PHILADELPHIA – There was a time, not so long ago, when business schools most often served as educational rest stops on the investment banking career highway. Today, however, Wall Street firms are scrambling just to fill their interview sheets as potential MBAs are making a beeline for the West Coast unless attractive office space can be found in Silicon Alley.
“I don’t think that there is anyone here without a business plan,” said Pravan Malhotra, a first-year student at the prestigious Wharton Business School.
And Malhotra is living proof. Indeed, he and a pair of fellow Wharton first-years have formed Alchemy Partners, an inter-school venture catalyst with teams working within some of the nation’s top business programs.
“It’s very hard for students to find answers to a lot of basic questions and to make the necessary venture connections,” Malhotra said. “We have management classes, but the world is moving in Internet time rather than in class time so it’s important for us to have access to certain information even while we’re in school.”
Alchemy Partners will provide management consulting services to select student start-ups and help them secure venture capital funding, similar to the activities of a typical incubator. In exchange, Alchemy hopes to take a small equity stake in the companies, probably in the range of 5% or below. “Eventually, we’d probably like to start an Alchemy fund,” said Malhotra.
Currently, Alchemy has the Wharton team working in Philadelphia and a Chicago unit with partners attending the Kellogg School of Management and the University of Chicago. Malhotra also reported that he is currently evaluating interested students hailing from Stanford University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“We chose the name because we feel like we’re doing what was once considered impossible,” Malhotra said. “We’re not turning iron into gold but we will be taking business plans of people who are still in school and help to turn them into successful businesses.”