November 1, 2018 Q&A with alumnus Nate DeMars (MBA '11)

Nate DeMarsNate DeMars (MBA ’11) is founder and CEO of PurSuit — a business that bloomed out of an entrepreneurship class he took at Fisher during his final year as an MBA student. Read about how he made it happen and why he is the 2018 recipient of Fisher’s Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship.

What brought you to The Ohio State University?

I worked for Whirlpool, and they sent me to Columbus in 2005 to work in sales, marketing and management jobs. After four years of working in the corporate world, I decided that I wanted to pursue my MBA. When Whirlpool wanted me to take a job at the corporate office and move to Michigan, I knew it was time to make my move.

I had always admired The Ohio State University, and I lived in Grandview and was always around it. I applied to the Fisher College of Business MBA program — it was a top 25 program — and if I was accepted, it was a no-brainer. I studied real estate and real estate development. I wanted to work in the renovation of buildings in old neighborhoods, which is something I had done in my volunteer life, working with nonprofits.

Nate DeMarsHow did your experience at Fisher shape your career path?

My business is a direct offshoot of my time at Ohio State. I took an entrepreneurship class the winter quarter of my final year. What originally was to be an idea for a class project became a business plan, and after a quarter of working on it, that idea ultimately became PurSuit. I decided it had some potential and it was something I enjoyed. So I spent the next three months determining the feasibility of the business. I graduated in June 2011 and opened the business in October of that year.

What is your favorite memory as a student?

The one I talk about the most is taking a half-baked idea for a different type of suit store into "pitch day" in the only entrepreneurship course I've ever taken. Pretty fascinating to think how that one assignment changed the entire course of my life.

The funniest memory though came a few weeks before that during my second year of the MBA program. During finals of the fall semester, right before Christmas break, I came down with chicken pox. I ended up spending three days at Ohio State’s Medical Center before going home to Wisconsin for Christmas. In an effort to disguise the aftermath, I grew my beard very long over the holidays and ended up winning the 'Fisher Beard Competition' when classes resumed in January. I believe that is the last Fisher award I received prior to receiving Fisher’s Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship.

Nate DeMars graduating from Ohio State in 2011 What makes Fisher unique?

The passion of the students and the desire of the faculty and staff to steer them toward success. Over the years, faculty and staff have connected me with many passionate young Fisher students who are making their own way. I see entrepreneurship becoming a higher priority among Fisher students, and the university is trying to offer a variety of experiences to support all types of entrepreneurship. I feel very fortunate that, as an alumnus, that Fisher has remained engaged with, I get to see that growth close up.

What advice/insight do you have for Ohio State alumni and students interested in your career field?

I think when people want to become entrepreneurs, they automatically assume they need to start a business right after they graduate. Those four years I spent with a Fortune 500 company gave me invaluable experience — certainly training I would not have gotten if I went out directly on my own. There’s value in getting different experiences and not feeling you need to be locked into one career path simply because that’s where you started.

 

Portions of this content were provided by The Ohio State University Alumni Association.