I enrolled in Building Entrepreneurial Ventures (BEV) to get a sense of what it means to be an entrepreneur before I graduate and begin a career in finance. BEV is an experiential learning class at Tuck taught by serial entrepreneur Daniella Reichstetter T’07—executive director of entrepreneurship at the Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship, founder of Gyrobike, and an early hire at Method, Jetboil, and Belcampo—which is designed to help Tuck students found startups. Along with two of my classmates, Lars Matkin T’18 and Andrew D’Ignazio T’18, I started a company called NATOA, an online-based concierge outdoor gear maintenance service for the Dartmouth community.
"BEV provided me with a much better framework for launching a successful business and I gained real-world experience grappling with the many challenges of launching a startup," says Davis.
The course was structured to mimic an “incubator-model” with weekly pitches we presented to and received feedback from our classmates, visiting entrepreneurs and investors, followed by sequential lectures designed to help bring our ideas to fruition. This advice and the lectures helped us focus NATOA and develop a differentiated and valuable (hopefully) service that was missing for most Dartmouth students. Daniella provided us with weekly feedback and recommendations based on her experience starting and advising early-stage companies. She also brought in an impressive group of entrepreneurs and early-stage investors to share their experience and advise us on the do’s and don’ts of entrepreneurship. During the course we were also paired with a mentor, Daniel Philip D’03, T’12, founder of Outfittr, an outdoor gear rental company that has a lot in common with NATOA. Daniel helped us develop our subscription-based payment model and guided us through key decisions around the logistics of pick-up and delivery.
One of the highlights of the course for me was Demo Night where we presented our minimal viable product—which for us was our website—to the Dartmouth community. I was also really impressed by my classmates’ demos—they were launching everything from a drone delivery company to an online bikini site designed for “all body types.” It was also a great way for us to get feedback on our idea from both potential customers and entrepreneurs. The positive feedback we received from this event was the catalyst for us to launch our business.
BEV provided me with a much better framework for launching a successful business and I gained real-world experience grappling with the many challenges of launching a startup. We also had the opportunity to truly be entrepreneurs for the year. We plan to continue our business throughout our time at Tuck, and hopefully pass it onto the T’19s. This was particularly valuable for me because I would eventually like to start and manage my own business and the opportunity to gain exposure to what that means and get advice from real-world practitioners was incredibly helpful.
If you want to learn more about our business, find us at natoagear.com! We’re excited to be helping our classmates keep their gear in shape so they can maximize their time in the Upper Valley.