Mitch Kirby is co-founder and CEO of TransparentCareer, a cutting-edge career management platform used by 40% of all current US-based MBAs.
Frustrated by a lack of hard data on post-MBA salaries and jobs, Mitch came up with the idea for TransparentCareer during a class at Chicago Booth.
He co-founded his new business with his MBA colleague Kevin Marvinac in 2015, and took the idea through Chicago Booth’s New Venture Challenge (NVC), an accelerator program which has helped to fund over 140 successful businesses.
Today, TransparentCareer provides students from over 2,500 business schools globally with detailed company data on salaries and career paths, helping MBAs – as well as undergrads and master’s students – benchmark their salaries, get fair pay, plan their careers, and land their dream jobs after graduation.
Mitch sacrificed high-salary jobs to take the career triple jump - changing role, industry, and location - after his MBA. He worked in healthcare consulting in New York before business school. In 2014, he chose Chicago Booth over Wharton for his MBA. He hasn’t looked back since.
How did the idea to start TransparentCareer come about?
When I was entering my second year at Booth, I was still unsure what career path I wanted to pursue. I was interviewing with a few different companies, but didn't want to get to the end of the process and find out that the compensation was significantly lower than my expectations or that the role didn't really fit.
Glassdoor was too impersonal and noisy to be useful. I thought there had to be a better way. Luckily, at the same time, I was taking a Ruby on Rails application development class with Raghu Betina at Booth and used this pain point as my project in the class.
TransparentCareer was born as a way for everyone to share their job offers anonymously with each other and rate their experiences with different companies. We ended up entering the New Venture Challenge at Booth, which became instrumental to our growth and ultimately our ability to raise funding for the company.
Where are you at right now with your business? What do you hope to achieve?
As of now, 40% of all current US MBA students use TransparentCareer and we've launched the new and improved platform to bring the same benefits to other degree programs and working professionals, primarily in business and technology careers.
We raised an $850K seed round in August led by Hyde Park Angels, with participation from many leading Chicago VCs including Origin Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners, OCA Ventures, and The Pritzker Group.
Now, we are rapidly trying to grow the data set and user base outside of the MBA world and are beginning to build in tools so that employers can connect with the best MBA talent through our platform. The next six months are going to be wild!
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Chicago Booth?
When I was deciding to go to business school, I was really worried that it would be too fluffy and, as a result, I'd leave having not gained any material skills. I didn't want to just be another MBA who couldn't actually do anything besides make PowerPoint decks!
What appealed to me about Booth was its academic rigor and culture of intellectual curiosity. Once at Booth, the ability to take classes in machine learning, advanced regression, and software development gave me tangible skills that supplemented the other softer skills like management.
I didn't know it at the time, but Booth's incredible entrepreneurial ecosystem was a big plus and I was blown away by how smart, fun, open, and fundamentally good-hearted the student body was. I actually chose Booth over Wharton. This was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, but I couldn't be happier with my choice.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
When getting an MBA, it is extremely easy to take the easy path and follow the herd. The most important thing you can do leading up to the MBA is to truly understand what makes you happy at work. Is it working on hard quantitative problems? Is it working with a team? Is it being creative? Then, it’s about finding which jobs and companies fit those characteristics.
Would you be where you are today without the Chicago Booth MBA?
There is a zero percent chance I would be running my own company right now without Chicago Booth and without getting my MBA. Because I focused on entrepreneurship, it greatly prepared me for understanding venture capital fundraising, accounting, management, advanced statistics, and a bunch of other skills that I use on a regular basis. All in all, Chicago Booth was instrumental in the founding and early success of the company, and we owe a lot to the resources that were provided by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship.