Entrepreneurship with Alum Josh Steimle

steimle-joshua-largeWhen Josh Steimle won the BYU business plan competition (now known as the Miller New Venture Challenge) in 2001, he was awarded the $5,000 he needed to make payroll for the week and the confidence to keep his new company, MWI, going for the next twelve years.

“There have been many days when I felt like a failure,” says Steimle, who graduated in 2002 with a master’s degree in information systems management, “but looking back on some of those awards makes me think, ‘If we won all those awards I can’t be that much of a fool. All those people believed in me, so I’ve got to figure out how to make this work.’”

MWI, which Steimle founded in 1999 while still an undergraduate, now offers everything needed for online marketing. They have clients worldwide, including big names like Sony, LG, and Novell. Steimle is the company’s CEO, and he’s willing to admit that it’s the only job he’s kept for more than five months.

“When I started MWI I never thought I would be running it for this long,” he says. “Over time my goals changed from merely wanting to make money to wanting to change the world for the better. And I’d like to think I’ve been changed as these experiences have taught me to be less judgmental of others and less ego-driven.”

Though Steimle is mostly focused on MWI, he describes himself as a “stereotypical entrepreneur” and has the side projects to prove it. He is a board member for the Management Society’s Hong Kong chapter, maintains his blog donloper.com, and writes as a contributor for Forbes Online and several other freelance outlets. He’s also writing a book about all those foolish failures, called You Might Be an Entrepreneur If . . .

“The first seven years of running MWI were very difficult, mostly due to bad decisions on my part,” Steimle says. “Now I’m in a much better place, and I’m putting together all those experiences into a book, but with commentary given in hindsight. I have three objectives with the book: first, to show the harsh reality of what entrepreneurship can be like so that those going into it are aware of the risks; second, to let those entrepreneurs who are going through what I went through know that they are not alone; and third, to show that even when things are as bad as they were for me, once you take responsibility for it all, you can work your way through and overcome those challenges.”

Though his work involves a lot of it, Steimle still loves writing. He also counts skateboarding, triathlons, trail running, and reading among his hobbies. He and his wife, Brynn, live with their two children in Hong Kong, where they are opening up a new MWI office.

Check out the winter issue’s class notes for more alumni stories and updates.