Many people ask me this. “You left the top business school on the Forbes rankings…to go clean teeth?” And I say yep, you got it.
I want to explain to everyone why I am taking a leave of absence from my MBA program. It’s not JUST that I am passionate about Floss Bar. Working on Floss Bar is certainly an addiction. But there are a number of practical realities that convinced me taking a leap of faith is worth it.
1. Running an early stage business involves chaos that distracts you from school
Managing a dental services company is hard work. You operate on many levels such as;
- Supply and staffing
- Making sure the morale of your staff is at its best
- Pitch and monetize the business
- Build relationships and secure major deals
Few things go as planned. You learn by doing the best you can, getting advice, and fighting forest fires the rest of the time. This keeps your mind distracted from any other major goal you have or activity you need to invest time in.
2. School is expensive, especially when you aren’t taking advantage of all the resources
I love Wharton. Love it. There are so many resources available and the students are really high caliber personally and professionally. The problem is that each semester I am dropping at least $50k all in. If you are running a business, you’re not going to the activities, parties, trips, and classes enough to really make your money work for you. This leads to constant feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out). You start comparing how often you socialize to how often your peers do and constantly feel behind.
3. Finance recruiters like ex-entrepreneurs, not current ones
One of the most important things you get out of business school is a great job. You start recruiting 2 months into your first year and it doesn’t stop until spring of the second year. Because financial firms are about to pay you hundreds of thousands of dollars, they are very selective in making sure you are committing to them. Logically, anyone who has their own start-up is a flight risk and has wanderlust that may cause them to leave their selective job too soon after the training period to be a good investment. It's simple business logic no matter how well you tell your story. And for me, I genuinely like finance. If not for Floss Bar, that is what I would be doing. I love a job where I have to be in the news flow constantly, analyze companies, and advise others. But no matter my pedigree, the first question I get in an interview is about my commitment to my startup. It’s the first thing that comes up when you google me.
4. Angel investors do not like students
Being in school means you are hedging your options. Some investors love prudent people. But many are concerned that a few months of misfortune with your business and you will just go for your safe option and close the business they just invested in. It’s not even a power thing. It’s not that they want you to be desperate so they control you. It’s simple business logic. Your likelihood of raising money at a good valuation is much higher if you drop out.
5. Being pulled in too many directions is not a recipe for good health
I remember the week when midterms finished and I really went all out. That week I was cramming for midterms, taking them, sending out recruiting emails, traveling back and forth between NYC and Philly, hosting a high-flying guest, and I felt the need to go the three nights of parties in a row that all of my peers were at and drink whiskey every night with them. By Saturday morning, I was vomiting so hard I popped some capillaries in my eye and my poor guest had to hold my hair back as the Uber driver kicked us out of the car. I spent 3-days with bloodshot eyes nursing myself back to health. That was a wake-up call, big time.
6. Wharton offers a very generous leave of absence policy
I am very lucky that I go to a school which lets you come back within 5 years if you fail. I mean, you will be paying them out of the nose again, but you will have the opportunity to reset your career without any issues. Taking a chance while in the nest is a no brainer to me. If you can prove people are willing to pay for something you made, it can be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Many of us have creative ideas. I plan to have plenty along my 100-years of life. But I only see myself executing them effectively and safely when I am young. Once you get out of business school, you just paid a whopping $200k and made $0 income for two years. Seriously, how likely are you to continue your start-up then?
To any student entrepreneurs out there who have proven their concept, get the heck out of class. Ramen noodles don’t taste that bad.