Archive for the ‘MBA’ category

Video Interviews on The Huffington Post and AOL Small Business

March 7th, 2011

Man, I’ve been busy lately balancing my duties at SkillSlate and my last semester of business school.  I haven’t had any free time to blog, but I did want to briefly post links to a couple cool video interviews that I’ve been a part of lately.   We were fortunate to have received some great coverage of SkillSlate via video interviews with both The Huffington Post and AOL Small Business.  Thanks to Ramon B. Nuez Jr., Zev Mo Green, and Lauren Drell for the coverage!

Stern Entrepreneur’s Roundtable

February 7th, 2011

As I previously wrote, a couple months ago I participated in a great event at NYU Stern called the Entrepreneur’s Roundtable.  I had meant to write more about it a while back, but I just discovered a great summary by the school newspaper.

While I know many of the entrepreneurs at Stern, I met a few new folks who either have or are currently starting very impressive companies.  It was truly impressive to hear my peers’ stories.  While all impressive in their own ways, one that struck me was first year MBA Linz Shelton who once got the UCLA football team to help her assemble her Cuffz by Linz bags when she was out of money but had just secured a huge order from Nordstrom.  Other stories included a classmate who had just raised angel funding at a several million dollar valuation, to others who had bootstrapped their businesses to profitable and growing organizations.  I was honored to have taken part, and I’m equally honored to work beside such great people and entrepreneurs everyday at Stern.

NYU Stern Entrepreneurs Panel

October 14th, 2010

I feel very fortunate to have been invited to speak on an NYU Stern entrepreneurship panel this coming Monday.  Full event details can be found on the EEX website, but here’s the description from their site:

Seven of NYU Stern’s best entrepreneurs are currently launching companies while in Bschool and taking advantage of NYU resources to propel their businesses forward. The panelists will discuss their real-life experiences with entreprenuership at NYU and the challenges they have overcome with their successful startups, which encompass social media, video, fashion, ecommerce, social venture, and venture capital portfolio companies. You don’t want to miss this rare opportunity. Join us Monday, October 18, 4:30-6pm in room 3-110.

There is a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial activity taking place in the NYU ecosystem, and the Stern MBA program has actually exceeded my expectations in this department.  The Stern Entrepreneurs Exchange Club is now the largest student club, and is throwing a ton of exceptional events.  Great job and congrats go out to the club leaders!

I hope to see some of you on Monday.

IA Ventures is Hiring a VC Intern

September 9th, 2010

Given how rare VC internship opportunities are, I wanted to share this venture capital internship opportunity with IA Ventures.  I had the opportunity to meet with Brad Gillespie while fundraising for SkillSlate.  While it was a pass for them, Brad was extremely insightful and gave us some great ideas and advice (some of which we are actually working to implement right now).  I’m sure they’d be great to work for, so good luck if you choose to apply!  Details are below.

Title: Venture Capital Intern

IA Ventures ( – an early-stage venture capital firm investing in companies developing breakthrough tools and technologies for managing and extracting value from Big Data – is seeking a Venture Capital Intern to support the operations and investment processes of our fund. The successful candidate will become a contributing member of a small team of highly successful investors and entrepreneurs. The candidate will be a highly analytical, innovative and driven self-starter with good business judgment and a keen attention to detail.


- Help diligence potential investments, including: financial modeling, market analysis, and primary and secondary research

- Research areas of strategic importance to the IA Ventures ecosystem

- Provide operational support to IA Ventures’ internal initiatives

- Maintain IAVP’s internal investment database


- Meaningful understanding of and involvement in startup ecosystem

- Entrepreneurial operating experience a big plus

- Tech savvy / net-native

- Strong verbal and writing skills

- Exceptional organizational skills and a strong attention to detail


- Flexible, but minimum of 15 hours per week

- This internship is unpaid

Please send (i) resume + (ii) one-paragraph explanation of interest to BY SEPTEMBER 15

NYU Stern Ranks Among the Top 5 Most Selective MBA Programs

August 13th, 2010

Stern recently published its MBA profile for the class of 2012 which will matriculate this fall.  The major admissions statistics remained similar with an average undergrad GPA of 3.5 and an average GMAT of 718 (up from 717 last year).  The stat that jumped out to me is that Stern’s selectivity is now down to an acceptance rate of just 13% of all applicants (down from 15% in 2008, and 14% when I applied in 2009).  While not all schools have released updated admissions statistics, based on a spot check of several top MBA programs, and a look at BusinessWeek’s B school comparison tool, Stern is now the 4th most selective MBA program in the U.S.

