Student Perspectives

Student Perspective

Ricky Tan

Ricky Tan

MBA 17

Founder
TokenData

Breaking Into Fintech with an MBA

Before Haas, I worked in banking and finance for six years. While this was analytically rigorous work, I wanted to learn about technology in an entrepreneurial environment. From a career perspective, I wanted to press "reset" and become more fluent technically.

I believed an MBA in the Bay Area would be the best fit for me to be exposed to both the industry and the people from whom you can learn the essential skills.

Exploring entrepreneurship with an MBA

I spent time with Haas classmates who have experience in entrepreneurship. They made me realize that I can do what they can do. Ultimately, I want to launch my own fintech venture or startup.

On a higher level, what I want to do is build something from scratch, or help someone else do this. Whether it’s a happy customer or a great product, the process of building something yourself is the most rewarding.

Entrepreneurship encourages you to try out business ideas, which I often did with classmates. Haas affords you the freedom to iterate on a lot of small projects.

My roommate and I worked with a computer science student to build a website on cryptocurrencies. We built it from scratch and launched it with very little expectations. It got great reception. It made me realize that someone one the other side of the world could be using my product.

Learning from experience, feedback, and failure

I'd have regular conversations with classmates who had started (and failed at) startups. I can take their lessons with me, and the curriculum at Haas reinforced this. In the entrepreneurship class, we learned about the human biases or errors made in setting up businesses. Entrepreneurs visited and talked about both successes and failures.

Being a successful entrepreneur forces you to collaborate. If I look at all the successful entrepreneurs I've met, they are people who are very good at collaborating and taking feedback from others who are skilled at areas they don't know well.

The most important thing I learned about leadership is that good leaders know what their shortcomings are. You also have to be good at receiving feedback rather than just giving it.

Choosing an MBA in the Bay Area

Coming from London, I loved the entrepreneurial spirit here, along with the proximity to Silicon Valley. The biggest advantage I had at Haas was a connection to the tech industry. My mentors from Haas helped me navigate the industry here, and with their guidance I got to interact with people working at exciting local companies on an almost-daily basis.

I stayed in the Bay Area for personal and professional reasons. Professionally, if I set out to do my own venture, this is the most innovative part of the world, with diversity unlike what I've experienced anywhere else. Personally, I love the access to the outdoors and culture—and I met my girlfriend at Haas, who is from the Bay Area.

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