Tag: Alumni



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Mike Harding, BSEN ’14/MBA ’16, wrote this for the Olin Blog.

Team on a Nike corporate team building scavenger hunt.

Nike corporate team-building scavenger hunt.

Helping people explore and connect around the world while working with clients like Nike, Amazon, and Google: Just two years after graduating from Olin, this is where I find myself.

At Olin, I studied quantitative finance. After graduating, I quickly landed a job at Allstate. But my true passion was entrepreneurship, which I also studied. I had already created two companies in my life, which both failed, but I was ready to try again.

While working at Allstate, commuting two hours a day, I was also working 50 hours a week on a new venture: a scavenger hunt app.

Let’s Roam is a scavenger hunt tour company that helps people explore their surroundings, connect with others, propose to their partners, and raise thousands of dollars for charity through donations and Charity Fundraising Scavenger Hunts.

On each scavenger hunt, questions, facts, and photo challenges are tied together with a smartphone app. Everyone works together to answer questions, learn about their surroundings, and take quirky team photos. I founded the company along with my brother Charlie Harding.

I wrote the first scavenger hunt in St. Louis. I walked around downtown on one of the hottest days of the year, connecting landmarks, and crafting games. After getting dehydrated, the end of the hunt was nearly incomprehensible—but I was quite literally pouring sweat into scavenger hunts.

Team on an Amazon corporate scavenger hunt with Let's Roam,

Amazon corporate scavenger hunt with Let’s Roam.

After I made that first hunt, I thought to myself: “Why couldn’t we build a company out of scavenger hunts?” One of my most profound moments at school was when I doing an independent study with John Horn, my professor of practice in economics. I researched the businesses that exist all around us and found that the simplest idea can be turned into a successful company. All you need is a market.

There were plenty of others selling scavenger hunts online, but as I learned from Cliff Holekamp, who was my professor of practice in entrepreneurship, it’s OK to jump into an existing market. At least you know there’s a demand.

We weren’t worried about hurdles or mistakes. They would surely come. We weren’t worried about investors either. We grew our company one scavenger hunt at a time.

Let’s Roam slowly built a team, which had its own learning curve. Apparently, you can’t just hire a developer and say “go develop.” I had to understand every angle of our business to know how to manage employees and know what to expect from them.

My brother and I combined our mutual love of travel, complementary skills, and a brutal honesty honed over a lifetime of butting heads. Our chemistry seems to be working. So far, these scavenger hunt tours have spread to more than 300 cities around the world, enjoyed by thousands of adventurous travelers and hometown explorers. A revised version of the original St. Louis Scavenger Hunt tour has been played thousands of times.

We’ve also been offering team-building scavenger hunts for companies big and small (see name drops above), as well as bachelorette scavenger hunts and charity fundraising scavenger hunts.

In the last few months, we have created a highly refined product. My brother and I, along with our ever-growing team, work tirelessly behind the scenes to enhance the scavenger hunt experience every day. The Let’s Roam app has a 4.9-star rating and 300-plus reviews.

In the coming year, we’ll be expanding into ghost hunts, food tours, and bar hunts while inspiring fellow travelers through our blog.

With the help of Olin, I’ve been able to pursue my passions, travel the world and build an ever-growing, fulfilling company. I don’t mean to brag. I want everyone studying at Olin to take get their degree and soar!

Pictured above: Founder Michael Harding, left, with brother Charlie Harding.

 




Cynthia Cryder

It’s National Financial Awareness Day—and we see it as our duty to bring you the best financial and business-related news today and every day. So pull up a front-row seat to this exclusive, free personal finance training, brought to you by associate professor of marketing Cynthia Cryder.

Why it matters

It’s easy to think of financial awareness as something that’s best left to the experts – but Cryder, whose research on personal finance ranges from the psychology of debt to the practical details of how we spend money, says that’s a big mistake—and one that could cost you emotionally as well as financially. Though she’s an expert in consumer decision-making and personal finance, Cryder defines financial awareness as “being deliberate about your finances and making a plan.” That means staying one step ahead and being ready for the next major or minor disaster – because it’s going to come.

Cryder says being aware of your finances and having a plan to save, reduce debt, and think about the future is crucial because of the sheer nature of how we react to money. In fact, Cryder says people in the United States cite financial stress as more difficult on them than health, job, or any other kind of stressor.

