Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship Student Academic Engagement & Success

Interview with 2023-24 Big iDeas Entrepreneurship Fellow Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly is the Co-Founder of Resolute Future, a software company dedicated to empowering the next generation of innovators. He was a former VP of investments at JPMorgan Chase where he spent 12 years with a variety of responsibilities including sales, financial planning, management, & training. 

Michael helps to lead the Big iDeas E-Launch which is a series of co-curricular workshops with mentoring and guest speakers including book authors, investors, and Dallas company founders. The E-Launch aims to guide SMU students in developing the critical skills needed to be successful throughout their entrepreneurial journey.   

What are some exciting things you’re seeing from the students in our E-Launch program? 

From one week to the next, I’ve seen a lot of growth with each entrepreneur. They ask great questions, and every week comes with something new, which is really refreshing.  

What tips would you give to our E-Launch entrepreneurs to tackle the challenges of building and growing an early-stage startup? 

Never take your eye off the problem that you’re solving. There are a lot of distractions out there, so keep your eye on the problem you’re solving. 

What will be some of the biggest challenges that our E-Launch entrepreneurs will face as their journey begins or some common mistakes that they could make as young entrepreneurs? 

It can all be summed up the word “distractions.” There is always another business opportunity, there is always a way you can contort your business for opportunities, and there are always people and things that demand your time. The ability to block out all those distractions is a necessity and the biggest challenge for any entrepreneur. Going back to the biggest tip – never take your eye off the problem you’re solving, block out the distractions, and keep pushing forward.  

What are some key lessons you hope E-Launch entrepreneurs have learned throughout our workshop programs? 

The frameworks that can carry them forward as they run into new challenges. Starting and running a business is all about solving challenges until you hit the next leg of challenges. I hope that these frameworks are ways that they can go thinking about problems and solutions and will carry them forward in each new level that they reach.  And keeping the problem their solving as their north star in everything they do.  

Why should a SMU student learn to be an entrepreneur and take a chance at building a startup while in college? 

Learning to build a startup, you are doing several things. You are building self-motivation, you are learning to solve problems, you are learning to construct systems that allow you to move an organization forward, and you are learning to be creative about how to solve problems. As you look and project forward throughout the rest of your career, these are all essential, whether you are an entrepreneur or you are going to be a change agent in a large enterprise. 

This interview was conducted by Leon Jackson, interim Project Coordinator for Big iDeas.

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