Have you been thinking about pursuing an MBA – or even launching your own startup – but worry you lack business essentials like marketing, accounting, finance and operations? Tara Cappel, former Darden Business Essentials student, was considering different career options a year ago when she registered for the program. Today she's the founder of a successful startup, For the Love of Travel (FTLO Travel), an organization that takes small groups of young professionals on uniquely curated group trips. Read below to learn more about her experience in Darden Business Essentials and her journey to launching her own company, including advice to other early career professionals considering pursuing a startup.
Hometown: Sun Valley, Idaho
Undergraduate: Started at Tufts University, took two years off to travel and then transferred to University of Denver, BSBA in Economics (Magna Cum Laude), May 2013
Job prior to Darden Business Essentials: Director of Operations at MetaWear
Current job: Founder/President For the Love of Travel (FTLO Travel)
Why did you decide to take Darden Business Essentials (DBE)?
I was in the idea stage of For the Love of Travel when I found out about DBE and I took it as a sign that I was going in the right direction and I signed up immediately. Even though I have a business background, I wanted a refresher in business principles and I had heard about how incredible Darden's professors are. Plus, I had been thinking about getting an MBA and this was a great way to preview the experience.
In what area did you experience the most growth/learning?
Business accounting (thankfully). The way each session is taught is a fantastic exercise in problem solving, which is really what business is. So for me, even the accounting section (which has historically been my Achilles' heel) was presented in such an engaging way that it actually made me excited about accounting.
What was your favorite thing about the program? Or the most surprising thing you experienced?
I knew the professors were going to be good, but I didn't know how good. They are so engaging and excited about what they're teaching. They really do such a good job of choosing interesting material and then guiding the conversation but allowing students to work through the concepts themselves, which encourages a deeper understanding of the lesson. Also, just overall the whole experience, from the location and the food, to the materials provided, was very well executed.
Tell us about For the Love of Travel and why you started it.
For the Love of Travel (FTLO Travel) is a travel company that takes small groups of young professionals on uniquely curated group trips. Experiencing realities different from your own world is hugely important for personal growth – and we think the best way to do that is through travel. Our goal is to help busy, career-oriented young people experience more of the world by solving the problems of not having time to plan a trip and/or not having anyone to travel with. We curate really cool itineraries, plan all of the logistics, and run the trips in a very laid back way – so it feels more like a group of friends going on an adventure rather than a typical "group tour."
How long have you been planning to launch your new company?
I started thinking and researching in September of 2015, actually planning in October 2015, and launched in March of 2016.
Have you applied skills you learned in DBE to your new business? Did DBE give you confidence to pursue FTLO Travel?
Definitely. It was very helpful for me to be able to apply the course material to this crazy idea I had to start an international travel company and then sort of realize throughout the 8-weeks that it was a totally feasible idea. DBE gave me the framework and basic toolkit to figure out the pieces I needed to lay the foundation for FTLO Travel. Without a doubt, every single DBE session taught me something that I have used for my business.
Are you planning to pursue an MBA one day?
I would like to, if I have time. But do I think it would be a good idea to have an MBA before starting a company? Absolutely.
What advice would you give to a young professional who’s thinking about launching his/her own startup?
So much! But my top three would be:
Do your research
Have a mentor
Do small tests before making big commitments
About Darden Business Essentials
27 Feb – 20 April
Washington, D.C., Area
Two evenings per week
(One evening in-person, one evening online)
The program is ideal for early career professionals who are considering an MBA and who could benefit from business fundamentals in Accounting, Finance, Operations and Marketing. Click here to learn more and register for the course.
Attend a Free Darden Business Essentials Virtual Info Session
Learn More About Tara's Company
Facebook: FTLO Travel