Matt Hartman graduated from the Kellogg School of Management with an MBA, a knack for technology, and a desire to start a business that changes the game.
His new app, JustBecause, just might do that for small businesses looking to acquire new customers. Written up in TechCrunch as a “no brainer” for small companies, Hartman answered a few more questions about entrepreneurship from a young age and how business school helped him shore up some of the things he didn’t know about startups before he landed on his Big Idea.
What does your company do, and how did you get the idea?
JustBecause lets people send gifts for less, while discovering and sharing exciting new products and services. Gifts cost $1 and are worth $10-100 – e.g., a free Uber ride up to $20, a Betabrand t-shirt, or $15 to spend at the Birchbox online store.
I got the idea while working on another company, ReferBoost, which helped create incentives for people to share their apartments online. We had the real estate properties pay for gift cards and I realized that there were some companies that were willing to give away gift cards as a customer acquisition tool. Uber Chicago and Birchbox were early partners in validating that there were lots of early stage companies that would want to get the word out about their products and services through gift-giving.
Company Name: Just Because
Website: www.justbecauseapp.com (to download the iPhone app)
Business School Affiliation: Kellogg School of Management
Please describe your product/service: JustBecause is an iPhone application that lets you send gifts to friends that cost $1 but are worth way more – like a $20 ride on Uber, a t-shirt from Betabrand, or $15 to spend at Birchbox. Our early partners include Warby Parker, Trunk Club, Birchbox, Betabrand, Uber, Bespoke Post, GetMaid, Tie Society.
Main competitors: Wrapp, Embly, Boomerang
Launch Date: September 2012
Management Team: Matthew Hartman, Founder
Did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur before you started business school?
Yes. I’ve always enjoyed starting businesses. Before I could drive, I started a food delivery service to my local pool, as well as a web consulting business in high school to build websites for small businesses. My goal with business school was to understand the different aspects of high growth, scalable businesses and to learn how to innovate on both product and business model.
What resources did you use at business school?
I was part of the Kellogg Entrepreneurs Organization (KEO), took the interdisciplinary NUvention innovation class, and participated in Kellogg’s Venture Lab. Those are just a few resources I used at school, but they were extraordinarily impactful. I also went into the career office practically every other week my first year to make sure I got the perfect internship to teach me to do what I wanted to do. While I didn’t find my summer internship through career services, their advice was invaluable.
What was the best advice you received while at business school?
Take the job that seems the most scary/challenging/exciting. For my summer internship, that was joining a consumer-facing startup (which ended up being acquired by Facebook while I was there). After school, that meant starting my own company.
What is your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs or MBA applicants interested in entrepreneurship?
Just do it. It’s so tempting to take a job or to say “I’ll do it later” to entrepreneurship. Taking the leap was really scary for me, but I can’t imagine having done anything else.
Anything else you’d like to add?
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