Evening MBA program
I was born in Russia and studied engineering at a university in Moscow. I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. But at the time, about ten years ago, you had to be very brave to start a company in Russia because of organized crime. If you succeeded, mobsters might come after you for "royalties."
After graduation I moved to the U.S., joining my father in Portland, Maine. I worked as a software engineer, and in 2002, I started an online gift and flower business in my spare hours (goodchoiceflowers.com).
I knew I needed polish, so I enrolled in Babson's evening MBA program. I kept my full-time job and continued to work on my startup, mostly on weekends. Two nights a week I drove two hours each way from Portland to the campus outside Boston for classes. There were two things I hoped to get out of Babson. First, I wanted to become a better salesperson. Growing up in Russia, I had always heard that America had the greatest sales culture. I also wanted to do some networking.
I achieved both goals. A course on professional selling was one of my favorites. I learned that you help people make buying decisions rather than forcing a sale on them. I also met my current business partner, Brian Goss, in my very first class. He and I teamed up to start On-site Videos (onsitevideos.com), a service that enables a company to feature a virtual spokesperson on its website. Onsite will have close to $2 million in sales this year. We have some prestigious clients, such as Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills. I still own the online flower business, but now someone else runs it.