Matthew Mottola MS & # 39; 17 started chasing a problem in 2013. Why do so many people hate work, and why does it have such a negative stigma? He became obsessed with this problem and worked tirelessly until he found a solution.
Mottola started what he would later understand was a freelancer when he was just a freshman in college. "I would like to make business plans for people, financial models," he said. "He paid me better than an ice cream shop". Mottola was a consulting company with one man, and he loved it.
He thought of this job as an extension of how he could help people, and then he realized that what he was really doing was starting his freelance business. This work helped pay for college, and that's what led him to Babson for graduate school.
Mottola wanted a program that would allow him to concentrate on building his business. Babson's Master of Science in Entrepreneurial Leadership (MSEL) was the perfect solution.
"I chose Babson instead of going to an accelerator," said Mottola. He knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur, and Babson was the place he wanted to be.
LEAP in Business
All MSEL students follow a required experiential course called the Learning Entrepreneurial Action Project (LEAP). Mottola has used LEAP as an opportunity to launch the business idea it had created, a platform that connects freelance students to businesses through project-based work.
Translating his freelance experience on this platform, Mottola believed he could contribute to accelerating the career of students. The platform offered every student the opportunity to acquire real-world skills, learn what they wanted to do after graduation and have tangible experiences to put into their curriculum.
"Freelance was the reason I joined Babson. I presented myself with a portfolio of my freelance projects, along with a sketch of the business I wanted to create, and fortunately they let me in," said Mottola. "I truly believe that Babson would not have accepted me without this experience. I wanted my platform to translate the opportunity that freelance offered me and made it accessible for other students and for whatever they were shooting."
During his program, Mottola devoted all his time to building the platform. "At Babson, I learned to identify a problem and find the cheapest and fastest way to make it possible." He used his professors, his colleagues and the many resources of Babson to build his solution.
Approaching the degree with a dwindling bank account and uncertainty in his future, Mottola realized that he may not be the right person to achieve his original goal of improving work. "Babson was phenomenal in giving me the picture for the question, & # 39; Why me?"Why was he the right person to build this platform and solve this problem?
At this point in time, it was not. Mottola knew he lacked the technical skills to carry his idea forward. He turned to his next opportunity: a job in San Francisco at Gigster, the direct competitor for the platform he was building.
Power of the Pivot
Mottola started Gigster's lowest possible sales role, offering him a golden opportunity to listen to customers' weaknesses. "I would have taken a job as an office manager, because I just wanted to talk to customers," he said. Although he was full-time at the Gigster, Mottola had not abandoned his platform. He used the opinions and feedback of Gigster's customers to improve his solution, with the ultimate goal of making mainstream freelance.
After nine months of work for Gigster, Microsoft contacted Mottola to take his freelance work to their corporate environment.
At the beginning he was hesitant. "I was afraid of losing my entrepreneurial roots," said Mottola. "I loved Silicon Valley. It looked like a giant Babson, where everyone tries to change the world. I was afraid to leave that environment."
But, after meeting the Microsoft team, seeing the changes that CEO Satya Nadella led within the company, and reflecting on Microsoft's potential in the freelance space, Mottola realized that this was the next ideal step of your journey.
"In this sector, there is a problem of supply and demand – a group of freelancers who love their jobs and companies that want to engage themselves as freelancers. The basis for linking these two at the corporate level was missing. It struck me the fact that Microsoft was the main player to solve this problem. "
The first thing Mottola did to Microsoft was to turn all the walls of his office into customer travel maps, a design thinking tool that he took away from Babson. This allowed him to see weaknesses and prioritize which features were most important to customers when launching and resizing freelance programs. From these characteristics, he led an interfunctional team to develop the tools, models and best practices prepared by Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit for companies to start and scale freelance programs.
"Everything needed to launch this product was a reflection of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®," said Mottola. "From the leadership skills I've worked with all the different types of people, to the agile structures to identify real problems and drive solutions, I owe everything to Babson."
Mottola has taken its entrepreneurial mindset and used it to stimulate change in one of the largest companies in the world. He used his Babson upbringing to innovate from within – and ultimately solved the problem he had pursued throughout his career.
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