Zack Stiefler is co-founder and CEO of Bungalow Insurance. It is a technology startup that works to simplify insurance through data and design. Bungalow also won the 2015 Wharton Business Plan Competition. The company offers great customer experience, especially with their renters insurance platform. Zack earned two bachelor’s degrees from Duke University, as well as a Master of Business Administration degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
What sort of education is needed to successfully do your job?
“The great thing about running a technology business these days is that tools have gotten so good and so user-friendly that you no longer need a technical education to run a technology company. Services like Squarespace, Mailchimp, Stripe and Shopify have basically made it so anyone can create and run a business through intuitive, drag-and-drop technology. And if you need to dive deeper into the technology side of things, there are a ton of excellent online resources to help you improve your technological aptitude. I have zero technology background, but have been able to learn everything I needed ‘on the job.’”
What is the most relevant aspect of your education that applies to your day-to-day job?
“Where my education has been particularly relevant, particularly my MBA, is on the ‘business’ side of things. For example, before getting my MBA, I didn’t really appreciate the importance of marketing. I assumed that if I built something great, people would find it and buy it. But in reality, that happens very rarely; without a successful marketing and customer acquisition strategy, nobody will buy your product. Wharton did a great job of opening my eyes to how much goes into starting and running a successful business.”
What is the most fun aspect of your job?
“Being my own boss is the most fun aspect of my job! After working for years in finance, which is very regimented and hierarchical, it’s very refreshing to be able to set and execute the strategic direction of our company. The only people I need to answer to are my awesome co-founder, Tom, and our customers. It’s exhilarating (and scary!) to run my own business.”
What advice would you give someone just starting out in the field of technology?
“If you KNOW you want to go into a technology field, then I would suggest learning basic computer science and learning how to code. While it’s true that tools have gotten user-friendly enough that coding ability isn’t necessary to start a technology company, it WILL make your life a lot easier. In addition, software literacy is becoming more and more important across all industries, and the next generation of business leaders will be expected to understand software in a way that current executives may not. It will no longer be OK for managers to simply ‘leave the coding to the experts,’ as software and technology continue to grow in importance.”
Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. She reports on various topics such as: Social Media, Local Events, Entertainment, Food and Drink and more. Her work can be found at http://firstsendmedia.com/