The transition from MBA to CEO of his own company was Ken Mao’s plan two years ago when he entered Olin Business School. He just wasn’t sure what that company would be. As a runner and Cross Fit coach, it’s not surprising that Ken, MBA’16, likes to eat healthy food. He also likes to cook and discovered that he could turn his passion for healthy cuisine into a business when he started making meals for fellow b-school students and hungry entrepreneurs working in St. Louis startup incubators and co-working spaces.
Originally called, Mao’s Chow, Ken’s business has evolved over the past two years. With a new business plan and new company name, he graduated in May and began his own evolution from MBA to CEO of his startup, FUL Foods, LLC, a subscription-based meal delivery service for corporate health and wellness initiatives.
Ken’s target clientele in St. Louis includes: Administrative staff at medical centers such as BJC and SSM; and CrossFit and other Fitness Communities. Ken is profiled in Poets & Quants’ “2016 MBAs to Watch” online feature. Here are some excerpts from the Q&A:
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The highlight of business school was tying for first place in the final pitch competition for the Hatchery Course. It was a culmination of everything I had learned about entrepreneurship from school, from my relationships with mentors and peers in the St. Louis community, and from my own startup experience. I’m proud of the recognition for all the hard work I put into realizing my own idea and having the support of both my peers and mentors.
Why did you choose this business school? I chose Olin because of its academic reputation and strong ties to the St. Louis startup community. I knew I wanted to start my own company and have always been an experiential learner. In addition to getting a first class education, I knew I would have the opportunity to work side by side with peers and mentors in a city with a vibrant and growing entrepreneurship presence. I also liked the idea of being able to meet and know all my peers (both the graduating and incoming classes), an opportunity that would be otherwise difficult at much larger business schools.
What did you enjoy most about business school? One of the main reasons for selecting Olin was its relatively small entering class size. As such, the highlight of business school was having the actual opportunity to build a strong social and professional relationship with peers. Getting honest, quality feedback about my capabilities and my business ideas from a well-educated, diverse group of peers has been invaluable in my personal development.