The London Entrepreneurship Review in conversation with the personalities of the LBS MBA Class of 2016 technology and entrepreneurship community. A special tribute to the Class of 2017, the incoming Class of 2018 and all future LBS students.
Basic profile - Name, Nationality and Past Professional Background
Matt Wichrowski, American
Past professional life: Management Consulting as an Associate with Booz & Company; focus in operations strategy (supply chain, manufacturing footprint, logistics, etc)
What is your ‘LBS tech story’? Where do your interests lie?
I came to LBS with an intention to break into venture capital, so immersing myself in London’s tech was table stakes. Today “technology” usually means software or mobile devices but historically it’s the answer to the question “How do we solve X?”. Tech advancements always reflect the demands and desires of the community around it, which is why London has been such a source of innovation. A few years ago London was predominantly known for consumer-focused startups, mostly due to the highly concentrated population within the city. More recently London has proven itself to be a global leader in deep technology fields like machine intelligence and quantum computing.
Within LBS I got involved a broad range of clubs/events. The highlight was running TELL, LBS’ premier speaker series where we hear from Europe’s most successful founders. I also participated in and helped run VCIC, which I can’t recommend highly enough for anyone with VC aspirations. Organizing the Tech & Media Summit was one of the most challenging activities I did but running a conference is a right of MBA passage.
What did you do for your summer-internship and what are you doing full-time after graduation? How did you secure these jobs?
Over the summer I worked for an early-stage VC fund in London. It was an amazing experience where I spent every day meeting amazing people and learning about cutting edge tech trends. I secured my internship through I connection I made organizing the Tech Summit, but I probably spent 5 months interviewing with funds throughout the city. Recruiting for VC is an absolute gauntlet but if you’re determined it will happen. In the 2016 class we had five students secure VC roles over the summer.
I actually held three jobs during my MBA and the most recent was with Entrepreneur First, a UK based pre-seed investment program for deep technology startups (www.joinef.com
). I ran investments for a cohort of portfolio companies in what was originally a three-month contract role. I ended up falling in love with the company and the team so I’ll be staying on with EF post-graduation.
What do you consider to be your most significant contribution to London Business School tech-community?
I’m excited that my biggest contribution is forth-coming. Post graduation I’ll be 100% dedicated to building out a global network of tech investors. London is a great starting point to grow a new venture, but true success comes on a global scale. Being part of the LBS community gives you access to some of the greatest minds in the world. My hope is to do the same for the world’s best capital. I plan to share my curated network of VC and angel investors with the LBS ecosystem making our grads much more valuable to startups or ideally paving the way for future founders.
What was the highlight of your MBA?
Travel. Travel as frequently as you can until you’re broke. London’s a great city but by far the best part of living here is that you’re a <two hour flight to dozens of countries. I highly recommend going on as many social/cultural treks as possible and enjoy the diversity that Europe has to offer.
What is the one thing you wish you knew before coming to LBS?
There is WAY too much pressure placed on summer internships. The reality is no one, outside of the MBA program, really cares about internships so try to avoid the social pressure. 80% of the students I know hated their internships, but figuring out what to NOT do is incredibly valuable. Even if you don’t land a role, remember that it’s just a line of text on a CV that you’ll probably remove a year after graduation.
How has your London Business School experience shaped or influenced your interest in the tech-sector?
LBS gave me an appreciation for how interdependent a tech company is to its surrounding ecosystem. It’s common to read how a startup lives and dies by the product and the team, but in truth there is a host of external factors that a founder can’t control. Available investment capital, supportive regulation, clear IP/patent laws, etc. all act as a hidden foundation for success.
As an example, on my GBE I visited India and was shocked to see that the limiting factor to ecommerce growth wasn’t consumer mobile adoption but logistics and distribution. Tech companies couldn’t achieve scale until the proper infrastructure was built (roads, depots, etc.). This is something we take completely for granted in the US and UK.
What advice would you give to the incoming class of London Business School?
If you’re interested in the tech space you should know coming in that a lot of people will think you’re an idiot because you have an MBA. Specifically, many will assume you are arrogant, only interested in “strategy” and unwilling or unable to execute on a day-to-day level. It may not be fair or accurate but the preconceived notion is very present. Assume this as the default perception and disprove it every chance you get. You’ll be shocked by how many doors will open once you clear that bar.
Are you staying in London after graduation? How can people get in touch with you?
Sadly not, I’ll be working for a UK company but will be based in Boston.
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