2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Manas Takalpati, University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Manas Takalpati

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Child-like, listener, adventurous, growth oriented, unnecessarily emotional, introspective, loyal, extrinsically and almost intrinsically motivated.”

Fun fact about yourself: I cry more when watching sad movies than in real-life, sad situations.

Hometown: Morrisville, North Carolina

High School: Panther Creek High School

Major: Business Administration

Minor: Computer Science

Favorite Business Course: Organizational Leadership

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

* Triangle Ventures, Cofounder: Triangle Ventures (trivent.info) is an organization started by Ilyas Colie and I, focused on developing student entrepreneurship at UNC and the greater Triangle area. The goal is to connect students together to build great companies out of North Carolina, and support them through milestone-based funding, mentors, Silicon Valley insights and resources, and much more.

* Roomadillo, Cofounder and COO/CMO: Roomadillo is a startup founded by David Hao, Joseph Kim, and I. It is focused on standardizing the currently dismal subleasing environment. We’re starting in college campuses with a goal of creating a safe, simple way for students to sublease out their place, and for incoming residents to easily find the lease that fits their needs.

* UNC 180 Degrees Consulting, Vice President of Consulting: 180 Degrees UNC is a chapter of the larger 180 Degrees organization. It’s focused on bringing college students together to provide pro-bono consulting services to nonprofits and small businesses. As a VP of consulting, I mainly was tasked with sourcing clients and keeping our student consultant teams organized and prepared for their deadlines.

* TAMID Group, International Board of Directors: TAMID is an organization where college students are connected to hands on business experience in Israel, with opportunities like startup consulting, fund management, fundraising, etc.

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • 2020 – Deloitte in Tel Aviv, Israel, as a summer intern
  • 2021 – Capital One in Mclean, Virginia, as a summer intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working at Roomadillo.com, which is a startup that two others and I cofounded in 2022. Roomadillo is a subleasing marketplace focused on college campuses, aiming to make the subleasing process standardized and safe. I’m responsible for business strategy, partnerships, marketing, and sales. However, our duties aren’t set in stone since startup work requires a lot of cooperation, and we find ourselves working together on a lot of core crucial business decisions.

Who is your favorite business professor? My favorite business professor (who also is now the associate dean of the Undergraduate Business Program) is Shimul Melwani. Since my freshman year, Shimul has been an inspiring and engaging teacher, one who I have wanted to emulate in so many ways. She’s great at communicating ideas, showing real insights into human behavior and leadership, and also employs the information she teaches in her own life.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Studying only business itself is not enough to gain a core understanding of value creation and good execution. The most insights and growth come from applying business knowledge – such as during case competitions or consulting gigs – along with interdisciplinary cooperation with fields like computer science and philosophy Business isn’t a subject to learn, it’s a way of thinking that focuses on value creation and the many stakeholders involved in it.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would tell them to major in both business and another field because it opens their perspective in so many ways. Although many people suggest a secondary technical major, it’s not bad to try something else like philosophy or public policy. Also, the only way to really stand out in business is not just to have a good GPA, but to rigorously implement the skills you learn. Look to build or do something all the time – join a competition or incubator, create a club focused on the area you care about, work with other students to test startup ideas and create a company. Do literally anything you are passionate about, and just try to make it work. You will learn and retain 100 times more than just studying for exams.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I was most surprised by the influx of students to consulting, banking, and marketing as the main careers. There is tremendous support for those fields at the business school, and it makes sense that students are attracted to high-paying and high-status jobs like those. However, there were a lot fewer students interested in startups or venture capital than I expected. That narrative is changing though, with program directors like Shimul Melwani and Jordan Hale working to promote innovation and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would start my time at the business school invested in the startup and venture capital environment rather than diving head-first into consulting as my main track. Although I did enjoy the consulting clubs, classes, and environment I was in, I really wish I had spent more time with students in other majors – working on ideas and making them a reality. I realized over time that I didn’t necessarily like consulting. Rather, I was passionate about value creation and innovation of systems and processes – which are best pursued in the startup realm.

