Two weeks before he was presented with his degree from NYU Stern’s Langone MBA for Working Professionals program, Scott Holand and his business partner were presented with a check for $75,000. The pair took the top prize in the Stern School’s annual, eight-month-long $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge for their business start-up HireCanvas, a web and mobile platform that is poised to re-invent the recruiting process for companies, universities, and career-seeking students.
As he reflects on a life-changing journey into the start-up world, Holand says it all began by being in the wrong place at the right time.
Here’s his story.
I always aspired to go back to business school after I finished undergrad at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Meeting new people, learning about different careers, and finding out what gets other people out of bed each day were intriguing to me. So in the fall of 2012, I made the risky decision to walk away from a full-time job as a systems and IT consultant with Accenture so that I could dedicate full-time attention to my MBA. Sure, I loved Accenture and my work there, but there were a lot of sacrifices being made as I pursued my degree.
While on campus one day, I was hard at work studying in a room which—unbeknownst to me—had been reserved by the planning committee for NYU’s annual entrepreneurship festival. I gathered my belongings to move out of their way, but was invited to stick around by one of the committee members. As it turns out, being in the wrong place at the right time was life changing for me.
I grew very involved in the entrepreneurship festival and, the following year, was lucky enough to channel my new-found passion as one of the event’s student co- leads. Being surrounded by so many smart, passionate, and driven people, there was no doubt that I had been bitten by the start-up bug.
That fateful day quickly led to a chain of events that now seem like a fairy tale when I stare at my $75,000 check from Stern’s Entrepreneurs Challenge. My business partner, Kevin George, and I had been working on HireCanvas a little before the challenge got started. He’s not an NYU student, but I remember when we met, through a mutual friend, we instantly hit it off. We both knew we had something special shortly after the idea for HireCanvas was born out of Kevin’s past recruiting experience. Then the next thing we knew, we were fully engulfed in start-up life: late nights after work for him, after classes for me, talking to customers to find out their pain points, and identifying our areas of opportunity.