In our “What I Learned at…” series, MBAs discuss the tools and skills their business schools provided as they launched their careers.
Nitzan Yudan is the CEO and co-founder of FlatClub, a United Kingdom–based online marketplace for short-term rentals that connects verified members of exclusive alumni, employment and organizational networks. In Part 2 of this four-part series, Nitzan describes the inspiration he found for starting his business while at London Business School (LBS).
The idea for FlatClub came together through a number of experiences I had while attending LBS. My first exposure to the opportunities afforded by the school’s alumni network occurred during an event hosted by the Entrepreneurship Club, at which Tony Wheeler (’72)—the founder of Lonely Planet [Publications] and an LBS alumnus—gave a talk. Wheeler was a kind of role model for me, as I frequently read Lonely Planet guides during my extensive travels.
A year after hearing Wheeler speak, I reached out to him via email. In his reply, he said that although he could not meet right away, since he was living in Australia, he would reach out whenever he was next in London. Three months later, he followed up, and we got together for a cup of coffee. This encounter helped me realize that attending LBS had significantly bolstered my reputation and enhanced my networking possibilities. I knew from this experience that there was something different about this MBA network.
Another significant moment in the inception of FlatClub came during a weekend trip to Bruges. My wife and I had hoped to rent out our London flat while we were gone to recoup some of the cost of our travel. Trust was an important factor in finding a renter. We didn’t want to rent out our place just to anyone online, so we ended up renting to the family of an LBS alum whom I did not know but had by chance found through the internal portal. The rent paid was generous, and I knew that this alum would not trash my apartment, because he had a reputation to uphold. We also wanted to create a positive impression, so we left all sorts of suggestions and directions to help accommodate him and his family during their stay. They were so happy that they left us a gift!
A light bulb went on. I realized that business school networks can fill the apparent need—especially common among MBA students and professionals who travel often—for a trusted source of short-term rentals. In addition, the same network that inspired this idea would equip me with the necessary tools and support to launch my entrepreneurial debut. Nine months later, I had a business.