From Idea to Product: Insights from Peter MacDonald (MBA ’19)
Wunderite wants to make insurance wonderful. With the belief that filling out paperwork doesn’t have to be a daunting experience, Peter MacDonald (MBA ’19) conceived of Wunderite, a startup that helps customers, brokers, and insurers easily collaborate online, sort of like TurboTax, but for insurance.
With a team consisting of MacDonald and ten Boston College MBA, Law, and undergraduate students, Wunderite has made significant strides these past few months, including being accepted into the 2018 batch of Accelerate@Shea, Boston College’s accelerator program, making it to the finals of this year’s Shea Center Venture Competition, receiving a semi-finalist berth at the prestigious Rice Business Plan Competition, and placing first at InsurTech Hartford’s annual pitch night in April.
“My experience at BC with respect to creating a startup has been better than I could have imagined,” MacDonald says. “If I went back in time and told myself all the things we would do, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.”
How has the BC MBA experience helped Peter and his team in developing Wunderite from idea to product? MacDonald provides four insights below.
The Accelerate@Shea entrepreneurship program: In addition to providing free resources and office space, the BC accelerator instantly plugged me into the entrepreneurship scene in Boston. I have connected with Boston College alums and friends who are dedicated to helping out the BC network at companies like Google, Suffolk Construction, Summit Partners, Jebbit, Optum, and Athena Health.
Networking: As an MBA student, I’ve met with countless CEOs, founders, consultants, and VPs. I’ve probably learned as much or more through these connections alone. Part of the advantage of pursuing an MBA is you get a good excuse to make introductions. For example, one of my teammates, Joe Schnare, reached out to an entrepreneur who made a well-known app that had a big exit. We all ended up sitting down for two hours over coffee, and learned a lot about scaling and growing a new business.
Professors: Professors are excited to learn about what students are doing. They let us use Wunderite for class projects, tweet about it to their thousands of followers, and have given us first-hand feedback as advisors to our pitch and strategy. They have also helped us make valuable connections. For instance, the professor for my data analytics class brought in a manager from Google who specializes in the insurance industry. We spoke after class and a few weeks later, four of us from Wunderite had a meeting at Google in Cambridge, receiving feedback on our pitch and business model from some pretty sharp people. And I was able to share with the Google team what it’s like to be a broker—to help them better craft their future presentations.
Classmates: My classmates are awesome. In addition to being fun, funny, and generous, they are probably the biggest highlight of the MBA program. It is an invaluable experience to be surrounded by really smart people who can help shape your viewpoints by bringing vastly different perspectives, and also connect you to their diverse networks. We wouldn’t have been accepted to the Rice Business Plan Competition, or make semi-finals, if it weren’t for the work and dedication of my classmates who wrote and submitted the business plan, and spent days of their time refining our pitch, time and time again.