  1. Stanford GSB: 7% selectivity
  2. Berkeley (Haas): 11% selectivity
  3. Harvard: 12% selectivity
  4. NYU (Stern): 13% selectivity
  5. MIT (Sloan): 14% selectivity

Selectivity is a factor in most MBA rankings, which is likely part of the reason why Stern continues to rise in the MBA rankings.  Of course, this creates a virtuous cycle – as Stern ranks higher, more people apply, which makes it more selective, which helps it rank higher – round and round you go.  There are obviously a hundred other factors at play, but this is a good place to be for Stern (and for Sternies like myself).

Methodology Disclaimer: This is only directionally relevant as it’s somewhat of an apples to oranges comparison.  This analysis is based on a mix of data – some schools have reported their most recent class profiles, while others have not yet.  To compare Stern against other top programs, I looked at data for other schools in the top 15 rankings.  I checked the BusinessWeek tool, though that data is from 2008 and 2009, so it’s not completely up-to-date.  In order to try to get more recent data, I then looked at each individual B school website and updated the numbers for any schools that had more recent data.  After doing both, Stern came in at #4, though it could change when all of the schools update their most recent class profiles.  Other schools within striking distance include MIT Sloan (14% in 2009), Yale (18% in 2009), and Tuck (19% in 2009).  I would be surprised if Yale or Tuck displace Stern from the top 5 this year given the 5-6 percentage point differential from their acceptance rates in 2009 compared to Stern’s in 2010.

Contour Venture Partners – Venture Capital Internship

August 3rd, 2010

Contour Venture Partners is a terrific early-stage VC firm based in New York City led by Bob Greene and Matt Gorin.  I first met Bob when he spoke to InSITE last fall about his career in the venture capital industry.  I later corresponded a few times with Matt via email when I applied for their internship last fall.  Fortunately/unfortunately, I had to later bow out as I accepted an offer to intern for Canaan Partners just before receiving the invitation to interview with Contour (I say fortunately because I was lucky to get the offer at Canaan, I say unfortunately because Contour is a great firm too).  About six months later, I had the uniquely interesting experience of later putting on my entrepreneur hat, and sitting on the other side of the table delivering SkillSlate’s pitch to both Bob and Matt.  While the meetings didn’t result in a check, they were extremely valuable as both Bob and Matt were extremely insightful, both asked great questions as well as offered welcome advice.  Based on my experiences with Contour Ventures, I would highly recommend this internship opportunity at the fund.

Position: Venture Intern (part-time during academic year)

Contour’s Profile: Contour Venture Partners is a New York based early stage venture capital firm that works with companies that provide technology enhanced products and services in the financial services, digital media and internet sectors.  The principals at Contour have a long and successful track record, having directly supported over 50 companies through numerous market cycles since the late 1980s.

Job Description: We are looking for a first or second year student to work with us during the academic year as a venture intern.  This is a great way to learn about the venture capital industry as the intern will have exposure to many aspects of the venture capital business.

The venture intern will work closely with the partners and will be responsible for various projects that relate to deal sourcing, company diligence, industry and sector research, financial modeling and database management.

Qualifications: 3+ years experience prior to graduate school at a startup, technology operating company, venture capital firm or management consulting firm
- Strong operational and entrepreneurial mindset
- Ability to work independently
- Strong work ethic and self-starter
- Excellent written, oral communication and analytical skills
- Exposure to startup and emerging technology companies
- Detail oriented
- Strong modeling skills
- Intellectually curious and strong ethical character
- Deep interest in venture capital
- Strong investment judgment

Contact: Matt Gorin,

Good luck!

