Say Hello to
, BK Class of
and Founder & CEO of
. We recently chatted with Mike to learn more about his story and success, and this is what he shared with us:
What is Jelli?
Jelli is the largest audio ad platform - we are the technology that powers the business model that keeps music listening free. We work with all the major radio groups and reach over 270 million people every month, more than Google or Facebook! We are a technology company with offices in Silicon Valley, Boise and New York. We are growing rapidly and have raised $46 million of venture capital to date from great investors like First Round Capital (investor in Uber), Relay Ventures, Intel Capital, iHeartMedia (the largest radio group) and Universal Music Group (the largest record label).
How did Jelli come to be?
I was at Microsoft working on an unrelated strategic project, and learned how big the radio industry is, both in terms of listening but also the size of the market, which is $18 billion just in the United States. However, I also learned that the technology that is used in the radio industry is very antiquated. It was clear that it would be a huge opportunity to start a company to develop software to help the industry evolve to compete in the era of Google and Facebook.
How did your experience at Bishop Kelly High School shape you into the person you are today?
BK taught me many things -- how to focus, how to accept challenges head on, what it means to be on a team, how to develop amazing friendships that spanned all sorts of personal backgrounds. But the most important thing BK did for me was provide self-confidence to go for it. It led me to try to do bigger things in my life than I would have done otherwise. I really appreciate that about my experience at BK.
How did your time at BK help you write your success story?
BK truly was a launching pad for me. The school provided me with so many opportunities.
The academics were the foundation, of course. But so was the chance to play sports all four years, and participate in student government. It prepared me well to attend Harvard, and then I drew from some of these experiences in my professional life. I would not be where I am today without my time at Bishop Kelly.
Which BK teacher was your biggest inspiration?
There were so many - Mrs. Brown sparked my interest in learning. Mr. Krewer gave me confidence to think big. Sister Lilian forced us all to bring our A-game every day, which was a life lesson. Mr. Bate cultivated my interest in liberal arts and creative writing. All of these experiences made me who I am today.
What is your fondest memory of Bishop Kelly?
I remember the long “Hoosier” bus rides with our basketball team to play against these little towns all over Idaho. Some of my best friends from BK were on those buses. Plus there were great stories: the time we had to have (practically) an armed guard driving out of the Kuna parking lot; the time we drove to the little town of Fruitland expecting a small town operation, and found instead this huge modern gym, a mecca to basketball, with a crowd of crazy locals to match. So many great memories and stories from those bus rides and towns.
What is your advice for current BK students and our young, aspiring entrepreneurs?
Boise has an amazing technology community that is growing. Startups and technology companies need great talent who have educations in STEM, and especially computer science. BK can be a feeder to this community and allow Boise to grow into a true tech hub.
Tech jobs are great careers, too. Technology companies are driving growth in our economy and will be attractive employers for decades to come.
Anything else you wish to add?
BK remains a big part of my life. As Jelli launched our office in Boise, it was great to make alumni connections who helped us grow in Boise. Our shared experience of Bishop Kelly created an instant bond that went a long way to our Silicon Valley-based company feeling welcome in Boise.