The Hottest MBA
Startups you’ve never heard of
BY JEFF SCHMITT
FROM ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE SOFTWARE TO A MOBILE BANK FOR INTERNATIONALS,
THESE MBA FOUNDED ENTERPRISES HAVE DISRUPTIVE POTENTIAL
For many entrepreneurial-minded MBAs, launching a startup embodies the frontier ideal of taking charge of their own destiny. Their role models are bootstrappers who
turned industries inside out with a mix of pluck
and endurance. This phenomena has only been
amplified by Millennials, who revel in challenging
convention and testing limits. For this current crop
of MBAs, startups have moved beyond large exits,
IPOs, and loads of cash and have also become a
means to pursue social good, platforms to connect
resources, and opportunities to build or even create
THE MOST DISRUPTIVE STARTUPS
This year, we asked 28 leading business schools
to nominate what they consider the newest and
most “disruptive” startups founded by MBAs. Here’s
a few examples of what we found.
In 2018, Sonny Tai and Ben Ziomek, graduates
of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of
Business, launched Aegis AI. The company’s
artificial intelligence software turns existing
security cameras into smart cameras that can
detect guns. As a result, Ziomek says, companies
can head off potential gun violence – “without
invading privacy.” The investment community
loves the concept and have thus far poured over
$2.2 million into Aegis AI.
Founded by Columbia Business School graduates,
Sable brands itself as the “first mobile bank for
internationals in the U.S.” Targeting international
students, the platform enables customers to easily
access their “Sable Card” with just a passport.
Already accepted into Y Combinator, Sable is
moving cautiously, with about 200 members in
an invite-only pilot. Upon rollout, the institution
will be able to tap into a market of 44. 5 million
immigrants in the United States alone.
Many MBAs tap into talent pools at other colleges
within their university, such as engineering or
medical schools. At the University of Minnesota,
Jack Schneeman helped launch Phraze to aid
physicians; in initial tests, this “scribe” has freed up
90 minutes of a doctor’s day by parsing through
key data during patient conversations to generate
Not every MBA startup is predicated on analytics,
artificial intelligence, or algorithms. Take M’panadas,
which matriculated at Georgetown University’s
McDonough School. Positioned as “real food
to fuel people on the go,” M’panadas promotes
health with a balanced meal tucked inside a pocket
using ingredients inspired by Hispanic street
foods. UCLA’s Eliqs caters to special events with
personalized craft beers. In the apparel space, Lia
Winograd’s Pepper markets bras to women with
small cup sizes, an often-underserved population.
Of course, several MBA startups defy categorization.
This year, Sahar Jamal won the 2019 Kellogg
Social Entrepreneurship Award at Northwestern
University, which included $70,000 in seed
money. Jamal designed the Maziwa breast pump
customized for working women in developing
Pay attention to these players in the startup space.
Very soon, these companies could be changing
the way you live, work, and play.