The More Unknown, the Better: A profile on Impact Fellow Mitchell Wulfman
By Jake Harper
A common theme runs through the staff and students at Sorenson Impact: curiosity. People hail from all walks of life, with a wide array of educational backgrounds, professional experience, family dynamics, cultures, interests, hobbies and more. An innovative social impact center like Sorenson has seemed to attract people who want to do, learn, and experience a little bit of everything. Mitchell Wulfman, one of our phenomenal impact investing students, is no exception.
He worked as a coder for several years for a variety of start-ups but eventually hit a wall. “Often when you’re a coder, you’re just building what someone else told you to build,” he said. “Depending on your role, you don’t have much say in what goes on.” In response to this realization, he went back to school and began designing user experience (UX) interfaces.
This design strategy is a stark contrast to what Mitchell calls “The Steve Jobs approach.” “When you see a company like Apple succeed because one [person] decided it needed to, that’s not because that’s normally possible. It’s because they got really lucky and guessed right. What you don’t see is the failure of the other 99% of companies built on individual opinion that don't use research and empathy to figure out the best solution.” User interface designs, on the other hand, put the user or customer first when designing a product or service. This was perfectly aligned with Mitchell's modus operandi because, predictably, few people know about it and even fewer were using it.
Mitchell decided it was time to get the full business school experience and headed for Utah. Shortly thereafter, he saw Sorenson Impact posters around campus with Warren Buffet’s face on them, and they caught his attention. He applied to be an impact investing fellow, where his application involved pitching a deal that had already been invested in. He was selected for the fellowship and now, as an Impact Investing Fellow, the team has the opportunity to reevaluate the same company as they gear up for a second round of investing. “I did my training on a company that got funded and now we’re coming back to look at it for a second round. That’s really cool, because they’re making an impact with real people.”
He’s currently preparing to represent Sorenson Impact at SOCAP, a massive conference in San Francisco that brings together people from the far reaches of the impact investing world. He’s excited about the event, because, “You get to rub shoulders with established analysts in the field,” he said.
Mitchell’s penchant for the uncharted is part of his extracurricular life as well. He recently began training for an IRONMAN race, which would be a fairly normal thing to do, if he had experience in any of the triathlon’s events. “I’d never done freestyle swimming, so I learned how to swim. I’d never done road biking, so I learned how to bike. I’d never done distance-running so I learned how and ran two half marathons this summer.”
Another one of his hobbies is teaching people about blockchain. “I’ve had the privilege of meeting with the dean of a business school, bankers, and venture capitalists all over Utah to explain the underlying concepts of blockchain.” His interest in teaching about blockchain is, as many might guess, that it’s difficult, new, and very few people understand it.
Mitchell’s thirst for the unconquered is exactly why he thrives at Sorenson Impact and why he’s undoubtedly headed for big, new, unexplored endeavors.