Home Region

Hewlett, NY

Undergrad Education

Dartmouth College, Economics Modified with Chinese, 2010

Previous Experience

Outdoor Pass; co.lab; Zynga; Goldman Sachs

“I thought HBS would be life-changing, but I wouldn’t know how until I got there.”

After two years with Goldman Sachs, Jean Luo landed the kind of job millions dream of: developing games as a product manager at Zynga. “I really enjoyed being a PM; it's like being a mini-general manager with your own P&L. I loved the creative aspect of the role—working with artists, engineers, and designers to understand what drives people and create live features and stories. We were doing something that connected people and made them happy.”

Despite her satisfaction, Jean was eager for more education. “I love being in an environment where the main priority is learning,” she says. “Half the people I knew thought it'd be crazy to take two years away from a successful PM track, and the other half said I’d be crazy not to.”

Ultimately, three things swayed Jean's decision in favor of the HBS MBA. “The first reason was that many of my mentors and senior people I looked up to went to HBS; they said it was the best thing they ever did. Second, every time I’ve made a big decision—starting my career at Goldman Sachs, leaving it for San Francisco—it was life-changing in a positive way. I thought HBS would be life-changing, but I wouldn’t know how until I got there.”

Testing entrepreneurship

Jean’s third reason for attending HBS: “I've always had a hypothesis that I wanted to start my own company; over time, I felt more and more strongly about it.” Despite three years in San Francisco, Jean still hadn’t tested her hypothesis. “But at HBS, I’d have two years to try different things and see how I liked entrepreneurship.”

As early as November in her RC year, Jean began Outdoor Pass, an application that uses machine learning and social graphs to help users identify and participate in local activities with friends and community members. She worked hard on the business, using her summer internship to launch a beta, acquire early suppliers and customers, and conduct product experiments. But Jean finally decided to stop in favor of concentrating on her classes and classmates. “The next step would’ve been paid customer acquisition,” she says. “When some of the early acquisition efforts didn't gain significant traction, I realized I'd have to raise money to fund new acquisition initiatives and see them through over at least the next few years. Even though that was my initial post-graduation plan, based on the beta, I didn't think this was the exact right company and time to do that.”

“Once I started focusing on my next steps after Outdoor Pass, I became open to a lot of different ideas,” says Jean. “I went through a process of determining what I want to do and what I feel most excited about, ultimately focusing on entrepreneurial opportunities at consumer tech companies.”

Jean is joining Snap as a Product Manager in Los Angeles for her first post-graduation position, where she will be working on Snapchat's creative tools including filters and lenses, AR aspects, and monetization. "I love the product, so I'm really looking forward to working at Snap and living in L.A. for the first time," she says. "I still intend to start my own company, just not immediately after school. When it's the right idea and the right time, I'll have my experiences from Outdoor Pass and HBS to draw upon."