A journey around Orbit: How the League of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs lifted a startup

  • June 7, 2024
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 3 minute read

I faced an overwhelming set of challenges navigating the MBA application process, a struggle shared by many others in the process.

This experience inspired me to solve this problem. I started a small business in India called MBA Notion, which helped more than 100 students get into top MBA programs.

Satya Bhowmik, MBA 2023, wrote this for the Olin Blog about his experience in Doug Villhard’s course, The League of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs.

When we joined the League of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs class with this consulting business, our goal was to raise funding and scale. However, we were limited by our business model, which was based on one-on-one coaching services. In 2023, with the emergence of generative artificial intelligence and my background as a software engineer, I saw an opportunity to disrupt the outdated admissions consulting industry.

This vision led to the creation of Orbit, an AI-powered, self-serve college admission guidance platform. Orbit acts as an online DIY admission consultant, helping students find the perfect-fit college, connect with current students and alumni, and use custom AI tools to prepare and review application materials, among other features.

Orbit’s mission is to make access to education more equitable. We believe that everyone deserves to find the right fit. This opens many opportunities for Orbit in other industries.

What is the League?

The League is an advanced entrepreneurship class at WashU Olin, designed to bring together students from various schools and programs, resulting in diverse teams that offer excellent contributions and learning opportunities. It functions as an accelerator program with the primary goal of scaling a business. The class combines:

  • Classroom pedagogy
  • Peer-to-peer learning
  • Hands-on exercises and presentations
  • Speaker series and reflections
  • Real VC presentations and feedback

Doug Villhard, professor of practice in entrepreneurship and head of the entrepreneurship program at Olin, often said, "Fall in love with the problem," and so we did. We genuinely love helping classmates navigate the application process.

Who were the speakers in the class?

  • Andrew Rubin, CEO of Illumio
  • Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear
  • Lori Coulter, CEO/founder of Summersalt
  • Chuck Cohn, founder and CEO of Nerdy
  • Luke Saunders, founder and CEO of Farmer's Fridge
  • Pryce Yebesi, founder of Utopia Labs
  • Eliana Eskinazi, founder of Wagr
  • Aaron Samuels, founder and managing partner of Collide Capital
  • Ari Lewine, founder of TripleLift

What were your significant learnings?

  • Fall in love with the customer's problem because the problem will remain constant, while the solution will evolve and change over time.
  • Organization and people management are crucial aspects of running a startup.
  • Finding the right co-founder for your business is the single most important decision you will make.
  • VCs often know very little about operations and industry specifics, so find the right investor who has the best intentions for your company. The best investments often come from your customers.
  • Storytelling and numbers are essential in a pitch to investors. Simplicity, market size, and industry trends matter. Traction is very important.
  • Set the right goals, keep them to a minimum, and achieve them at all costs.
  • Bringing passion to your startup enlivens it and gives it a greater purpose that inspires people.

What was so special about the experience?

We all need someone who believes in us unwaveringly. For me, that person is Jerry Rosen, BFA 1980, and WashU "investor in residence," my mentor from the League class. During our first meeting, our conversation was a perfect blend of hope, positivity, excitement and execution. Jerry believed in me and my idea, and much of what Orbit has become can be traced back to that interaction and the momentum it created. Jerry serves as the mentor for Orbit.

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Guest Blogger

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