Class Of '98

Alumnus/age: Michael Sattler, 30

Company/description: WebOnTap Inc., a Newton, Massachusetts, application service provider

Education: MBA in entrepreneurship from Babson College, F.W. Olin School of Business

Background: "My father is a corporate lawyer," says Sattler, "and when I was interning in his office, going through new corporation documents, [I realized] I didn't want to be involved in big companies."

And if Sattler's new enterprise becomes a big company? Pause. "That might be a little different," laughs Sattler, who employs a staff of four full-timers and more than a dozen part-timers to run WebOnTap (www.webontap.com), which opened its virtual doors in October 1999. Sattler, along with partner, co-founder and fellow Babson grad Joe Bardenheier, 32, vice president of sales and marketing, assists small businesses in managing everything from Web sites to finances.

Sattler graduated from Princeton in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in history and worked in sales and marketing for a PBS station. Sattler started another company, Highwired.net, while in business school. Now HighWired.com, it provides free Web-publishing tools to high schools; Sattler sold his piece in 1998.

What an entrepreneurial education taught him: "There's no such thing as an insulated discipline anymore, especially on the entrepreneurial level," says Sattler. "Day by day, we consider everything from financial marketing to direct sales." Which is what Sattler liked about Babson's approach to teaching entrepreneurial classes. Three professors taught each class, which meant he always got three points of view.

What it didn't teach him: "I think a lot of business schools are behind in the business world's changes," says Sattler. "Most professors got their Ph.D.s 25 years ago, and just in the past five years, the business world has turned over on its head."

How his peers are faring: Because they need to entice students, no college wants to put in their brochure "Many of our students graduate and move directly into their new business, receiving no salary and subsisting on a diet of Cheez Whiz and Dr. Pepper." So, says Sattler, Babson encourages its students to allow themselves to be recruited to enormous companies that can pay a starting salary of $80,000.

"Babson trains you to think like an entrepreneur," observes Sattler, "and then encourages you to work for people who don't. Because of that, most of the grads take those high-paying jobs, and within one year, they quit."

Is he glad he went? Without a doubt. "Without Babson, I would not have been able to get this far," says Sattler. "There weren't a lot of surprises in my first [business year]. Babson kept me focused."

Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the May 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Class Of '98.

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