5,000 Hours Later: 8 lessons from starting a company at Kellogg (Part 4 of 4)

My central focus while at Kellogg has been starting a company. What follows is the fourth part of an article I wrote for The Merger, Kellogg's school newspaper. It recaps, in brief, my experience at Kellogg.

5,000 Hours Later: 8 lessons from starting a company at Kellogg

7. Every waking moment has something that needs to be done

By Winter 2011, I had freed my responsibilities on The Merger to the current team. Consequently, every waking moment through the winter quarter seemed to revolve around PreScouter. Two PhD students from Northwestern’s Chemistry and Material Science programs curated content for the reports delivered to the three customers. Meanwhile a team from Shein’s New Venture Formation class started looking at how to systematize the business, determining what the operational processes and metrics needed to be. A second Kellogg team, from Razeghi’s Introduction of New Products and Services, worked on figuring out how the scale the business.

By the end of Winter 2011, over 40 students from across Northwestern had expended over 5,000 hours between them on PreScouter. From law students working on customer contracts to computer science students building the technology, the effort had been vast.

8. Growing is painful too

Through Spring 2011, we’ve been incubated in the Levy Center. With Doug Pollina ‘11, Ashish Basury (NU Chemistry PhD ’12) and Alok Tayi (NU Materials Science PhD ’11), with support from Hithesh Raghavan ’11, we’ve hit the phones once again, in search for new customers. Meanwhile we negotiate with existing customers to move them to longer-term contracts at higher price points, from paying hundreds of dollars per month to thousands, so the business is able to sustain a few people’s salaries. Through shear will and brute force, we’ve pushed the boulder this far up the mountain. We can’t have much further to go.