After Turning Down Harvard Business School, This Entrepreneur Looks to the Future

Noah Glass had a decision to make, and his entire life would unfold in a different direction depending upon that decision.

This was more than a decade ago, back when Glass was just about to head off to graduate school. Before him lay two paths. The first path – by far the more traditional route – was to attend Harvard Business School, that prestigious institution into which Glass had managed to be accepted.

But the second path was more interesting, if a lot riskier. Glass could forgo business school in exchange for $500,000 in seed funding to launch his big app idea.

Now more than a decade later, as CNBC reports, Glass seems happy he took the road less traveled.

His mobile ordering service, known as Olo, is aimed at solving a problem Glass first observed at a coffee shop years ago.

“So the lines [at the coffee shop] would be 20, 30, 40 people deep to get a cup of coffee,” Glass told CNBC. “It led me to thinking there’s got to be a better way than one order at at time going through the cash register.”

That’s where Olo comes in. By allowing customers to skip the lines at their favorite restaurants by ordering and paying ahead of time (in addition to a delivery option for some restaurants), Glass said the app will create more business for shop owners and save time for customers.

Of course, this app idea was born more than a decade ago, before iPhones and Android devices were ubiquitous, so the journey toward success has been a long one.

But by thinking ahead of his time, Glass has now managed to sign deals with about 20,000 restaurants from about 150 brands nationwide, raising $63.25 million in the process.

While the app is not a household name, Glass said he is embracing the idea that they would be “behind the scenes and a technology powering these large brands and invisible to the consumer.”

He plans to expand in the coming months and years by recruiting more of the nation’s 600,000-plus restaurants to sign up for the service.

And who knows? One day he may end up going to Harvard Business School after all – not as a student, but as a battle-hardened keynote speaker.

Head over to CNBC for the full story.