This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with HBS grad, Phil Strazulla.
Accepted: Thanks for the interview, Phil! Where are you from? Where did you attend business school? When did you graduate?
Phil: I’m originally from a small town south of Boston called Cohasset. I grew up there and then moved to NYC to attend NYU for college before coming back to Boston for HBS where I completed my MBA in 2014.
Accepted: If you could meet any famous person – past or present – who would it be and why?
Phil: Tough question. Definitely someone from the past because I just don’t think we know about what life was like back then very well and that’s always interested me. Probably some sort of “entrepreneurial” leader like Washington, Hannibal, or Jesus.
Accepted: How did you know that HBS was the right MBA program for you?
Phil: Obviously the brand is very strong, and incredibly strong internationally (seems like the further you get from Cambridge the more it helps). More than that, I wanted to start a company and in many ways HBS is the place to do it, even if Stanford is close to Silicon Valley. HBS startups have raised more money than YC companies, 1/3 of HBS alums start their own company, and there are insane resources on campus.
Accepted: You’re now a couple years post-MBA… How has the job market been for you?
Phil: I started my own company, NextWave Hire, out of business school. We deal with hiring so I see a lot of that data. I’ll say that the hiring market is still very robust for MBAs and there are a lot of opportunities. It may be tough still to break into PE, VC or hedge funds, but that will always be the case.
Accepted: You founded a startup called NextWave Hire. Tell us about it!
Phil: The average job seeker spends 2 hours researching a company before applying for a job. For most companies, they rely on generic job postings, bland career pages, and biased Glassdoor reviews. We partner with companies to build authentic employee stories to show job seekers what it’s really like to work at the company, and then push that content to career pages, social media, email marketing, etc.
I learned to code in business school and started this company with a friend of mine who I met originally through the Harvard Innovation Lab.
Accepted: What valuable information did HBS teach you about the startup world?
Phil: I learned that focus is the most important aspect of entrepreneurship. Everyday we have new ideas on how to build a better product, sell, etc – but we need to focus on 1-2 things at any given time first.
Accepted: Do you have any suggestions or tips for people who are considering an MBA and going the startup route?
Phil: Enjoy your time at school. It’s SO HARD to start a company while going to class. You only get to do b-school once, and it’s an amazing experience. Don’t dilute it by working part time on an idea…startups need your full attention to get going.
Definitely try to meet co-founders through clubs, dinners, parties, trips. Definitely learn new skills (coding, marketing, sales, product). And build your network of mentors, preferably entrepreneurs who have been there, done that.
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