UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA FOUNDATION

Carlson School grad builds Porch.com

Asha Sharma says the U helped give her courage to follow her business dreams

Some might have wondered why Asha Sharma would leave her marketing job at Microsoft to work for a start-up in the basement of its founder’s rented Seattle house three years ago. But to Sharma, the decision made sense.

The Carlson School of Man­agement alumna, who did seven internships and started a non­profit before she graduated in 2010, knew she wanted to build organizations, not just work in them. And she was looking for a challenge. “I wanted to solve really hard problems,” she says.

As chief operating officer of Porch.com, Sharma does exactly that. She’s helped build the com­pany’s 300-plus workforce and is tackling a problem that vexes homeowners: finding the best home improvement professionals.

Sharma, a recipient of the Harold Goldfine Scholarship and Walter Deubener Entrepreneurship Grant, says the experiences she had at the U not only helped her figure out what she wanted to do but also gave her the guts to do it. “A great university gives you the mentors, experi­ence, qualifications, and most importantly, the courage to be fearless, to do something you really believe in.”

She’s already thinking about those coming behind her. “It’s our duty to invest in the generation to come,” she says. “We have a long ways to go until we can solve all of the problems out there.”