Starting up with confidence

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Rachel Flynn ILR ’06 was a product and operations manager at American Express seeking a new challenge when she learned about Cornell Tech’s entrepreneurial, technology-driven MBA program.

“I was ready to transition to smaller companies and see what it was like to work for a startup. The ILR School gave me the foundation to help build organizations, and I fell in love with the tech component while helping employees get the right tools to succeed, so it was the perfect program for me.”

The one-year program is offered by the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell Tech’s temporary campus in Google’s New York City headquarters, a 30-minute commute from Flynn’s home in Hoboken, N.J. The program is slated to move to Roosevelt Island in 2017.

“Cornell Tech was the best of both worlds: a core of business classes from a great faculty and immersion in the tech and startup world.”

Now in its third year, the program teams MBA students with engineering and information systems graduate students on innovative product development projects.

After summer business courses in Ithaca in 2015, Flynn and the other MBA students moved to Manhattan for tech courses and teamwork.

Her fall semester included work on an app for a mobile advertising company and consulting projects providing tech-driven solutions for two Israeli startups. “We helped with organizational problems they didn’t have time to address.”

In the second semester, students developed their own products. Flynn’s team started Elroy, a mobile app that helps older adults more easily access apps and services like Uber.

“We found only 2 percent of Uber riders were over 55 years old and knew there had to be something we could do to change that,” she said.

After earning her MBA in May, Flynn became the first person hired by another Cornell Tech startup, Datalogue, which creates software to clean and transform data. She’s shaping the business as its vice president of operations.

“Cornell Tech taught me how to approach the startup process correctly and took a lot of the fear out of it for me,” she said. “It’s a riskier work environment, but we’re confident that we’re ready.”