Earlier this week, Michael Sikand ‘18 spoke to Michael Acheatel’s business and entrepreneurship students. Sikand, currently attending the University of Michigan, spoke about how he was first introduced to business studies in his freshman year at Harker.
“When I pulled up to Harker in freshman year … I didn’t even think [business] was something people studied or that people thought about,” he said, adding that he now views his first B.E. class with Juston Glass as “one of the greatest gifts” he has experienced in life. “What high schools are allowing you to immerse yourself in the world of B.E. in freshman year?” he asked.
During his time at Harker, Sikand got heavily involved with DECA and helped start the Harker Incubator program, the first high school program of its kind. “It exposed to me to a lot of great ideas, and I’ve always been someone who loved helping others succeed and telling other peoples’ stories and enabling other people to get excited about business,” he said.
After graduating, Sikand headed to the University of Michigan to study at the Ross School of Business, where he and fellow Harker alum Dolan Dworak ‘18 came up with an idea for a company called Pythia, which would connect college professors to companies “to do business projects with corporate data.” The company failed, as Sikand put it, because “merging academia and business is very difficult because the incentives are misaligned and we wanted to be the intermediary that did it, but we didn’t really have the funding to do it.”
Nevertheless, Sikand said the experience was valuable because it helped him build relationships with professors at Michigan. “I know professors at Michigan on a first-name basis and that just created huge dividends for me because it’s enabled to me to kind of network with the smartest and most successful people on campus,” he said.
Sikand later started a business podcast and media company, both called “Our Future.” Aimed at young professionals seeking a shorter, more entertaining business podcast, “Our Future” has grown considerably in popularity since its inception, reaching, by his estimate, thousands of people each week. His guests have included notable business leaders, entrepreneurs and other figures, including executives from the NBA and AirBNB as well as legendary entrepreneurs such as Guy Kawasaki.
Recently, Sikand has been looking into ways to expand the podcast into other media. “I realized that what I was doing went beyond audio; I wanted to create a multimedia startup that really spoke to the young professional that’s intellectually curious and wants to learn and grow in the business world,” he said. To this end, he started a newsletter to deliver weekly advice and information from top business leaders. He is currently exploring additional ways to distribute this content.