Thompson Aderinkomi has had a love for business and leadership since high school when he was president of the Minnesota chapter of Business Professionals of America. That experience was the catalyst for him setting a goal of someday becoming a CEO of a Fortune 100 company.
Much has changed since he set that goal, however. He no longer aspires to work at a Fortune 100 company. After all, he has just been too busy - and loving - being the CEO of the companies that he has started on his own.
For the many who know Aderinkomi, he has always been a gifted conversationalist and networker. "In every conversation I have, I'm always looking for a good laugh, to learn something valuable, and to make people feel good about themselves," he says.
That gift for gab, along with unwavering determination, has helped him accomplish much over his years. He holds a BA in statistics, a BS in economics, and an MS in statistics from the University of Minnesota. For his master's thesis, he successfully built a statistical model that predicts the authorship of disputed ancient works. The project required him to learn Greek, and it took convincing his professor who initially had doubts given the enormous undertaking.
"My thesis captures the spirit of who I am," says Aderinkomi. "Once I decide that something should be done, I set out on a course to achieve my task."
Not surprising, the first business he started in 2006, an automated revenue cycle management company, was born out of just that kind of attitude.
But it was after starting the Carlson MBA Full-Time program when Aderinkomi really began to realize his true calling.
Back then he was still pursuing his original goal and spent the time leading up to, and well into, his first semester in 2009 networking with business leaders who were in the Carlson network. "I was on a search to find out in which industry I would plant my roots and rise to the level of CEO of some Fortune 100 company," he recalls. "I knew that I could achieve my goals by leveraging the Carlson network."
Yet, those conversations served a dual purpose. He was also garnering feedback on a business idea that he and a former co-worker had for a healthcare data analysis firm. That idea turned into a company called Evidity, at which Aderinkomi currently serves as CEO.
It was not long thereafter when it hit Aderinkomi.
He had started two companies. Moreover, he enjoyed the process of doing so. Also, the new insights he was gaining daily through the Carlson MBA program were having an impact on how he was visualizing his career outlook.
"I wanted to write my own story," he says, recalling the time he decided on a new career direction. "I realized my true passion was in building companies that create value for their customers and employees. That, more than anything, is what I wanted to do."
Further solidifying his career decision was his involvement in the Carlson Ventures Enterprise (CVE). "It's a great program where you learn from and work with entrepreneurs facing the same challenges I am facing," he says. "With all of the CVE resources at my disposal, I knew there was no need for me to work for someone else."
"I knew right away that Thompson Aderinkomi was an entrepreneur," says Connie Rutledge, associate director, Carlson Ventures Enterprise. "He has the drive to solve problems and the flexibility to navigate around the challenges that come from trying out new ideas."
CVE is currently helping optimize the business model for Aderinkomi's third start-up company, International Equipment Leasing. "Thompson has been the first 'official' student entrepreneur inside of CVE, meaning he has a team of his peers to help him with his business strategy," says Rutledge. "The team has learned a lot from getting the opportunity to work in real time with a start-up and CVE has gained insight into how to provide the most effective support to student entrepreneurs."
"CVE has given me the ability to simultaneously earn my MBA and work on my own businesses," says Aderinkomi. "I cannot even begin to describe how fortunate I am to be able to combine those tasks." He also mentions he is currently playing with an idea for a fourth company as well.
"Through the MBA program, I've been exposed to new concepts and perspectives that I'm able to effectively put into practice," he says, adding that he has greatly enjoyed the knowledge he has gained by competing in multiple case competitions. "My success is a direct result of the program."
After he graduates in 2011, Aderinkomi says he plans to grow his companies and, after years of hard work and network building, he hopes to accomplish another goal he has set for himself: induction into the Carlson School Hall of Fame.
Asked what he hopes will be said during his induction ceremony, Aderinkomi replies, "I would want the presenter to be able to say that a great number of past and future Hall of Fame inductees are in my network and our relationships played a great part in each other's success."