The internet is full of content to read – but how does an MBA student know what content is worth his or her time? That’s the problem that Jack Mara’s (MBA ’15) new venture, 10Thoughts, aims to solve. Through user recommendations, 10Thoughts curates a list of current articles worth reading and delivers them to you via email once a week (or through a visit to their website), allowing MBA students to easily target well-written, thought-provoking articles in their spare time, rather than wading through the sea of content that comes to them through various channels.
Mara, who is originally from Boston, MA, really wanted to take advantage of the entrepreneurship classes offered in the second year at Darden. In his Starting New Ventures class with Professor Saras Sarasvathy, he decided that his project was going to be helping fellow second years achieve whatever goals they had for the year. This broad idea led him to create plans for people trying to accomplish things such as running every day, quitting smoking, or reading more. Of the plans that he worked on, Mara felt that he was having the most success helping his classmates read more: he was recommending five articles a week, and his classmates were reading and enjoying them. A desire for more variety led him to ask several other MBA students for article recommendations, and when that took off – at the time, over 30 people were signed up for his manual email updates – he decided to make it an automated service. And thus, 10Thoughts was born.
After establishing his idea in Starting New Ventures, Mara went on to take Developing New Products and Services with Professor Raul Chao, where he continued to refine and develop 10Thoughts. From there, he began a Darden Venture Project (DVP) so that he could focus on 10Thoughts full-time — another perk of Darden’s second year curriculum. Professor Chao serves as his advisor for this project.
Mara credits Darden’s strong entrepreneurial curriculum and faculty with the success of 10Thoughts. Professors Sarasvathy and Chao were key in instilling the mindset of constant experimentation in him, and teaching him that true entrepreneurship is about the process of getting something to succeed. He learned that the idea for a start-up is irrelevant – you never know what ideas are going to work, but success comes from experimenting over and over. The more tests you can run, says Mara, the faster you can figure out what works and what does not.
Now, with its easy-to-navigate website (built by Mara’s younger brother, Jeffrey, a student at Lehigh University), 10Thoughts has over 800 subscribers from a variety of business schools. Users can sign up for weekly updates of the most popular articles, follow up to five friends for a more finely curated list of content they want to see, and even make their own article recommendations. And, it’s just going to keep getting better: Mara and business partner Jerome Hughes (MBA ’15) will be in Darden’s iLab this summer. Mara tells us his summer goals include developing an app so that 10Thoughts can be mobile, improving article curation and delivery timing, and perhaps getting some members of larger companies to recommend articles. He is also looking to grow his customer base and garner more feedback, so he encourages you to sign up for the service (10thoughts.com) and send him your thoughts on your experience (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Best of luck to Jack, Jerome, and Jeffrey as they continue their adventure with 10Thoughts!