Learning to Balance: The Founders of Oystar

  • Season 3, Episode 9
  • April 4, 2023
  • 41 minute listen

Learning to Balance: The Founders of Oystar

There's a lot of learnings I get from the day job. Things I've learned from great leaders and things I wish were done differently.

The Big Idea

How do we apply cross-functional skills to master the unknown of startup life?

Episode Description

Arguably, the four consultants in our story have already weathered their share of pivotal moments. They’ve navigated a full-time MBA program, coursework across three continents in six weeks and a global pandemic halfway through their studies.

Indeed, all that may have prepared them for the professional path they’ve taken. All four work full-time as consultants. They’re also co-founders of Oystar, a student-driven platform to improve and expand university recruiting. “We're better at being comfortable with the inconsistency of what we're working on,” said Lungile Tshuma, a consultant at World Wide Technology. “We've learned how to be more comfortable with adjusting.”

But that convergence of ambition might be tossing the most meaningful moments across their paths in a series of small, pivotal moments as they skip back and forth between managing their startup and managing their day jobs. “Something we learn in our real jobs we can quickly apply to our startup,” Tshuma said. “And it goes both ways.”

The foursome—all 2021 Olin MBA grads—includes Tshuma, Kevin Ko, Tim Brandt and Abhinav Gabbeta. As professional consultants, they’ve quickly learned how to refine a presentation deck for their big clients—and adapted that skill to showcase their startup.

They’ve run across challenging leadership personalities—learning what kind of leader they want to be ... and don’t want to be. They’ve watched how their big clients depend on Agile development practices—and adopted them at Oystar. They’ve mastered multitasking across four time zones. They’ve learned to trust each other—so they don’t all have to attend every meeting with advisors, potential funders and their intern team.

In this edition of On Principle, our roundtable conversation with Tshuma, Gabbeta, Ko and Brandt examine the small pivotal moments in the life of a business leader—and the high impact those moments ultimately yield.

Related Links


This podcast is a production of Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School. Contributors include:

  • Katie Wools, Cathy Myrick, Judy Milanovits and Lesley Liesman, creative assistance
  • Jill Young Miller, fact checking and creative assistance
  • Hayden Molinarolo, original music and sound design
  • Mike Martin Media, editing
  • Sophia Passantino, social media
  • Lexie O'Brien and Erik Buschardt, website support
  • Paula Crews, creative vision and strategic support

Special thanks to Ray Irving and his team at WashU Olin’s Center for Digital Education, including our audio engineer, Austin Alred.

Additional information

Please subscribe on your favorite podcasting app to be notified when each new episode of On Principle is available.