NYU Stern Rises to #9 in the U.S. News MBA Rankings

May 9th, 2010

NYU SternI try not to place too much emphasis on the MBA rankings.  For one, I think it’s extremely difficult (or impossible) to accurately force rank schools based on quantitative data that is unlikely to effectively capture how ‘good’ a program is.  To that point, choosing the right MBA program is an extremely personal decision, and includes numerous factors that cannot be captured in any ranking methodology.

With that caveat in place, I do admit to looking at the rankings when they’re published each year.  Every MBA does (and if they say they don’t, they’re lying).  People in business school have too much ego not to care, and it’s too great an investment of both time and money to ignore where your program ranks (at least in other peoples’ minds).

Last night a friend of mine informed me that NYU Stern rose to the #9 position in the most recent 2010 U.S. News & World Report MBA Rankings.  My MBA ego was pretty pleased to see that (in case it’s not obvious, I’m poking fun at myself).  Stern had been solidly ranked within the top 10 U.S. business schools by other ranking publications (#7 in both the Economist and the Financial Times) , but had been floating in the #10-11 spot in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings (arguably the most widely followed ranking) for the last couple years.

For me personally, the most satisfying aspect of the new rankings is that NYU Stern is now tied with Columbia Business School for the #9 spot.  Given that my girlfriend is at Columbia, and I work with a number of CBS students through my involvement with InSITE, it feels slightly better to be on more equal footing :)

2010 U.S. News & World Report MBA Rankings

1. Harvard

1. Stanford

3. MIT Sloan

4. Northwestern Kellogg

5. U Chicago Booth

5. Wharton

7. Dartmouth Tuck

7. Berkely Haas

9. NYU Stern

9. Columbia Business School

11. Yale

12. Michigan Ross

13. UVA Darden

14. Duke Fuqua

15. UCLA Anderson

Presenting SkillSlate at Stern Innovates

March 29th, 2010

I was recently invited by my classmate and friend Yoni Argaman (new co-president of the Stern entrepreneurship club) to present my startup SkillSlate at the inaugural Stern Innovates event.  I was humbled to have been asked, and am very excited to formally unveil the first iteration of SkillSlate to the NYU community.  I’ll be joined by my colleague Bartek Ringwelski who is the co-founder and CEO of SkillSlate.

The idea of Stern Innovates is to provide exciting NYU affiliated startups with a venue to present and receive feedback on their ventures from members of the Stern community as well as from venture capitalists, lawyers and other entrepreneurs that will be in the audience.  Each event will also feature a successful entrepreneur that will share his story with the audience. Following the event, we will continue for post-event drinks at a nearby reserved venue (TBD soon).  I look forward to the event,  more details are below.

4:45 – 6:45PM, Wednesday, April 14th, KMC 5-50

Guest Speaker: Itzik Ben-Bassat, former VP at Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft) and the current Founder and CEO of GameGround, a local venture backed gaming start-up will review current business models in the gaming industry.

Pitching Early Stage Ventures:

1. Brian Rothenberg, SkillSlate
SkillSlate connects consumers with trusted individual service providers who charge a fraction of the price of established companies.  SkillSlate empowers the 16mm+ individual service providers in the US to market their services directly to consumers. A SkillSlate profile provides detailed professional and personal information including pictures, fees, and reviews, all with the aim of not only showing what the person does, but who the person is. SkillSlate puts these profiles together into a searchable, sortable directory where consumers can find service providers that fit their specific needs.

2. Dan Leahy and Ben McKean, VillageVines

VillageVines provides a private marketplace where upscale service businesses discount specific hours when they have excess capacity. VillageVines provide businesses with a demand management tool to improve their utilization and enable consumers to book discounted appointments with high-end restaurants, clubs, spas, salons and events. Since discounts on VillageVines are only visible to VillageVines members and cannot be listed by search engines, businesses can discreetly tier their pricing structures to profitably serve more customers without cheapening their brands to the general public.

