This month, we sat down with Kelsey Lents, a recent Georgetown graduate who leveraged her MBA to pivot into entrepreneurship. Kelsey guides us through her journey from McDonough School of Business to Two Birds, the DC-based startup that brings childcare to the co-work model, providing premium licensed care that fits anyone’s schedule.
Tell us a little about yourself…
My name is Kelsey Lents and I was the epitome of a non-traditional business school student. Prior to Georgetown University, I was an architect practicing in New York and thought that I would go back to get my MBA so that I could do strategy for a design firm. I chose Georgetown because it was situated in an incredibly vibrant city and because I wanted to learn from practitioners. I was drawn to Georgetown’s diversity, it’s strength in the field of entrepreneurship, and its embrace of creative thinking within a business setting. I had no idea that I would come out of the program as an entrepreneur, but I wanted to be surrounded by entrepreneurial-minded people and Georgetown’s MBA program gave me this opportunity.
So tell us more about what’s happened since graduation?
So we started a company called Hatch while we were in school, which we recently rebranded as Two Birds, and it all came together like the perfect storm. The idea came out of Eric Koester’s ‘Startup Factory’ class, an experience that I highly recommend to anyone. The timing of the course could not have been any better because I was pregnant with my first son at the time I was taking the class. Since starting the MBA program, I had a chance to reflect on my life and my career and through researching jobs and opportunities it made me realize how difficult it would be for me to juggle parenting and work. I was looking into daycare options for my son while trying to figure out what life would be like as a mom and I found out that all of the traditional day care options really lacked customer-centricity, meaning they were all extremely competitive and hard to find. When I started taking Eric’s class, I pitched the problem that I was facing and was blown away by the response of the class. We set up a landing page and realized that people were signing up for our waitlist literally over night. So my co-founder, JP Coakley, and I decided to skip the traditional summer internship and dedicate ourselves full time to our business. Georgetown gave us access to resources that we needed to ideate, build, and grow our business within the Georgetown Venture Lab. We could meet with our professors over the summer to talk about financial modeling and pitch our idea at competitions. Because of this, we were able to obtain incredible feedback and enough funds to bootstrap our business. JP and I tried to be strategic about how we planned out our curriculum. We compared our class schedules and tag-teamed classes where we could gain critical insights from the class together, such as fundraising and VC-related stuff. He would take one class and I would take another. And at the end of the day, it resulted in the perfect formula to launch Two Birds.
Why did you apply to InSITE Fellows?
I applied to InSITE because it would give me a chance to assess what I liked and disliked about certain industries and functions. I wanted to be more involved with strategy consulting because there were things about those roles that appealed to me. InSITE gave me the hands on experience to explore things that I might love. InSITE was really the only thing I found that would be an equal balance between creative thinking and development, while working on consulting projects for companies.
What did you learn from InSITE and how will those lessons help shape your career?
First, I learned to appreciate and value the customer. At Two Birds, we are constantly trying to figure out what our customers need as opposed to trying to build our business in a vacuum. Second, when at a startup, I learned that you don’t have the luxury of working in a role where your skillset is best. You have to take on a number of roles that may make you uncomfortable. You have to be okay with being uncomfortable and adapting frequently to change.