Hult Alumni Entrepreneurs

Discover the inspiration, challenges and advice from Hult entrepreneurs across industries and nations. If you know of a company founded by a Hult alumni that would like to be featured, let us know at alumniaffairs(at)hult.edu

Alumni Entrepreneurs

  • James Whittaker, 2013 MBA

    BossFit, Australia

    BossFit was started in 2012 by James Whittaker (Hult MBA graduate, Boston 2013) and close friend Jonathon Snape. James and Jonathon are both Australians who shared a strong passion for the fitness craze CrossFit and, more generally, how healthy living looked like something that was here to stay rather than just a "fad". Using fitness as a conduit to motivate people to achieve excellence in all areas of their lives, "BossFit" was born. It started out as a social media brand on Facebook, before expanding to Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest after that. When the concept continued to grow, YouTube and Google+ accounts quickly followed.

    In July 2014, the company had 33,000 Facebook fans. Since then, the BossFit community has grown, now boasting over 150,000 fans across its numerous social media platforms, including 107,000 on Facebook alone (at time of writing).

    In June 2014 James and Jonathon opened their first ever performance facility, a 13,000 square foot CrossFit and weightlifting gym in Brisbane, Australia, one of the largest of its kind in the world. Branded as two separate entities under the one roof "CrossFit Torian" and the "Brisbane Barbell Club", both powered by BossFit, they sought out the most elite people to truly put the gym on the map. Their efforts paid off and the gym now has four Olympic Games athletes, and one Olympic Games coach, on the staff. The official open day was attended by more than 500 people, including world class athletes Chad Mackay and Ruth Anderson Horrell who flew in from Sydney and Las Vegas, respectively, for the event.

    James and Jonathon have been busy focusing on their next moves, which include creating a full apparel line and launching a comprehensive website to grow the community exponentially. For the website, they've been able to put together a team of 20 people from around the world to cover all areas of health and fitness, including CrossFit, weightlifting, extreme sports, military, yoga, nutrition and more. More than 30 interviews have been conducted with notable athletes and personalities, and will be released when the site goes live in late 2014.

    It has not all been smooth sailing. James has been living in Los Angeles since he completed Hult's MBA program in Boston, and the time difference and separation from Jonathon, still in Australia, has been difficult. However, California is very much the epicenter of fitness and has enabled BossFit to forge partnerships with well-known athletes. Trying to run as lean as possible has also been a challenge. Being fully aware that they need to keep fixed expenses to a minimum, they've been doing everything possible to build their community organically.

    Issues around copyrighting have meant the brand has been plagued by imitators trying to capitalize on their name. Because of this, a name change in the medium term is likely. James and Jonathon credit this as their biggest lesson in two years: get your trademark sorted before you go to market.

    Having this concept prior to beginning the MBA program meant James was able to use it as a test case throughout the year. James cites two courses at Hult as particularly influential:

    - Strategic Brand Management with Professor Marco Protano
    - Entrepreneurship: New Business Venturing with Professor Mike Grandinetti

    These two courses brought home the reality that an entrepreneurial journey can be successfully undertaken for anyone who takes the time to understand their product, the market and the operating environment. Acting strategically, rather than on emotion, can be the difference between those who make it and those who don't.

    Daily conversations with classmates also served as motivation to dream big and give it everything. The global community at Hult is one of the biggest attractions, especially in the exciting metropolis of Boston (and on rotation in Shanghai), and James still frequently keeps in touch with his Hult friends.

    While still in its infancy, BossFit has carved out a strong niche in the fitness community and looks well positioned to grow its fan base as its product range expands.

  • Dennis Vichikov, 2010 MBA

    Hang Ten Games, Ukraine

    Hang Ten Games (Ukraine) creates casual adventure games for PC and mobile.

    “We create casual adventure games for PC and mobile. I came up with the idea to start my own game dev studio after having a terrible day at work in a private equity company where I felt like a slave. The words of one of my professors came into my head: "Can't find your dream job? Create it." And I did. I followed my heart and started this hard and exciting venture. The plans are big! We are about to publish our first game and have a few more in the pipeline.”

    “I started this company almost immediately after graduation. I had to have a few jobs to support myself and my family as a financial analyst in California and when the time was right I fully immersed myself into work at the studio. I was able to secure an investment from an angel investor out of London that I med during my time at Hult. So, my company is a direct result of my MBA time at Hult London.”

  • Josep Maria Niubo Marti, 2007 MBA

    Lotus Bonita, Myanmar

    Lotus Bonita (Myanamar) is a travel company with a Spanish flavor based in Myanmar and providing extraordinary travel experiences.

    “It is true that setting up a company is not easy, and that there's no real guide to doing it right, however, despite all the hardships, it is definitely worth it. The feeling of being your own boss, while it often implies being stricter with yourself than another boss would be, is a really nice one. It's not about money, it´s about freedom, because freedom is priceless!

    Your initial business plan may be useful as a guide, but often in reality, flexibility and the redefining of ideas is required. It's all about learning by doing, there´s no real guide to be successful, being humble and accepting that we may have to modify our initial business idea along the way may be advisable.

    Take uncertainty as a chance to challenge yourself and define your future. As the Chinese say ‘Nothing is easy, but everything is possible.’ So don't be afraid, trust yourself, never give up, and make it happen!”

  • Marianna Rescia, 2011 MBA

    Nais , United Arab Emirates

    Nais (U.A.E) is an Italian restaurant concept in Dubai with a focus on local and family recipes.

    “My advice for Hult grads looking to set up their own business is have a lot of passion, love the challenge, keep it simple, and work hard. Your business will become your whole life so make sure you have family, friends, and loved ones very close for daily comfort and distraction.”