Mei Shibata

Co-Founder, ThinkEco, Inc. & CEO, Essense Partners

”What Harvard helped me with was to see the full picture. It’s not just about the technology, it’s [about] technology and commercialization and being able to think through from the get-go what some of those big variables are…. in order to make it a success. Having the skillset on both sides to be able to imagine all the possibilities technology-wise and business-wise were critical.”

Before founding ThinkEco, an Internet of Things startup in the energy space, Mei Shibata earned her BA in Physics and later a Masters in Engineering from Harvard. A few years later, she received her MBA from HBS, where she was exposed to and inspired by the diversity of experience and thinking.

“The biggest practical lesson that we learned at HBS was that you could have 80 people in the same class, reading the same case, and have 80 different interpretations on it—all well thought-out and reasoned. To me that’s fascinating. It’s very humbling to realize that other people can have drastically different and very intelligent opinions about something and it made me a lot more aware. I can almost hear my classmates talking to me about what they would do with my business and it’s very useful having those perspectives.”

Founding a company was not Mei’s purpose for attending both SEAS and HBS. And while it took five years for the idea of ThinkEco to come to fruition, the business acumen she received at HBS, paired with her engineering expertise, set her up for success.

Today, ThinkEco is working to transform the industry to ensure clean energy can be attained by all in an affordable manner. And since founding the company in 2008, she has also created Essense Partners, an award-winning global marketing agency in the energy industry that was inspired by her experiences at ThinkEco.

Mei’s achievements in the past decade since founding ThinkEco are impressive. And she thinks she may have started her entrepreneurial journey earlier had the MS/MBA program existed back then.

“The opportunity to learn different things and to discover what I might want to do and to cast a wider net on the discovery part, that definitely would’ve been interesting to me. I think it’s great for people who know they’re intellectually curious about the intersection of business and technology but may not know exactly what they want to do.”