Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice

Dartmouth College: Tuck - Entrepreneurship Club

President of Tuck's Entrepreneurship Club, Isabella Liu, says the best start-up ideas are in the food-tech industry

Isabella Liu, previously an investment banker, decided to do an MBA to develop her soft skills and contacts. Now President of Tuck's Entrepreneurship Club, she tells us her plans and reservations for her start-up in the tech industry.

What is your club’s main aim this year?

The Tuck Entrepreneurship Club has three goals: to help Tuckies succeed in the startup ecosystem, today and in the future; provide guidance and structure for an entrepreneurship-focused path at Tuck; and foster and support a Tuck entrepreneurship community.

Who was the most exciting speaker you had this year?

In the past, the Entrepreneurship Club organizes on-the-ground programming, such as skills workshops and idea whiteboarding. At Tuck, the Entrepreneurship Initiative brings in lots of great speakers, often as part of the Entrepreneur-in-Residence series. Going forward, the Entrepreneurship Club would like to also bring speakers to campus who are a bit younger.

Why did you decide to do an MBA?

I have always wanted to get an MBA. However, my goals coming to Tuck (and why I chose Tuck) were to develop my soft skills and to create a personalized curriculum and path towards launching a company after business school.

In terms of soft skills, I wanted to better understand how people perceive me and how I can be a more effective communicator and leader. I also wanted to identify the core skills that I lack and find others with those skills who can complement me.

What do you think is the key to entrepreneurial success?

I think the key to entrepreneurial success is understanding what makes your vision special and sticking to it. There will always be other players offering a similar product, but whatever you bring is what will differentiate your company from those who are not keyed into their vision.

It’s good to get VCs' [venture capitalists] and other entrepreneurs’ feedback, but I think a vision is a vision and sometimes it can’t be fully understood or appreciated by others until it is realized and taking off.

What area of business do you think is best to start up in as an entrepreneur at the moment?

I am currently pursuing tech and kind of kicking myself for it. I think the fact that every ex-banker (myself included), ex-consultant, and Ivy League grad is chasing a job in tech is a lagging indicator that a tech bubble is building up.

Just like when household investors are eagerly buying up a stock, you know that at this point that stock is overvalued.

I think the area of business to start up in is food, but early along the value chain. People are only becoming more concerned about the origins and nature of the food they consume that the industry will increasingly command a larger percentage of our spending.

I’ve been trying to tell Tuck to position itself as the business school leading in this area (agriculture and food tech), since we’re surrounded by local farms and have a rich history of farming.

Is it true that in an open capitalist market, funds will always be available for good projects?

It depends how you define ‘good’. I think there are inefficiencies everywhere - including in an open market. In theory, the most valuable projects should get funded first, and value can be defined in many ways from investors’ internal rate of return to public good.

Unfortunately, I think the reality is more complicated, and it is not always true that good projects get funded. There are many reasons why that’s the case but one example is that the founder doesn’t fit the typical founder profile, and doesn’t resonate with VC investors.