How I got into Chicago Booth: Story of a Failed Entrepreneur

In this post we present to you the profile of a candidate successful at Chicago Booth.

Candidate: “Prior to applying to Booth, I was a Georgia-based financial adviser for a small audit firm. I did fairly well, and had gotten my Bachelor’s in Finance from a (reasonably) well-known University in Georgia. A couple of years before applying to Booth, I took a sabbatical from my job to try my hand at entrepreneurship. I had gotten fascinated by FinTech. With a friend I launched a FinTech startup, which ultimately failed. But the experience propelled me towards an MBA. I applied to Booth in the 2nd round and was accepted.”


Summary: White 27 year old male, with a Bachelor’s in Finance, working at a mid-size audit/advisory firm.

1. GMAT: 730
2. GPA: 3.8/4.0
3. Work Experience: 46 months with 2 promotions at the time of application
4. Employer: Renowned Audit/Advisory, Georgia
5. Extra-Curricular: Boxer – county champion;

Objective: “Moving into investment banking and private equity. Private equity since I had startup experience.”

Interview: “I was asked about my fling with the FinTech startup, and why I didn’t mention going back to entrepreneurship as my post-MBA objective. The interviewer told me that after all an MBA from Booth could put me in an excellent position in terms of the skills and the networks available, to become more successful in entrepreneurial ventures. Boy that was a difficult question for me to respond to. I told her that my startup experience had convinced me firmly that entrepreneurship was not my forte and given that I was already fairly successful in my career in finance/audit, it made sense to invest in gaining expertise at something which I was already good at.”

getting into Chicago Booth
The Harper Centre at Chicago Booth.

Editor’s Analysis:
A reasonably good profile, though “county boxer” seems quite exotic. A 730 GMAT for Booth is just above the median (726). GPA is great and so is the work experience with 2 promotions. While, an audit/advisory firm doesn’t sound very glamorous, its not all that bad. This could have been overlooked given that the candidate did get 2 promotions in the course of his/her job. Also there’s the elephant in the room: failed FinTech startup. Well, in the past we have seen different schools reacting differently to a failed startup on the resume. The same school has also reacted differently on different occasions. The fact that the candidate bounced back and only took a sabbatical to experiment his/her idea is a good booster. I’m guessing the candidate got his/her second promotion after the startup gig. In which case its understandable that his/her ability to get back must have impressed adcom.

I think the candidate did extremely well in the interview, there are some obvious weaknesses in the profile that have been well defended and coherently explained away, consistent with the rest of the application. As post-MBA goal of taking up entrepreneurship is getting terribly clichéd, so is the question, “Do you really need an MBA to become an entrepreneur?”. In this case adcom attempted to put the candidate in a spot, the candidate responded extremely well by affirming that entrepreneurship is not his/her forte.

Author: Homer

Homer is the head of our family. Homer as an MBA from a top-three US B-School. An engineering graduate from a non-IIT, Homer is hope for all non-IITians looking to get into HBS/Stanford GSB/UPenn. Homer has a BE degree in mechanical engineering from a Bangalore college. Homer says that he was never a great student in his earlier days or at engineering school. What then worked in his favor? Well he started a mechanical engineering startup after working for a couple of years at a renowned German automobile company that he got placed in out of campus. Homer has the longest work experience in our family - 2 yrs at the German automobile maker + 3 yrs at his startup. Homer sold his startup back to his former employer and is now a top consultant (MBB consulting). Watch out for posts by Homer (to avoid them, of course!).

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