright yellow, adult-sized tube slide, and the room full of Wharton MBA students exploded in surprise. The excitable executive then herded all of us through the doors of a cavernous cafeteria. “Why don’t you help yourselves to pizza, drinks or ice cream,” he said as we walked past a statue of a unicorn. “Let me tell you something about Box,” Dan announced as we gaped at the life-sized cutout of Captain Kirk, “our motto is GSD, Get Sh** Done.”
Dan wasn’t kidding. Our tour wound through a mass of conference rooms, work nooks, cubicles, a company library and something called the Park (an office space complete with “grass,” swings and hammocks). Every wall that wasn’t painted red, yellow or blue served as a whiteboard for numerous teams of developers crowding over the latest product – the office was teaming with life and personality, aiming to create the best cloud sharing and collaboration service for enterprises. The atmosphere was contagious.
As we crowded into the long conference room at the end of our visit, we were greeted by Chris Yeh, (WG ’95), and Jen Grant (WG ’01 and a proud Follies alumna), both members of the Box.com executive team. “We love MBAs at Box,” Chris announced as he proceeded to tell us about his background, his role with Box, and the company’s impressive product offering.
To many 2nd year MBA’s recruiting in the tech space, San Francisco has become a mecca for starting a business, getting inspired, or finding help with funding. In the past week, Cohort SF explored some of the most exciting and fastest growing startups, including Box.com, ModCloth, Yammer, and Rocket Space, all leaders in their respective categories. What is unique about these companies is not their funky offices, rather their innovation stems from unique leadership and big ideas. Duncan Logan, the founder of Rocket Space, a startup accelerator, put it aptly by describing San Francisco startups as having “the passion, the teamwork, the network, and the infectious environment [necessary to] find the next, next.”
According to Andrea, a Senior Hiring Manager with ModCloth, an online vintage clothing retailer and designer community, MBAs are in high demand for business development and product management functions. Jen, Vice President of Marketing at Box.com, echoed the sentiment, as Aaron Levie, the company’s CEO and Co-founder wisecracked lightly, “they’re all hired, we have space for all of them!” Despite the easy-going reception and banter, startups are starting to realize that MBAs are essential in driving business growth.
In addition to on-site excursions, we got a chance to reinforce some of the concepts we learned in the classroom, specifically in Entrepreneurial Marketing with Len Lodish. For fresh startups, such as betillion.com (a betting and trading social gaming platform endorsed by the Wharton Venture Initiation Program) the class brings critical insights to marketing, pricing analysis, and A/B testing. George Georgiopoulos (WG ’13), founder of betillion.com is excited about the applicability of coursework on Wharton’s West Coast campus, stating “it’s amazing how integrated all the classes are, and the resources that are available to enhance betillion’s pitch and marketing strategy, especially for a product that essentially creates its own category in a highly saturated space.” George is excited to approach VCs with new knowledge and contacts he gained through the program. “For us, betillion.com is just the first step, we are going to focus on pushing Bet.Tra.de in the UK as soon as November,” he said regarding his gambling platform for which he just received a pending patent.
But it’s not all work for us in San Francisco! Just a few days ago we had a mini Russian Revelry for Artem Dergunov (Happy 21st Birthday for the 9th time!), an Arabian Nights hookah outing (thanks to Ziad Baba for organizing), and we’re planning a group camping trip to Yosemite National Park this weekend (courtesy of the amazing Tommy Fu) as well as a Poker Night and Bar Crawl in Palo Alto (tip o’ the hat to Bryce Holland for volunteering). If you’re interested in coming out to San Francisco for a semester at Wharton’s unique West Coast campus, we welcome you to sign up for the Wharton West Fest (October 26 to 28).