Alex Rich, BBA ’11, was well on his way to building a successful investment-banking career in in New York City when he was “bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.” In June 2012, he left his position as an investment-banking analyst at Citigroup in Lower Manhattan and walked down the street to the Tribeca office of mobile application start-up Atmospheir, where he signed on as vice president of operations. “The concept that Atmospheir was advancing was powerful enough to compel me to change course,” Rich explains.
His roommate at the University of Michigan piqued his interest in the company by introducing him to its founder and CEO. Over the past 18 months, Atmospheir has designed and developed a mobile application that allows users to share all of their contact information and social network presences via a single, unique ID that they create. According to Rich, the app is a social re-imagination of the address book that provides a perpetual solution to contact management. Recently, the start-up got the official nod from Apple to market its mobile application online through the App Store.
While this is Rich’s first foray into the realm of new venture creation, he says the Ross School’s highly diverse core curriculum helped prepare him to work effectively in a challenging, multifaceted start-up environment. “Any time you join an early-stage company with a small team, you inevitably have to wear many hats,” Rich observes. “Ross equipped me with a broad-based business skillset in accounting, finance, marketing and other functions that I needed to help build a business from scratch.” That skillset is being put to the test daily, as the fledgling company develops its rollout strategy, promotes its brand, formulates its revenue model and pursues seed funding from venture investors. “In the back of my mind, I had hoped someday to transition to a venture-capital or private-equity firm where I could work with younger, less-established companies,” Rich says. “Last year, I took that vision one step further by going directly to work at Atmospheir.”