2021 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: ML Tech, University of Chicago (Booth)
ML Tech is a high-frequency trading (HFT) platform that connects experienced crypto researchers with institutional capital.
Founding Student Name(s): Leo Mindyuk (Chicago Booth MBA’21)
Brief Description of Solution: ML Tech is a high-frequency trading (HFT) platform that connects experienced crypto researchers with institutional capital. The platform leverages cutting-edge AI solutions and allows researchers to produce new strategies at an industry-leading pace and monetize their trading ideas on our marketplace.
Funding Dollars: $1.75M
What led you to launch this venture? Being an early researcher in crypto myself, I met a lot of people like me who run algorithmic trading strategies in crypto and wanted to get access to better infrastructure and capital to generate better investment returns. Meanwhile, through my work and professional connections, I realized that a lot of institutional investors wanted to get exposure to the emerging asset class, but it is difficult for them to find good researchers who can develop successful trading strategies in a transparent and secure environment. My co-founder and I came up with the idea to provide the infrastructure that will allow researchers to develop successful investment strategies, while solving the problems for institutional investors who want to get exposure to crypto.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Setting up a foundation of a team driven by the same vision, culture, and values has been our biggest accomplishment. We were able to bring together experienced developers and crypto professionals to create a strategy development platform that allows bright minds worldwide to monetize their crypto trading ideas. Our team was able to find solutions for our customers’ needs and design a platform that is solving one of the largest industry problems. We are looking to bring more people on board to be a part of the fintech revolution.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? My MBA program prepared me for a career in entrepreneurship. My first two classes at Booth were Building the New Venture and Machine Learning, which were impactful in helping me understand the space I was considering starting my company in. I have also found classes in Marketing, Operations, International Business, and Strategy to be very helpful during the company’s growth. This year we participated in the New Venture Challenge, allowing me to gain experience and learn from the process. The resources available at the Polsky Center and the mentorship of professors have been very helpful to accelerate the success of the venture.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? I have been interested in entrepreneurship since I was a child. My father was a successful entrepreneur in the education space and inspired me to follow the entrepreneur career path. During the past few years, I saw a lot of my friends and classmates starting businesses and building companies that impacted people’s lives. This further inspired me to start my own entrepreneurial journey.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? The New Venture Challenge at the Polsky Center. The New Venture Challenge is recognized as the top-ranked university accelerator program in the nation. Companies that have been successfully launched through the NVC include household names such as Grubhub, Braintree/Venmo, and Simple Mills. During the NVC competition, we were able to significantly improve our business idea by getting valuable feedback from the faculty as well as well-known venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. In particular, the questions that they have been asking us helped us to improve our business plan and later in the summer raise significant funding from strategic angel investors and VC firms.
What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? During the MBA program at the University of Chicago, I was getting a tremendous support from various professors — many of whom are still staying very involved and are extremely helpful with the current ML Tech growth. During the New Venture Challenge, Mark Tebbe significantly helped us to revise the business model and positioning and prepared ML Tech better for future business scalability. Moreover, his support during our Seed Round helped us to get an incredibly strong and engaged group of strategic investors.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? We plan to become the go-to platform for researchers worldwide and democratize access to high-frequency trading technology, allowing bright talent to produce the best strategies and generate income from their smart ideas.
Author: JEFF SCHMITT