By Lauren Tulp (WG’14), Consultant, Wharton Small Business Development Center Business Building Program
It has only been two months since I started consulting for the Wharton SBDC Business Building Program, and I can already tell something very special is happening in Vance Hall.
Every week pairs of MBA students meet with local Philadelphia entrepreneurs to advise them on whatever challenges they happen to be facing – big and small. I have brainstormed potential business models with a woman wanting to employ foster youth. I helped convince the founder of a marketing firm to increase her prices. Being an entrepreneur is an isolating, soul-searching process, and I can see the visible relief our clients feel in being able to test their ideas and share their challenges with us.
The most striking meeting I’ve had occurred a few weeks ago. I met with a single mother living in public housing who dreams of opening her own salon. Currently she does hair out of her home, but she’s ready for the next step. In previous meetings the SBDC helped her estimate her costs and track her current customers, and during our session we helped her determine how many customers she will need to break even in a salon. I was impressed by her grit and determination. “In two years, I want this to be a reality,” she told us.
Entrepreneurship is a hot topic in MBA programs these days. But most entrepreneurs will never be backed by a VC firm or take their companies public. The entrepreneurs I’ve seen are people aspiring for a better life for themselves and their neighbors. They may be working on the local scale, but each week I’m inspired by their drive and passion.
Lauren Tulp is currently in her first year in the Wharton MBA Program where she is a member of Wharton Women in Business, the Wharton Consulting Club, and the Wharton International Volunteer Program. Prior to Wharton, Lauren earned her B.A. from Harvard and worked for philanthropic foundations in Boston and Palo Alto.