Entrepreneur and Jetsetter
McLain Harvey '13 MBA
“Studying abroad opened my mind to see how other cultures interact.”
McLain Harvey had a successful career in the corporate world. But after 11 years with the same company, he found himself longing for something different—something that would stretch his horizons, grow him professionally, and satisfy his inner desire to make a lasting impact.
Next thing he knew, Harvey was looking into an MBA. “I spoke with many people who had a stellar education at USD,” he says. “I was instantly drawn to the School of Business for their international and entrepreneurship programs, along with the core of social responsibility in their curriculum.”
Broadening his business world-view.
Just flip through his passport, and you’ll find Harvey’s flair for travel enviously impressive. From New Zealand to Thailand, he’s adventured to more than 35 countries. Yet it wasn’t until his international experiences through the School of Business that he saw the world with a different lens.
“I had so many opportunities to travel and study abroad during my MBA,” says Harvey, whose studies took him to Berlin, Istanbul, and Hong Kong. “I learned that other cultures operate more relationally than transactionally,” he says. “Studying abroad opened my mind to see how other cultures interact.”
To complete his international consulting practicum, Harvey travelled to Dubai where he and four other students advised one of the Sheik’s companies. “In Dubai, there are many for-profit universities, but a lot of them don’t have facilities, such as common areas,” says Harvey. “Our idea was to create a shared facility for all the universities that could generate profit.”
After pitching their idea, Harvey got to meet the Sheik himself. “He told us about the history of Dubai and about the vision his father had for the city,” he says. “The Sheik even went on to share a story about how his lion escaped,” he laughs. The company chose a different route, but Harvey still left an impact.
“We were able to help them think about new things. For example, I worked on naming rights. They didn’t really name buildings in the Middle East,” says Harvey. “I was able to show the Sheik’s company how they could generate millions of dollars in revenue via naming rights.”
Picturing a new world of possibility.
Harvey believes the combination of exposure to other cultures, real-world consulting experiences, and eye-opening coursework helped mature him both personally and in business. “My MBA gave me the tools and equipped me for a new career,” says Harvey. “It took me to the next level I was seeking for my professional growth.”
Some of the tools included learning how to effectively scale a business and to delegate leadership. In 2013, Harvey went on to create Pixster Photo Booths with business partner Ian Cote. He went from one photo booth in his garage to having 19 booths, three offices, and 40 employees in just three years with no need to franchise.
“During graduate school, I learned that many entrepreneurs reach a ceiling because they’re unwilling to give up control,” says Harvey. “I surrounded myself with people who could help me grow the company while I focused on business development.”
While Pixster is all about celebrating good times with competitively priced photo booth rentals, Harvey’s business model is sustainable and intentional about its impact on the community. “Every time we manufacture a new booth, the profits from it help a child get fed, clothed, and educated,” he says.
The world is Harvey’s oyster. And we can’t wait to see where this jet-setting entrepreneur lands next.