“It seems like not having emergency savings is one of the most stressful things, because most families and individuals have a financial shock every year,” Cryder explained. So getting your finances in control and knowing where you stand is about more than counting checks—it’s about a happier, healthier you.

Rethink saving

One of the most frequent roadblocks Cryder finds to helping people become financially well is a misunderstanding of the nature of savings—and emergencies. “The idea that the only type of savings is for the distant future, like education or health savings,” does the consumer a disservice. That’s because emergency spending should be a top priority, according to Cryder.

Why do we have such trouble thinking of saving up for the short term? It has to do with the kinds of financial emergencies we face and the way we compartmentalize them. “We see isolated expenditures as just that: isolated,” said Cryder. “So we think that we’ll never have that financial shock or expenditure again. And that may be true, but we’re bad at then understanding that we are going to have another unusual type of isolated shock or expenditure.”

So when we rationalize that a car breakdown isn’t likely to happen again in the near future, we forget to save for things like a health emergency, or a home repair. Rethinking the likelihood of an “exceptional” event happening, and understanding that you’re going to face one each year, is one of the keys to being truly aware of your financial situation.

One step at a time

Once you’re aware of the state of your savings and you’ve decided it’s time to reduce financial stress in your life, Cryder suggests a few simple ways of moving toward stability.

First up: Figure out what needs to change. “It’s about deciding what is important to you as a person and as a consumer,” she says. Assuming your finances are stressing you out, you’ve got two options: make more money or spend less.

That might take the form of getting an extra job on the side, or taking in a roommate or two to help with expenses. Or it could be as simple as tracking your expenses for a month, seeing what adds up and what could be cut to make room.

While that might seem easier said than done, it’s a crucial decision to make if you want to get rid of financial stress. It’s also the key to steps two and three: pay down those debts and start an emergency fund.

When paying down debts, Cryder recommends starting with the most expensive—think payday loans, credit cards, and anything above 10 percent APR. While that might seem obvious at first glance, Cryder and her fellow researchers have found that many consumers are actually more likely to tackle the manageable, lower-interest rates first. “It’s not entirely obvious that people shouldn’t be doing this, because it’s possible that people get a great satisfaction from clearing something off their plate,” she said. But keep in mind: the longer you wait to pay down those expensive loans, the more debt you’re accruing.

Once your debt is under control, an emergency savings fund is a must. Thinking about spending crises, Cryder warns that “these things keep coming up—and we keep having to deal with them.” So putting away some money with the expectation that you’ll spend it on an emergency will make you better equipped to handle that situation when it happens.

Become the best you

At the end of the day, everything Cryder does is about the consumer. She believes the goal of financial awareness is to “improve consumer well-being.” She wants to help consumers “reduce financial stresses and improve outcomes in terms of finding a good match between how they’re spending their money and how they’re finding satisfaction in life.”

In short: a financially aware you means a happier, healthier, and more satisfied you—and making life safer, better, and more comfortable for everyone is what Cryder—and financial analysts—are all about.




Today, Olin Blog starts a partnership with MondayKarma.com, a site produced by Olin alumnus (and 2018 emerging leader honoree) Mark Pydynowski, BSBA ’04. MondayKarma shares the advice and experience of WashU alums as they forged their career path after graduation. Olin Blog publishes the tl;dr version and links to the full story. We highlight the career path insights from another Olin alumnus, Teddy Daiell.

Teddy Daiell, BSBA '09

Teddy Daiell, BSBA ’09

Dad was a tax attorney. Mom was among the first female MBAs to graduate from Columbia University. With a career that’s wound from the back office of a single A baseball team, to strategy consulting to private equity to startups, Teddy Daiell, BSBA ’09, has not followed directly in their footsteps. Instead, he’s stayed true to his goal of becoming the author of his own story. Today, after a career that’s taken him to Bain & Company, Charlesbank Capital Partners and an MBA from Wharton, he works to instigate change in people’s lives through preventive health and wellness.

CORE CURRICULUM: Addressed in every interview

ON CHOOSING WASHU OLIN BUSINESS SCHOOL: “Even with good scores, I didn’t think I could get into one of the most prestigious schools based on my class rank. I narrowed my choices to Olin … or Wharton. When I did the campus visits, I felt like Washington University was a better fit for me. They were very customer-service oriented and I felt like they wanted me to have a good experience, whereas at Wharton there was an attitude that I should feel lucky they would even consider having me on the tour.”

