Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street, which are dedicated to helping students, entry-level professionals, and career changers break into investment banking and private equity, advance on the job, and master valuation and financial modeling.
Starting out with no funding and no team, he built a business with over 20,000 customers in less than 4 years by using free content and paid, video-based interactive courses. The business now has over 40,000 customers, and the courses are used by leading institutions such as Vanguard, Wells Fargo, Ares, Columbia Business School, Harvard Law School, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
He has also spoken at leading universities and business schools, such as Harvard, NYU Stern, Peking University, Stanford, the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School, and Yale.
In his free time, Brian enjoys getting as many stamps as humanly possible in his passport and obsessing over serialized TV shows. Sometimes, he even produces his own shows.
Where did the idea for Mergers & Inquisitions come from?
When I was driving home from work at 4 a.m. and crashed my car. It was a life-changing moment. I decided to get out of investment banking and instead teach students and professionals how to get in.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical days are productive thanks to long hours and high intensity.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Test everything in small increments. You don’t want to fully commit to an idea off the bat because it may end up costing too much time or money.
What’s one trend that excites you?
For my company, it’s the global interest in what we do. Over the last 365 days, 53 percent of our readership is from outside of the United States. It’s exciting to see so many visitors to our site from places like Hong Kong, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, India, and others.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Get to know your customers in real life. I’ve traveled to other countries to speak with customers in person and it paid off big. Those interactions help me understand the market better than my competitors.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t move around so much. If you stay in one spot long enough you’ll develop a solid network and valuable connections. Those connections become even more valuable when strengthened over time.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That having professional discussions face to face are exponentially more beneficial than through email or over the phone.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Testing things in small increments prior to full implementation. This is very important so you don’t end up wasting resources like time or money.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I’ve created a ton of organic traffic through blogging. Writing on your topic of expertise is a great way to generate exposure.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve fallen in love with an idea and attempted to fully implement it all at once. It was a huge and unnecessary gamble that resulted in a loss of time and money.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Find an aspect of your field that’s underserved and in need of solutions. If you can address what people need you’ll become a leader in your industry.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Renewing my passport. I typically work long hours and 6 days per week so it’s nice to reward myself with traveling and relaxation. I’ve always enjoyed traveling and I’ve lived in foreign countries such as South Korea, Spain, Argentina, and Australia.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use WordPress for writing blogs and our team uses Slack for communicating.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Great Deformation by David Stockman
Mr. Stockman worked with US Presidents so his knowledge of fiscal policies is quite extensive. He points out mistakes made by Presidents, both Republican, and Democrat so it’s politically unbiased perspective. Most finance books are somewhat boring but this was one I couldn’t put down.
What is your favorite quote?
“Can a man still be a man if he’s afraid? That is the only time a man can be brave.”
It was said by a character from Game of Thrones but it’s applicable in the world of business. You haven’t experienced much as an entrepreneur unless you’ve barely survived or lost everything.
- Test things in small increments prior to full implementation
- Meet with customers for face to face
- Find an area in your field that’s underserved and provide solutions