Meet Our Fellows: Ben Simon T’21

April 14th, 2021

Topics: Apps Customer eCommerce Entrepreneurial Tech Marketing / Sales Mobile Platforms

Name

Ben Simon

Hometown

Wendell, MA. It’s a town of 800 people next to the NH and VT borders. No traffic lights, no gas stations. We have one country store and that’s it!

What did you do prior to Tuck?

Right out of undergrad, I was a management consultant for a boutique firm in Boston. From there, I joined the entry-level sales program at CarGurus as one of the first 200 employees there. Most of my time at CarGurus was spent managing a sales team of account executives, selling software and online advertising to car dealerships. 

Why did you choose Tuck?

CarGurus is founded by Tuckie, Langley Steinert T’91. He also co-founded TripAdvisor, and he is so well-known and respected in Boston tech that I figured there must be something special about Tuck.

So many leaders at CarGurus have Tuck MBAs. CarGurus’ current CEO, Jason Trevison T’03, convinced me to look at Tuck when I began considering business school. The fact that these leaders would consistently say Tuck was the best two years of their lives really stood out to me. Now having been here myself for two years, I can see why they said that!

Do you have any post-Tuck plans yet? If so, what are they? 

I’ve been working on a start-up, DYNR, since I started at Tuck. DYNR is a QR-code menu designed to enhance the in-person dining experience. 

Our plan is to launch in Hanover in the next few weeks. The goal of this pilot is to gauge product market fit. All of the entrepreneurship resources at Tuck have been amazing, and the community has been so supportive. 

As any entrepreneur can relate to, we are cautiously optimistic about DYNR’s potential, so that’s where my focus is right now. Look for it soon in some of the iconic Hanover restaurants!

What made you want to be part of the CDS MBA Fellows Program?

As an Associate, I became friends with some of the most interesting people at Tuck. I think the people that gravitate to the CDS are some of the most intellectually curious people I’ve met. It is such an amazing mix of people with deep domain knowledge and generalist interests. I’ve learned so much from the CDS that I’m not sure I could necessarily get anywhere else. 

In terms of the fellows program, I saw the program as another way to think outside the box, especially in terms of DYNR and the ways I was approaching the business. I’ve learned so much from my classmates through the fellows program. Some of my closest friends are from the CDS!

What is the best part about being involved with the CDS?

It’s the people. Both the fellows and the center team are uniquely supportive of one another. When I’ve talked with CDS alumni, I feel connected to Tuck on an even deeper level. There’s a mutually shared passion for technology and disruptive business models that makes every conversation more exciting and more valuable. It always feels like I’m learning so much from my classmates. I trust everyone from the center in a way that is hard to put into words.

What other activities are you involved in at Tuck?

The Future of Automobility (FAM) club is a club I co-founded in my first year. We recently put on a panel with 3 of my idols: YouTuber’s Doug Demuro and Andre Smirnov and Ed Loh, the Editor in Chief of “Motor Trend“. Being able to create opportunities like this was one of the reasons I wanted to come to business school in the first place, and putting this panel together was a dream come true. 

From the FAM club, I’ve been able to get close to Doug DeMuro, star of a hit YouTube channel and founder of Cars and Bids. I’ve followed him and looked up to him for years, and being able to work with him, and become friends with him is just incredibly cool. 

What has been the biggest growth moment or moment where you stepped out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that experience?

I participated in the Tuck Winter Carnival “roast”, where I performed stand-up comedy in front of my peers. Even though Tuck is a comfortable place, getting on stage and really letting loose in front of a crowd definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’m really glad I did it, and it was one of the more fun moments at Tuck. 

I’m also a Tuck Follies co-chair. I suppose my career at Tuck has been defined by tech, entrepreneurship, comedy, and cars. I think that’s a pretty solid legacy! 

What speaker(s) have you learned the most from in your time at Tuck? 

There’s so many. Ed Loh, Editor in Chief of “Motor Trend” helped me understand how close we are to a scalable electric vehicle that can truly hit the masses–even more than what we have right now with Tesla’s Model 3. 

Niraj Shah, co-founder and CEO of Wayfair, was maybe one of my favorites, too. I learned so much about marketplaces from him. He’s such an inspiring entrepreneur, and he makes it sound so effortless. It’s as if he built a 10-person company when the reality is he built the most disruptive furniture business in the world. 

Another that sticks out to me was David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlye Group

I had the opportunity to do breakfast with him one morning, then I went to his speech later in the day. Hearing from him was so powerful. He had so many valid critiques of government, and it was inspiring to me to be more authentic, worry less about offending people, and stand by and defend whatever it is I believe in. 

What books are you reading, podcasts are you listening to, or shows are you watching?

I’m currently reading Post Corona by Scott Galloway…It is the best explanation about how the market has responded to Covid, and how the top 10% of the country has really benefited from the pandemic. Businesses like Amazon were basically built for a pandemic. 

“Inkmasters” on Netflix is amazing so far. Proceed with caution..

What aspect of living in the Upper Valley has surprised you the most since arriving here?

Culturally, I grew up in a pretty similar area. Discovering how close Tuck and Dartmouth are to the Upper Valley community was really impressive, though. It has been great to see how responsive and kind people are to students…it seems like both Dartmouth and Tuck are well-thought of and connected to the community. 

You’re a bit of a “car guy.” What are you driving right now/what is your dream car? 

Right now I’m driving a gold 2003 Mercedes G-Wagon. It’s the boxy jeep-looking SUV made by Mercedes. It’s got black wheels and chunky tires to go off-road!

My dream would be to buy a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS (most balanced 911 I’ve driven) and custom order it so I can pick all the silly little details. Porsche takes the cake for the most ridiculous options to choose from. Last I checked Porsche offer six different seatbelt colors!

If you could “turn on” one ability (it must be realistic), what would it be? In other words, you can’t say “I wish I had the ability to fly.”

If I could remember everyone’s birthday, it’d be that. If I could nail that one, my life would be so much better! When I was younger, I was really good at remembering my friends’ birthdays, but then Facebook came along, and I relied too much on it! 

You like cooking. Can you share a dish with us?

Jollof Rice. It’s a West African dish really popular in Ghana and Nigeria. I learned it from my friend Nelson, a Ghanian exchange student my family hosted when I was in high school.

It’s such a great comfort food. I’ve introduced it to dozens of people and they’ve all been blown away at how tasty it is! 

If you meet someone from another culture, it’s wonderful to be able to show that you understand part of their culture through food. It’s an instant badge of credibility, especially if the food is more obscure, and I think connecting over food with others is the best way to create relationships. 

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