Last week, we welcomed our final Lunch-n-Learn guest of the year, Michael Horvath.
Our most packed lunch of the semester likely had something to do with Michael’s biggest claim to fame—his role in the founding of Strava. But to students’ delight, Michael dug deeper into his career and his learnings from over its course.
Michael’s colorful career started with an interest in economics, earning degrees in the subject from both Northwestern and Harvard University. From there, he taught both economics and entrepreneurship at Stanford and Dartmouth, respectively. Michael went on to be the CFO of a biotech startup and the cofounder of an enterprise software firm before founding Strava with a friend.
Through his diverse background, Michael shared his insights on a-traditional career paths, explaining that he’s always kept an open perspective and enjoyed having multiple different careers in his life. Seemingly his learnings from each venture have aided in the huge success of his most current, as Strava continues to open more offices nationwide.
In addition, Michael talked about the challenges of knowing when to step aside and let a company you founded grow—and when you need to jump back in. Michael’s been Strava’s CEO, Chairman and President, and most recently sat as its acting CFO while helping the company achieve new stages of growth.
As with every Lunch-n-Learn, founders have the opportunity to propose a challenge or workshop to students in attendance. For his, Michael tasked students with a tangible example from Strava—knowing how to delegate available funds for a new fiscal year. Students had to decide whether to focus on growing the company’s user base or on monetization of the platform. In either scenario, financial projections looked grim, posing a unique challenge to think through for a group comprised of both engineers and business undergraduate and graduate students.
The Deming Center is looking forward to 2019’s Lunch-n-Learns, when we’ll have a new trio of speakers—and a new set of problems for students to work through over a lively lunch with a guest!