Tim Roberts worked as a writer, actor and producer for 20 years before deciding to leave the US and pursue a full-time MBA at France’s EDHEC Business School.
After graduating in 2010, he returned to the US and took up leading roles at a variety of tech companies – including a big data-crunching media production firm – and served as managing director of Bloom USA, the North American practice of leading branding strategy consulting firm Bloom Consulting.
Now a startup veteran, he’s launched his own tech startup in California.
TipTags is all about connecting people through places. Through the TipTags platform, users can create multimedia messages about a place they can pinpoint on a map, helping visitors travel like a local.
TipTags helps businesses too. Real estate firms can share information about properties on the TipTags platform. Sports venues can help fans connect. Think WhatsApp, Google Maps and TripAdvisor all rolled into one.
Tim has been part of two expeditions to summit Mount Everest. On one, he helped Nawang Sherpa become the first person to do so with an artificial leg.
But on the business side, Tim couldn’t have got to where he is today without the EDHEC MBA. What he learned during his 10 months in France opened doors for him in the startup world in California.
How did the idea to start up TipTags come about?
I was looking for information about places that was about more than businesses. Like where not to go, or a great place for a picnic, or advice about parking. The kind of things the local people know.
I couldn't find it anywhere. After an in-depth search and a patent search I realized I had found an opportunity. So, I wrote a patent application and started the company, using what I had learned at EDHEC and the network I had developed working with startup and early-stage companies.
Where are you at right now with your business?
We just launched our first version on the Apple App Store a few days ago! We want people to try it out and let us know what they like and how we can serve them better.
We are a B2B2C company. We have a consumer app and we are also working with transportation and logistics companies to use our system for driver intelligence, particularly for last-mile delivery.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at EDHEC?
I was ready for a change. I wanted to create companies to create long-term benefit for people. Looking at my qualifications, I saw I needed the skills an MBA would give me.
I decided to look to Europe for an MBA to see business from a different perspective. I found EDHEC and was very attracted to the school’s entrepreneurial spirit, not only in its approach to business and to education, but also in its origins as a ‘scrappy startup’ MBA in the top tier in France.
I was also attracted to EDHEC’s location in France’s tech center, and the compressed time commitment, because I was impatient to get started!
What advice do you have for MBAs looking to start their own business?
Focus on making the lives of your customers better; everything will follow from that.
You had better love what you do because it will be hard. Starting new things is risky, and will definitely involve painful moments. But it is the best way to create value; for you as an individual, for your co-founders and employees, and for the world at large. So, if you have a vision and an appetite for risk, go for it!
Would you be where you are today without the EDHEC MBA?
One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Louis Pasteur: ‘Fortune favors the prepared mind.’ Without a prepared mind opportunities for innovation and breakthroughs will be missed. The skills I learned at EDHEC opened doors for me in the startup world here in California and, combined with what I learned subsequently, gave me everything I needed to found my own company.
So, I was able to achieve what I set out to do. The EDHEC network has also been very helpful. I can honestly say TipTags would not exist without the friends I made while getting my MBA.
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