This Spotlight series highlights different Anderson students and alumni to learn about their experiences at UCLA Anderson and beyond.
Pallavi Patil graduated from the UCLA Anderson full-time MBA program in 2013. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pallavi received a B.S. in Finance from NYU. Prior to beginning Anderson, she was a Distressed Credit Fund Associate and entered business school to help her transition to an entrepreneurial career. Since graduating from Anderson, Pallavi has embarked on multiple entrepreneurial ventures and just currently launched her newest company, Lark Adventurewear.
Q. What inspired you to pursue an MBA?
Deciding to go to business school was a tough decision, especially because I was interested in an non-traditional career path. Ultimately, I thought that the 2 years invested to get my MBA would be a great opportunity to develop skillsets that I didn’t possess (marketing and operations) so that I would be more equipped to start a successful venture.
Q. Why did you choose UCLA Anderson?
I chose Anderson because I was really impressed with their flexible “choose your own path” approach to getting an MBA. I had gone to an undergraduate business school with a solid reputation and majored in Finance, so I was looking for a school where I could really focus on courses and experiences in areas where I needed to build a skillset to establish a new career.
I think UCLA Anderson is such a great environment. Coming from a very competitive industry (finance/hedge funds) I was really looking for a collaborative environment where the student body empowers each other. Having a strong network is essential. While starting my newest venture, Lark Adventurewear, I’ve been overwhelmed by support by my classmates at Anderson. Regardless of the career path you choose, this supportive network will always be asset.
Q. How did the coursework help you with your entrepreneurial passions?
I loved "Business Plan Development". Not only was I able to start my own venture during business school, I also helped a fellow classmate develop his business plan during this class. Our professor, Matt Ridenour, was a Venture Capitalist so he was able to convey exactly what investors in the “real world” were looking for and how to pitch. I appreciate that the class wasn’t just an academic exercise. Our final presentations were in front of other real VCs. So again, very practical knowledge for my next career move!
Q. Outside of the classroom, how were you involved at Anderson?
I was the President of Marketing Association and also on the board of Anderson Wine Club. Although I was very focused on starting own company, it was very important that I developed tangible marketing skills to foray into a brand management position as a plan b if my own venture didn’t work out.
The Entrepreneurial Leadership Development Program (ELDP), a unique program for entrepreneurial-focused students where you visit local business leaders, was also extremely impactful. We were able to meet business owners from various industries and I think it was invaluable to learn how they were able to grow their businesses. In one visit, a small group of about 20 students went to SpaceX to have lunch with Elon Musk. Hearing from a serial entrepreneur and visionary like him was an amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime experience which I think about often on my path as an entrepreneur.
Q. What was your favorite experience at Anderson?
For me, it was our capstone Business Creation Option (BCO) project as a part of the Applied Management Research (AMR) program. I was able to work with four classmates on my own startup Vinelust and it was amazing to have their help. I was so impressed with their energy and enthusiasm for my idea. Each of them brought something new to the table and was able to give me a different perspective on the larger strategy and business decisions I was making. It was part of their course work but I felt they went above and beyond what was required of them and it was deeply appreciated.
Q. Tell us more about the venture you launched while at Anderson?
I started Vinelust, a personalized wine club that helped connect consumers to small vineyards that made wine inline with their palate. I ended up joining an accelerator after business school to work on the company full-time. As I was trying to fundraise, I realized that there were a few strong competitors doing very similar things to Vinelust with significant traction and funding. Without a clear differentiating factor and difficult funding environment I decided to move on. I actually ended up joining a competitor, Club W (WINC) while they were growing rapidly. It was an invaluable experience to see a similar concept executed by serial entrepreneurs.
Q. What inspired you to start your newest venture, Lark Adventurewear?
I was getting frustrated after having my little boy, Vyan. We would spend so much time outdoors in the park and while I would stay dry in my workout gear, he'd be damp and uncomfortable in normal cotton clothes. It became my mission to create clothing that solves this problem so that little ones can stay comfortable, outside with their parents and explore the world around them.
Lark Adventurewear is an idea I've been working on for over a year after I discovered that there was nothing similar in the market for infants. Adult activewear uses synthetic fabric and chemical finishes. We've created a natural, proprietary wicking fabric that keeps babies cool and comfortable day and night.
Q. How has UCLA Anderson helped you launch Lark Adventurewear?
First, through classwork and opportunities to interact with successful entrepreneurs I was able to think strategically about the best way to start my current business. A startup is always thought of as “extremely risky” and although it doesn’t have the stability of more traditional career paths, there are certainly ways to mitigate risk. Having that strategic plan and testing the market are things I learned during my time at Anderson. We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign for my new company, for example. This is a way to test the market to see what demand is for the products we are creating while also cushioning risk by securing preorders.
Second, I think the network I created with fellow classmates who were also interested in startups has been amazingly valuable. I text and call upon these friends regularly for advice as I’m launching Lark Adventurewear!