What business leader do you admire most? I admire business leaders who are focused on value creation and not value extraction. They are the ones who are looking for completely new ideas and societal shifts, which means they are focused on innovation and not trying to squeeze as much money as they can out of the current market. A lot of people fit that category, but the one who got me interested in building a startup of my own is the founder of AirBnb, Brian Chesky. His process is the process I follow today: continual testing, iterations, talking to users/customers all the time, being open and kind, and collaborating with others to make things happen. AirBnb was a crazy idea in 2010 – imagine people being okay with letting anyone sleep in their homes. It took persistence and continually updating the product and user experience to changing people’s mindsets, along with positioning how Airbnb is an additional income stream that is safe and enjoyable.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of working on Roomadillo.com, alongside David Hao and Joseph Kim. I was fortunate enough to be asked by David to join as a co-founder and business lead in 2020, and it’s singlehandedly been the cause of my complete shift to the startup world. It has also been the source of most of what I learned over the past year. There has been no other experience like this one which forced me to understand so many critical components of building a business, and creating something of real value. Although Roomadillo is still early on in its journey, I have no doubt we will be changing the landscape of student housing and student leasing throughout the United States. David and Joey are two incredibly talented and driven people, and it’s because of them that I am so passionate about startups and our mission to change subleasing for the better. I am incredibly happy to have met and known them as people, and I’m proud of how we’ve grown, faltered, built, rejoiced, and lamented together.

Which classmate do you most admire? This is a really difficult question. I’ve been fortunate to meet some of the most amazing people in the entire world (I truly believe this) at UNC and also at UNC Kenan-Flagler. One of my classmates (and also my roommate) who continually makes me a better person in every way has been Ilyas Colie. Although Ilyas is majoring in philosophy, we share a ton of similarities in regards to startup passion, an enjoyment of business and innovation discussion, love for good food and movies/shows, and similar ideas of how we should live and grow as people. He is a very insightful person and can boil ideas down to their core tenets. He can explain complicated things in a simple way. I’ve learned so much from Ilyas, and my time around him gave me a lot of hope and courage during periods of college when I was struggling in my personal life. Now, Ilyas and I are working on Triangle, which is an organization focused on building entrepreneurs and startups out of UNC and the greater Research Triangle area. We are launching an incubator, coworking space, and speaker series, along with amazing events and mentors to take forward student innovation and student success.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Success is a weird word – for me success would be marrying the right person and raising a supportive family (surprisingly enough it’s not about building a billion-dollar company). Wherever I am today, I can attribute to so many different people, not just one person. However, I will always have gratitude for Jackie Fritsch – she gave me the Cato Scholarship to attend UNC Kenan-Flagler, and it was through her that I was able to experience and live college the way I did. She gave me the most amazing thing in college – freedom. I had the freedom and peace of mind to explore what I wanted to, and try all sorts of global experiences, without feeling the monetary pressure that others feel. I didn’t have to pick up a part-time job, nor did I need to take out a loan. It’s given me an incredible drive to provide back to students as much as I can towards the future – students with a free education can truly explore college and have high level growth.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Create one of the world’s best startup incubators and venture capital funds out of North Carolina – make Research Triangle Park the next Silicon Valley. Another is to make the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

What are your hobbies? As I’m writing this, I realize my hobbies and tastes are everywhere so I apologize in advance. Music is my soul – I enjoy melody and lyrics and how they can be blended to invoke emotions within people. I’ve been picking up guitar and learning how to sing (although I definitely need a teacher, I’m not sounding great right now). I also love to cook, travel, have philosophical discussions, watch futbol and the Champions League, try various draft beers, play video and card games, play volleyball and badminton, weightlift, read books, and listen to podcasts.

What made Manas such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Manas is someone who lights up a room when he walks into it. With his natural creativity and flexibility, he sees the world from a different lens, and this is apparent in the path he will be taking post-UNC. His subleasing marketplace, Roomadillo, focuses on increased access to affordable housing for students and already operates in 24 colleges around the U.S. His commitment to innovation is demonstrated by his other new venture, Triangle Ventures, which seeks to provide entrepreneurship resources to students at UNC. With his brilliance and his focus, he inspires confidence and is always seeking to grow. He participated in UNC Kenan-Flagler’s flagship GLOBE program, a three-semester cohort-based study-abroad program and did so while managing a double major in business and computer science. Importantly, with his empathy and care for others, he actively listens to others and connects deeply across all differences – and does so with a deep moral compass.

The best leaders serve as visionaries, managing tasks and setting goals, while also deeply caring about engaging positively with their followers – and do all of this while staying true to their values. Manas does all of that and more. His deep conviction combined with his creativity and openness to new ideas, his passion for learning and progress, and his all-encompassing dedication to his works, enables him to inspire those he works with. Manas is a student who has made UNC Kenan-Flagler better in every way.”

Shimul Melwani
Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior

Jackie Fritsch
Associate Director, Admissions and Recruitment, Undergraduate Business Program


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