EP 10: Finding a Recipe for Success in Business and VC


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When she hit a roadblock in her career, this future VC enrolled in Kellogg’s top-tier Executive MBA Program and ended up with a successful business and a career in an entirely new industry. (Listen) Episode Summary: Mellie Chow hit her limit as a successful IT consultant and wanted a change. Unsure if she needed to develop new skills or just get into a new environment, she enrolled in an EMBA program that gave her both. Now, a few years later, Mellie is an angel investor, venture capitalist, and co-founder of The Revolving Kitchen. She's also on the Investment Committee at Purple Arch Ventures, a venture capital fund that enables alums from Northwestern to invest in ventures connected to fellow alums. In this podcast, Mellie shares her journey as a "shifter" and why people at Purple Arch call her "the triple threat." Subscribe to Founders and Funders on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, and Android Podcast Players. Introducing Mellie Chow Mellie Chow is a digital and strategy consultant with more than 15 years experience. She's passionate about working with technology entrepreneurs to help their businesses reach full potential. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to early stage tech startups, and her industry experience includes telecommunications, media, high tech, utilities and power generation, financial services, healthcare, and public sector. Mellie holds a Bachelor of Science and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo and a Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University. Mellie is also an ambassador for Purple Arch Ventures (PAV), a venture fund that pools capital from Northwestern alums to invest in companies with Wildcat connections. PAV is led by former Northwestern football team member David Beazley, who serves as Managing Partner. Side note: You can listen to this podcast with David Beazley to learn how former Wildcats are using their capital to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem for Northwestern alums. Three Takeaways from This Podcast Mellie Chow had a successful IT consulting career with plenty of latitude to create the business and practice she wanted. But she reached a point where she couldn't grow the business further and didn't know why. In a moment of reflection, she asked herself, "Am I missing tools in my toolbox? Or is it generally the infrastructure I'm in?" At that point, Mellie decided to go back to school to get an executive MBA at Kellogg. This move, she says, "was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life because it allowed me to make the career transition ... from IT technology consulting to venture capital." In addition to getting involved in VC, she and a co-founder started a business that wouldn't have materialized had Mellie not decided to further her education. When Schulich launched a venture project as part of a capstone requirement to graduate, Mellie and a classmate came up with The Revolving Kitchen, a digital marketplace to help food entrepreneurs connect with commercial kitchen spaces. The team got voted "most likely to succeed" and eventually won second place at Schulich's Start-Up Night. In this interview, Mellie shares the pivots she made en route to finding success in the marketplace, along with her advice on how to pitch a business to venture capitalists. Three takeaways: 1. Failure is inevitable Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Mellie's parents taught her to dream big, to make adjustments, and to keep trying when failure occurs. As an entrepreneur herself, Mellie believes this mindset is essential to being successful. She says, "The natural state of any business is not to exist. So the fact that you are going after something, it's kind of like going against all odds." If you can learn to deal with failure on an almost daily basis, she adds, "then you will find the gem you are looking for." 2. You have to find the haystack

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