In our “What I Learned at…” series, MBAs discuss the tools and skills their business schools provided as they launched their careers.
Mili Mittal is a former mbaMission consultant and now the CEO and cofounder of mor.sl, a recipe recommendations platform designed to help busy professionals cook. mor.sl was recently featured in TechCrunch. Mili received her MBA and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship from the Haas School of Business at the University of California–Berkeley (UC Berkeley Haas) in 2010. In Part 3 of this four-part series, Mili discusses how UC Berkeley’s connections among its schools and in the community aided in the early development of her company.
I’ve covered the importance of having high-quality peers and of choosing a program whose method of teaching fits your style of learning. But what about the importance of synergy? You may be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. Synergy is important—what does your target business school offer beyond your school? For me, I’d stumbled (well, very consciously) into an incredibly synergistic campus. UC Berkeley is located an hour from Silicon Valley and in the heart of the slow food movement’s birthplace. What better place to start a food tech company? None.
UC Berkeley’s reach extends far. The synergy that the school shares with its surrounding area is incredible. Because of the strength of the Berkeley connection, I was able to meet one-on-one with incredible people, including some of my role models—Mitch Kapor and Will Rosenzweig. And I lived just two blocks from Chez Panisse restaurant, where Alice Waters founded the slow food movement many decades earlier.
But Berkeley’s reach is also deep—extending into other programs on campus. There is a synergy between the various schools at the university—the Goldman School of Public Policy, the UC Berkeley School of Information, the College of Engineering, the Boalt School of Law. In fact, through the Boalt School’s “New Business Counseling Practicum Seminar,” led by Professor William (Bill) Kell, my cofounders and I were able to get pro bono legal assistance that was critical to our early development and strategy. Michael Pollan, a professor at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the infamous author of Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, was kind enough to meet with my team while our venture was still in its infancy, just because we were Berkeley students.
Finally, Berkeley’s synergy is evident in everyday campus events. This synergy is what brings renowned speakers and industry veterans to campus to participate in the Entrepreneurial Best Practices Series and the Haas Women in Leadership Conference.
As you consider your school choices, think about where each school’s synergies lie. Figure out what kind of “spillover effect” you could benefit from, based on the school’s location and connection to other programs, alumni and resources that may be valuable in your projected career or venture. You won’t regret it!