World’s Coolest Boss: Himself
Andrew Vincent MBA'08
President, Adora Interactive Corporation
“The Kelley curriculum isn’t based around fluffy ideas; it’s more ‘here’s how you can analyze data and use it to influence your company’s strategy.’”
During their time as students in Kelley MBA program, Andrew Vincent and friends Stephen Wolff and Justin Chafe came up with some wild business plans.
“We had some terrible ideas,” laughs Vincent, referencing their idea of using robots to deliver packages door-to-door. One day, Vincent got a call from Andy Montgomery, a friend from college. Montgomery had ordered a product from Amazon.com—and scoffed at the "people who ordered this also liked this" recommendations that followed.
“Andy said, ‘I’m working on an algorithm to make better product recommendations to people online. I wonder if you can help me turn it into a business.’”
Vincent and Montgomery teamed up with Wolff, Chafe, and George Steimer (who came on board to build and program the site), to create droptome.com, a social networking Web site where users share and recommend lists of their favorite books, movies, music, and products.
“We call droptome.com an amalgamation of e-commerce and social networking sites—it’s like Facebook meets Amazon.” Vincent says the business will turn a profit through advertisements and will get a commission from all sales that go through Amazon, with whom they’re collaborating. Companies can also use the information gathered through the site to better target consumers, he says. If the majority of male, twenty-something users of the site rate a certain car as appealing, for example, the car company may choose to advertise on the site or place the product in movies that are popular with that demographic.
Throughout the business creation process, Vincent and his partners relied heavily on help from Kelley professors.
“Professor [Donald] Kuratko was the first one to look at the business plan and say ‘I don’t get it; I don’t see what the benefit of it is, and I don’t see how you’re going to make any money,’” says Vincent. While the advice was crushing at the time, the group used it to fine-tune their messaging. In a venture planning course with Johannes G. Denekamp, the business plan went from a “60-page, rambling behemoth into a concise 20 pages with just the necessary information.” They also used the resources and meeting space at the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and have made presentations to investors suggested by Kelley professors.
Vincent has high—but realistic—hopes for the site. The group founded Adora Interactive Corp. so that even if droptome.com doesn’t succeed, they can launch other businesses. “Entrepreneurship is a terrifying thing,” he says. “As I like to joke, I’ve graduated with the highest title and the lowest salary of all my classmates.”
Win or lose on this particular venture, Vincent already feels like a success. He owes his increased confidence and business knowledge to his Kelley preparation.
“I first found Kelley in Fortune magazine listed as one of the schools with the highest payoff [salary after graduation compared with tuition during school]. When I looked at the school and learned of its strong quantitative focus, I fell in love with it, and with Bloomington,” says Vincent, who is originally from Pittsburgh.
“The Kelley curriculum isn’t based around fluffy ideas; it’s more ‘here’s how you can analyze data and use it to influence your company’s strategy.’ It also has a strong focus on leadership that a lot of schools don’t have. Kelley is actually interested in turning someone into a good leader and inspiring them to do better—and I can say that's true from experience.”