ON FINDING THE RIGHT JOB: “I was looking to do business generically, but lacked direction in terms of exactly what I wanted to do…I stumbled into a class called ‘Managing Your Business Career Strategy,’ in the fall semester of my sophomore year…The class was my first real exposure to thinking about my future.”

ON GETTING THE INTERVIEW: “I cold emailed the manager at (Bain’s) Dallas office who was leading the recruiting effort and asked for an interview. I’m sure there are better ways to do it, but it’s nothing sexier than that.”

ELECTIVES: Freestyle responses from each interviewee

ON LEGACY: “I always had this sense that I could find a path that was meaningful for me, but also pressure because I have been given such fortunate gifts and it was clear that I needed to do something with it. I had the mentality that I need to get after that next rung of the ladder.”

ON ‘PROTOTYPING’ A CAREER: “Deloitte…would host workshops on campus that allowed students to do some work in that field such as run an Excel model for a strategy consulting project…Another way to prototype is through case competitions, where you work with a team on a strategy consulting case, do analysis and put together a presentation over a week or two.”

ON “BECOMING A HUMAN BEING”: “A key thing in all of the steps…is to not just be a piece of paper, but to become a human being in the eyes of the decision maker. To succeed, you have to rise above the rest of the resume stack, and dear God, there is a large resume stack.”

Visit MondayKarma.com to learn more about Teddy’s path through banking, consulting, and into preventative health, and how he maneuvered his various career permutations. You can also explore the career path for other WashU alumni.


Relive some of the sights and sounds from the Olin Veterans Association Dining Out event on March 29, 2018, with this quick video summary. Here are a few details about the event from our earlier blog post about it, written by Sontaya Sherrell, MBA ’18, and an Olin veteran herself.

Among the traditional rituals at the Dining Out, guests were invited to answer for violations of the written rules of the evening by paying a fine—all of which supports the Olin Veterans Scholarship Fund—or having a drink from the dreaded “grog bowl,” which features a hodgepodge of questionable ingredients mixed into one punch.

A few of the lighthearted rules guests could potentially be punished for include wearing a clip-on bow tie at an obvious angle, using excessive military slang or jargon, or wearing clip-on suspenders.

Guests were expected to adhere to an honor system in recognizing their own infractions or could be reported for an infraction by another attendee. Balancing out these more amusing aspects of the event were more solemn traditions, one of which included the recognition of those who could not be with us that evening.




Kenny Kline, EN

In INC. Magazine, entrepreneur Kenny Kline, EN ’08, MSF ’08—cofounder of online strength-based competition and training publisher BarBend—has some simple advice for other startup founders: Get an entire city behind you.

Kline first moved to St. Louis to attend WashU and ended up staying for several years after graduating because “St. Louis is a vibrant place with a lot of cool stuff going on.” Combine that with the relatively low cost of living and the city is a great place to start a business.

In the process of starting [my] company, I discovered what makes St. Louis highly valuable to would-be founders: The city is truly dedicated to helping startups thrive.

From the nonprofit Arch Grants program (which offers funding with no equity) to the Cortex Innovation Community (a 200-acre innovation hub and technology district in the heart of St. Louis), Cultivation Capital (a venture capital firm that supports multiple accelerator programs), and SixThirty (a global FinTech venture fund and business development program), St. Louis promises no shortage of resources for budding entrepreneurs.

And it’s exactly resources like these that explain why entrepreneurs are increasingly willing to leave the traditional startup hubs in search of greener (and more cost-effective) pastures. Those entrepreneurs who are brave enough to break with convention are finding boundless support in the middle of America.

In addition to sharing his own experiences, Kline (who also has an MBA from Columbia Business School) speaks with Michael Seaman, founder of SwipeSum, who moved his company from LA to St. Louis. Seaman also sings St. Louis’ praises as a stellar place for startups, boasting great talent, a strong work ethic, and of course, affordability going for it. Seaman is now on a mission to encourage other founders to look beyond the coasts and to take advantage of resources available in other parts of the country.

Read more at Inc. about Kline’s and Seaman’s experiences as entrepreneurs in St. Louis.


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