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Harvey Duan is not the perfect writer and has often asked his family and friends to help edit his essays. However, as he was applying to b-school, he wished there were students who were willing to provide him feedback. Now at the Haas School of Business, he and his classmates are trying to solve this problem by connecting current MBA students with future applicants.
For the last five years, Harvey has been busy with his event ticket company www.slickseats.com. When he is not working on school projects, running his company and spending time with his wife and dog, you can find him solving everyday problems.
UberEssays.com is a peer-to-peer essay review marketplace for MBA admissions. The site offers essay reviews by your dream schools’ students.
SlickSeats.com was created for the fans by real people who love attending live events. Whether you are planning your next experience or shopping for a gift, the site offers a variety of domestic and international sports, concert and theater tickets.
MO: How did you come up with the idea of UberEssays.com? How long did it take from having the idea to actually providing a service?
Harvey: UberEssays.com was started on our bi-weekly shuttle ride from San Jose to Berkeley. My classmates and I just started brainstorming ideas with one another and we were discussing the pain points of applying to business school. We were frustrated at how difficult it was to reach out to current students and discovered that many other classmates shared the same issue.
The idea was conceived in August, however, production did not begin until late October. We launched a full version of our site on January 13th.
MO: Was it challenging to create a community of the best and brightest MBA students to review essays from their peers? What was your strategy for targeting and reaching the ideal student to represent UberEssays?
Harvey: It was quite challenging to get some of the brightest MBA students to sign up and be willing to review essays. Business school students are quite busy, however, we’ve discovered that many current students want to share their success stories with others. We have also learned that business school students are willing to help fellow MBA students achieve success. There have been many early adopters who have offered us a tremendous amount of support and we cannot thank them enough.
MO: How does the UberEssays process work?
Harvey: Imagine you are applying to business school and want someone to review your essays, but you cannot afford expensive admissions consultants and have no contacts at your dream school. What do you do? You can ask your parents, siblings, co-workers, but more than likely they will not be able to provide you the level of insight that a current student can. The current student has already done something right to get into the program and many are willing to share their success tips with you.
When you are ready with your essay, come to our site and select the reviewer from your target school that best fits your profile. Then upload your essay. The turnaround town is fairly quick and no longer than 48 hours. Once you receive your feedback, rate the reviewer to grade how he or she did.
MO: UberEssays isn’t your first online venture. Can you talk about SlickSeats, what it is, how it developed and what your involvement has been?
Harvey: Slickseats.com is a secondary ticket marketplace for your favorite sports, concert and theater events. The site was developed by a group of very passionate sports and concert fans. We have been very active in selling a wide array of tickets to events ranging from Wicked to the Super Bowl. Our prices are highly competitive and we have a special discount for MO.com readers! Use discount code MO to save on your next ticket purchase.
MO: How did the experience you gained at SlickSeats.com contribute to the development of UberEssays.com?
Harvey: My experience from SlickSeats.com has really helped me realize the importance of leadership and communication. Businesses cannot operate effectively without actively communicating with one another. This does not mean just speaking for the sake of speaking, listening for the sake of listening, but rather sharing your passion, belief system and conviction so that your team members can share the same vision.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for UberEssays.com?
Harvey: We are very excited for the partnerships we have created, including TheMBATour.com, The Economist Which MBA and Forté Foundation. In the near future, we will be adding more schools, more students and additional services. We have a more surprises in store so stay tuned!
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