Murtaza Bambot, a fourth-year undergraduate in Georgia Tech’s Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) is passionate about entrepreneurship because, he says, with startups, “I get to define my own rules for success. In classes and in school, success is defined by your GPA. With startups, you get to choose where you want to improve the world, and you get the opportunity to run toward it. You don't need experience or a strong background in business -- you need passion and an insane amount of determination, and after that everything else falls into place.
“That's always enchanted me because it means that I can start helping people and start building something useful even as a 21-year-old. I don't have to put in time, wait my turn on the corporate ladder, and then work on cool projects when I'm 40 -- I can do them today!”
Originally Bambot was planning to pursue what he describes as “the typical Indian kid route: go to college for engineering, go to med school, and become a doctor.” But through the strong encouragement of his parents, he enrolled in the TYE entrepreneurship program his senior year of high school and got hooked.
In this interview, Bambot talks about his leadership development through Georgia Tech’s business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi), as well as the idea for and development of InternBlitz, the startup for which Bambot and his partner are 2017 InVenture Prize finalists.
You were president of Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPSi) business fraternity. What have you learned from holding this position of responsibility?
Much of my leadership experience was cultivated in AKPsi. As president, I managed the fraternity of 70 people, oversaw our $80,000 annual budget, and made decisions to help enrich the college experiences of hundreds of students around campus. The biggest thing I learned from my time as president is how to operate in a field of enormous uncertainty: As president of an organization, there isn't really anyone that you can go to when things go wrong. Of course, there are people that can give you advice, but in the end, you're the one with the most experience in the areas that you're working in, and you're the one who has to make the final decisions. And even after you've made those decisions, you still have no way of knowing if you've made the right decision.
Serving as president of AKPsi is what made me the most comfortable in running my own company. I learned that with all the uncertainty, the best way to succeed is to craft a vision that you truly believe in, rally everyone around your cause, and execute as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Another major thing that I got out of serving as president of AKPsi was learning how to sell. During my term, the fraternity was extremely short on money, and we were pulling pennies from couch cushions to make ends meet. One of the biggest initiatives I undertook was building out a sustainable corporate sponsorship program to help fund the events we held. We sat down with sales people around Atlanta and learned what enterprise sales processes looked like and worked to gear them toward corporate sponsorship.
Over the next year, we raised over $45,000, selling sponsorships to recruiters at companies like Salesloft, Capital One, Equifax, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and many more. Now, AKPsi continues to raise about $50,000 annually through corporate sponsorship.
Developing this program helped develop the sales skills I'd need to bring on a team and align them towards a vision. It also made me confident in knowing that once we'd built a product, we'd be able to figure out how to sell it to recruiters and turn InternBlitz into a true business.
You and your partner, Nathan Dass (CS 2017), are one of the six finalist teams for this year’s InVenture Prize. You were chosen for your creation, InternBlitz, which you describe as the “common application for internships.” Tell us a little more about InternBlitz and what it is, and how you came up with the idea for it.
I was looking for internships last spring, so I applied to 125 different internships. With every application, I kept entering in the same information over and over -- I knew there had to be a faster way to get this done.
With InternBlitz, you build a profile with your name, email, and resume, and every internship you apply for on InternBlitz is prefilled with that information. That way, you only have to answer questions like "Why do you want to work at this company?” or “What are your location preferences?”
The goal was to create a platform that would allow students to send out internship applications ridiculously fast so they could spend more time prepping for interviews and learning about companies instead of just filling out the same information on forms over and over.
As we continue to build, we're also creating a machine-learning component to help students find the right internships more easily. Just as Netflix recommends movies to you based off what you've watched, InternBlitz will be able to recommend internships to you based on your profile, where you've applied, and what companies are looking for.
With InternBlitz, we're hoping to simplify recruiting. Our end goal is to have people send out fewer applications but get more interviews.
What would winning the InVenture Prize mean for InternBlitz?
InVenture gives us $20K if we win. With that money, we'd be able to do three things:
Do you see yourself continuing as an entrepreneur after graduating?
Definitely! Ideally, I'd like to work on InternBlitz full-time when I graduate.
If that doesn't work out, my hope is leave college and work with an early-stage software startup. I'd like to jump into a sales role (hopefully the second or third sales hire into the company) and help define the company's initial sales strategy, and then help them scale and grow out the sales team over three to five years.