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Free site gives the 'buzz' on business school application

MIT Sloan M.B.A. students Jose Almirall, left, and Tom Duterme created to reduce anxiety among business school applicants.
MIT Sloan M.B.A. students Jose Almirall, left, and Tom Duterme created to reduce anxiety among business school applicants.
Photo / Amy MacMillan

A free web site dedicated to M.B.A. applicants will mitigate the long and stressful process of applying to business schools and will help applicants determine their chances of getting into the school of their choice.

Inspired by their own experiences of applying to business school, M.B.A. '07 students Tom Duterme and Jose Almirall have created MBA Buzz ( to ease the pain for others.

"The (admission) process was veiled in rumors. I was in China when I was applying, and it was hard to connect with the schools," Duterme says.

Almirall says the two of them, along with a few other students, started brainstorming the idea back in 2005 as an idea for the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, but the idea never really got off the ground. Then, Almirall and Duterme decided to collaborate on their own. They scheduled a dinner meeting in December 2005, but that night, Duterme was on his bike and was hit by two cars. Dazed, he escaped with a few cuts and bruises, but their meeting was postponed.

Despite that inauspicious start, Almirall and Duterme launched their web site on Feb. 14, 2006, as a way to make the business school application process more transparent. Business school applicants from all over can register at the free site to create a user profile. Each registrant has a private e-mail box and a list of buzzmates to keep track of friends and other applicants. The site features a graphical interface plotting application where you can see where all of the applicants are, as well as a predictor tool that allows applicants to assess the probability of getting an interview and even getting in. More than 1,000 business school applicants have registered in the past year, according to Duterme.

One of the most interesting aspects of the site is the plotter. Business school applicants enter basic statistical information and can update the status of their school applications. Visitors to the site can plot applicants by business school and then analyze them further-by round, status, age, GPA, GMAT score and other statistics.

The site is a labor of love for Almirall and Duterme, both of whom have poured countless hours into it. Having gone through the admissions process themselves, they knew just what kind of information they would have liked to have had as an applicant. Through MBA Buzz, they enjoy bringing a new level of "transparency" to applications, providing them with a wide range of valuable data to consider as they plot their admissions strategies.

What's the buzz about MBA Buzz? The site has received positive feedback from its users and from bloggers. Charles Hudson, a member of Google's New Business Development team, recently described MBA Buzz as an "interesting (and potentially addictive) web site, especially as the amount of data in the system continues to grow. Definitely worth checking out."

As their time at MIT Sloan comes to an end, Almirall and Duterme are content to watch the site grow as new users register every day. While they may expand the site further in the future, for now they're enjoying the final few months of a whirlwind business school experience. Duterme has accepted a full-time position with Google and Almirall will go work for IBM.

So is business school admission random? "No, it's predictable," said Duterme. "It's a mix of art and science." From the rapid growth of the site and the value it provides to anxious applicants, it's clear that Almirall and Duterme have found a winning combination.

Alexander Slawsby, M.B.A. '07, contributed to this article.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 25, 2007 (download PDF).

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