Tech Movers and Shakers: Thomas Verbist
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
Thomas Verbist, Belgian
Past professional life: International Marine Fuels Sales at ExxonMobil
What is your ‘LBS tech story’? Where do your interests lie?
I started the MBA with a business idea I wanted to dedicate my time to (recommending craft beers to people based on their taste profile). My aim was to have a business started by April in the first year so I could work on it during the summer.
After discovering that there was no product market fit, I decided to yet try another idea (matching people in hotels, airports based on common professional interests). After a fair amount of drawbacks (and there will be a lot, I can guarantee that) I realized that I lacked the true passion in order to build this to a successful venture. I then switched my focus on finding an internship and later a full-time role in a software/technology oriented company
I was actively involved with the E-club as co-chair of the annual conference. I also tried to join as many TELL series as possible and they always inspired me!
What did you do for your summer-internship and what are you doing full-time after graduation? How did you secure these jobs?
By April I started looking for an internship in the “tech-space”. I created a gigantic list of “interesting” companies in London. It would have saved me so much time if I had chosen an industry to work in in and stick to it (craft.co is a great help here).
I got my internship by thoroughly researching the company I really wanted to work for before meeting them on the LBS Summer Career Fair. Seemingly the MD was impressed: the day after I met him the deal was done. I had my internship as growth strategist at Sharethrough (received Round C, $100m revenue). My responsibility was to develop a hands-on strategy on how the company could scale in mainland Europe.
Don’t forget that a trip to the HQ in SF can be a very interesting perk to negotiate!
Sharethrough offered me a full-time position by April in my second year. The summer experience and offer helped me to get more interviews and I decided to join Uber as Ops and Logistics Manager.
What do you consider to be your most significant contribution to London Business School tech-community?
What was the highlight of your MBA?
What is the one thing you wish you knew before coming to LBS?
How has your London Business School experience shaped or influenced your interest in the tech-sector?
What advice would you give to the incoming class of London Business School?
The MBA is to try different things, however, make up your mind soon (by March in your first year). Being focused about your “tech-related industry” (i.e. FinTech, AdTech, FoodTech,…; craft.co is a great help) will allow you to meet the right people, have deeper conversations and make you feel confident when declining to go to certain events.
Decline at least 90% of the potential time commitments that cross your path. Stick to your focus. It will pay off!
I had 2 offers with tech companies that received about $20-30m each from investors. However, I negotiated too hard and one party withdrew their offer. Therefore, use the internship as a means to obtain a full-time offer, not to earn the most money in the short run!
Are you staying in London after graduation? How can people get in touch with you?
Yes, I'll be in London. You can reach me via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect via: linkedin.com/thomasverbist
Tweet me @tverbist
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