Career Spotlight: Mike Malloy (SCS'12)

Mike Malloy (SCS'12)

CEO, Waveborn

Describe your current position and what led you to your job:

I am a professional Ultimate Frisbee player who travels the world selling sunglasses and helping people. I am the CEO at Waveborn, a social good sunglasses startup company. For each pair of sunglasses sold, Waveborn helps a person in need in one of two ways: a) we provide a new pair of prescription eyeglasses through our nonprofit partner Unite for Sight, or b) we fund a portion of a vision-restoring cataract surgery for a person in need through our new nonprofit partner Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International. Prior to working for Waveborn full-time, I spent four years working for Deloitte Consulting and earning a master's degree in computer science at Georgetown. Upon graduation last May, I put in my six-week notice with Deloitte to move to Dewey Beach, Del., to sell sunglasses and run the business.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?

April 23, 2013, Day One of the Waveborn crowdfunding campaign was one of the biggest days in my personal or professional life. It was amazing to see the support for the company coming in from all angles to help us reach our goal of $10,000 at such a rapid pace. When I went to bed at 4 a.m., we had just broken $6,000. I slept for more than 10 hours and woke up to find out that we had broken $10,000. That was pretty cool and confirmed that our company was going to keep moving forward.

What is the best career advice you have received?

"With hard work and dedication, anything is possible." This is especially true if you want to become a career capitalist who possess the rare and valuable traits required by great work.

What would you recommend to someone interested in working in your field?

Entrepreneurship is A LOT of hard work. It requires a special mindset and level of determination to overcome any obstacle thrown your way. You will also need to wear a lot of "hats" in your own company and be responsible for learning how to do all sorts of different skills. For people who have already graduated, keep grinding out your daily 9-5 or 8-7 hours, but ask yourself "What am I doing from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. to build something that matters? What am I deliberately practicing to stretch my abilities to gain more career capital and take control in my life?" That's the first step on the path to building a sustainable side-income that can eventually grow to become a legit business.

What challenges have you faced and how did you successfully manage one situation?

The biggest challenge I've faced along the way is learning how to deal with the fear, doubt and uncertainty (both internally and externally) about making the leap into entrepreneurship. I finished my master's degree at Georgetown and then promptly put in my six-week notice with Deloitte. When I told my parents and friends that I was quitting my job to move to the beach to sell sunglasses ... I didn't exactly receive the best response from folks. There were some tough conversations that took place. It was hard enough for me to make that decision, and then even harder to deal with everyone else second-guessing my career path.

I've also had to deal with a lot of self-doubt over the past year. Entrepreneurship and exploring the unknown can be pretty scary—especially when you don't have a reliable paycheck coming every two weeks and need to make ends meet to pay rent each month. Putting my head down and working hard to improve the business day after day has led to some big financial successes to keep moving the company forward. I am very grateful for my friends and family who supported the company (and me) in December and January when we raised money for my month-long sales trip to California, as well as for our huge partnership deal with Major League Ultimate that has been vital to the company's growth in 2013.

Zig Ziglar, an American author, salesman and motivational speaker, once said, "Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful." Well, we've faced plenty of adversity over the past two years, so I'm looking forward to plenty of success as we continue to handle any adversity thrown our way.

What skills are necessary or what prepared you the most for your career?

I spent a year working at Waveborn in my free time while working full-time for Deloitte, taking two graduate school classes and traveling several weekends to Ultimate Frisbee tournaments. This stage in my life taught me how to balance several projects at once and budget my time accordingly across multiple areas of responsibility. If you want to make something happen, you have to put in the blood, sweat and tears to create it. No one is going to hand you a dream job. It is hard work, and the work never ends. But the nice thing is, if you do it right, it never feels like work.

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?

Georgetown Angels and Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance have both connected me with mentors to guide my entrepreneurial journey. I am excited to be an active member with Hoya Gateway to share my knowledge with the next wave of social entrepreneurs on the Hilltop. I am also a member of DC Night Owls, a late night co-working group that has connected me with some other great entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C.

If you could have another career what would it be?

I would be a bass player/backup vocalist in a cover band that played all their gigs in beach towns. I've played a lot of Guitar Hero and Rock Band over the years, and my voice sounds great when I sing along in the car. Obviously, being near the beach is a must.

How did your time at Georgetown University influence you and your career path?

My two and a half years on the Hilltop expanded my ability to learn. Prior to graduate school, my idea of learning required me to sit in a classroom and consume the professor's curriculum. Georgetown taught me how to teach myself any topic be reading and absorbing copious amounts of information on the web. Digesting extracurricular blogs, articles and books gave me a broader view of entrepreneurship. I continue to learn every day on the job.

My experiences on the Georgetown Ultimate Frisbee team also played a major role in shaping the person I am today and why I left Deloitte to sell shades and play Ultimate Frisbee. I cherished the three seasons of playing on Catholic Justice, and I just finished my first full year of coaching the Black Squirrels, Georgetown Ultimate Frisbee's B team. A lot of the organizational skills I acquired in graduate school came from coordinating various Ultimate Frisbee activities. I also learned how to be a leader for my teammates both on and off the field.