3. Adi Kalderon, PolySolar
PolySolar is a startup company based on an innovative technology in the solar energy field of Organic Photovoltaics (OPV). Developed at the Organic Electronics Lab at Polytechnic Institute of NYU by Professor Kalle Levon and Eduard Nasibulyn Ph.D., our OPV solar cells are polymer based and manufactured using electrochemistry techniques. This unique combination has enabled PolySolar to drastically reduce the overall cost and offer a solar energy source that is efficient, cost-effective, flexible, transparent and lightweight that can operate in low-light intensity and be applied to any shape or surface. With these competitive advantages, PolySolar’s OPV technology is targeted for the portable electronics market to offer a sustainable energy solution. The company’s OPV solar cells will allow devices, such as cell-phones and laptops, to recharge without electricity from grid power

Please RSVP to this event as seating is limited!

Peru is Amazing

March 23rd, 2010

I’ve been more than a bit quiet the past couple weeks between midterm season and more excitingly, spending spring break in Peru the past 10 days or so. I had an absolutely fantastic time and thought the country was truly spectacular as it exceeded all of my expectations. Peru was significantly more developed than I expected it to be, and the vastly varying climates, landscapes, histories, and ecosystems were incredible to see. We got the large metropolitan and beach experience in Lima, mountain beauty and historical Incan ruins of Cusco, and extreme biodiversity of the Amazon basin rain-forest in Tambopata.

The food was also excellent (had the best ceviche ever in Lima), and most importantly, the company of my classmates was tremendous. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend more time with friends that I already had but don’t see often enough, as well as make friends with some other truly exceptional people that I hadn’t met before the trip.

Below is my very favorite picture from the trip. We climbed to the pinnacle of the Inca ruins at the top of Pisac which is more than 12,000 feet above sea level. The 360 degree view of the Andes was indescribable, and something I’ll never forget.

Brian Pisac Peru

There is also a ‘best of’ photo album from everyone’s pictures.

David Rose’s “Confessions of an Angel Investor”

February 25th, 2010

David S. Rose at NYU SternLast night I was fortunate to see prominent NYC angel investor David S. Rose give his “Confessions of an Angel Investor” talk at NYU Stern.  I heard super-angel Ron Conway talk last semester, which I thought was amazing, so I was eager for David’s presentation as well.  I’ve been lucky to learn a great deal about early-stage VC investing through my internship with Canaan Partners, however, I didn’t previously know quite as much about the angel investing space, therefore I found these sessions to be particularly interesting.

David, who runs Rose Tech Ventures and is the Chairman of the New York Angels, shared some interesting facts about angel investing, and quite a bit of helpful advice for entrepreneurs.  I plan to do a couple follow-up posts about his talk, but I’m going to focus this post on the most important things he looks for in entrepreneurs (along with his commentary on each point).

Top 10 Things David Rose Looks for in Entrepreneurs

  1. Integrity – the #1 most important thing, “this is not bullshit, this is serious”
  2. Passion – there is a “positive correlation between passion to create something big, and success”
  3. Experience – [have you started a business before, even if you started and failed (prior failure has no negative correlation with later success)] – “have to learn by doing, until you’ve done everything related to starting a business, you won’t know how”
  4. Knowledge – knowledge of the market and/or business
  5. Skill – you have the skills to execute  and know how to hire people, market it, run finances, everything (or as much as you can).  Need a team that fills in all the functional skills that the business needs.
  6. Leadership – Can be formal or informal (ie: you were captain of your football team, you started a student club and ran it)
  7. Commitment“This is not a weekend thing for you.  I need you to stay with this thing until it exits and I get my money back”
  8. Vision – You must have the vision to create something (this will keep you committed). “Apple’s in the business to change the world one person at a time”
  9. Realism “I’ll bet on you to do it, but who’s your first customer?” Building up realistically (without crazy numbers), rational projections that you and I can believe, and how you can get there one person at a time.
  10. Coachabiltiy “I want you to be coachable, I want you to listen.  If I suggest that you think about something, probably not a bad idea to listen and think about it because together I think we can build something special.”

And he threw in an 11th point that brings it all together:

Communication“Show me that you can do all these things and convey all this stuff in a meaningful and convincing way.”

All of David’s above-listed points really resonated with me and are things that I am focusing on applying to my inner-entrepreneur.  If you missed his talk, you can check out a recorded version HERE (or stay tuned for more tidbits in later posts)!