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The Startup Savant

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Computer science alumnus enjoys a prosperous career in venture-based startups

by Carlos Anchondo ’14

Budgeting can be a nightmare.

For most of us, payday is something we look forward to and money management can often seem like a chore. As the average Joe might tell you, hiring a financial planner is a luxury many people cannot afford, an extra cost to factor in.

Cue HelloWallet, a web and mobile application that provides personalized financial guidance to people who otherwise could not afford it. As the startup’s former chief technology officer, Mitch Shue ’81 used technology to help individuals make the most of their paychecks and the benefits afforded to them. In 2014, HelloWallet became the wholly owned subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc., where Shue now serves as the head of Morningstar’s Washington, D.C., office. He oversees a staff of more than 60 people that are still largely focused on HelloWallet products.

On an interim basis, Shue is also serving as Morningstar’s CTO leading a global team with resources in the U.S., India, Europe, Australia, and China. He directly manages the Chicago-based tech team that delivers institutional products utilized by financial institutions and advisers. Shue ensures that the correct technology resources are in place worldwide. Regular travel between D.C. and Chicago keeps Shue busy as he adjusts to his expanded role with Morningstar.

“My whole career has been with small, venture-based startup software companies,” Shue says. “Joining Morningstar has been great because its culture aligns quite well with HelloWallet and the increase in scale presents a new set of interesting challenges.”

Among those challenges is positioning Morningstar, already a well-established company in the financial services industry, to grow over the next 20 years or more. With just over a year as head of the D.C. office under his belt, Shue says he will focus on leading others and attracting the top talent available.

Shue says his leadership philosophy is to hire people who are smarter than him and to remove any obstacles that might prevent them for doing their best possible work. Moreover, he says that it is important to lead by example, as many employees look to leadership to see how they behave under pressure and how they treat others.

“Whenever I have interviewed people, I look for people who are smarter than me, who have an opinion, and who have a high degree of energy and passion for their work,” Shue says.

A computer science major, Shue has proven his own commitment to hard work at a series of startups such as Systems Center, Inc., webMethods, Inc., webs.com, Centrifuge Systems, and Transaction Network Services, Inc. He distinctly remembers joining webMethods in 1997 and taking the company public in 2000 for a first-day gain of 508 percent on the stock’s value. Time and time again, Shue has felt what he labels the “race against insolvency,” where products need to get delivered before the startup runs out of funding. Part of Shue’s willingness to take risks on startups is the sheer challenge of it all.

Despite risks, questionable job security, and low wages as the startups got off the ground, Shue says the thrill of creating something meaningful with a solid group of people always enticed him. Whenever a project seemed impossible, it was Shue’s confidence in others that energized him to meet deadlines and find creative solutions. He credits his Trinity computer science professors with laying a “great foundation for an industry that was going to change continuously” and for teaching him how to approach “hard technical problems.” Over his 35-year career, Shue says his greatest challenge has been keeping up with emerging technology.

Moreover, Shue also advises a small startup, Senseware, focused on the Internet of Things, where everyday objects have network connectivity and send and receive data. The company places company-designed sensors and collects previously unavailable data from existing infrastructure like buildings, warehouses, and climate-controlled storage. It also enables people to better manage energy consumption, regulate climates, and detect environmental problems. Intent on driving innovation, Shue says there is no shortage of things to do as a technologist.

As Shue mentors the next generation of startup gurus, he encourages future entrepreneurs to think seriously about their motivations.  

“I wish that more technologists would not focus so much on how to get rich quick, but on how make an impact,” Shue says. “I think we need to apply all of that brain power to hard problems like poverty, the environment, and hunger, so I am hopeful that people will use their tech chops to impact society in a great way.”

With every penny saved, HelloWallet customers can take Shue’s impact to the bank and rest just a little bit easier.

Carlos Anchondo is a writer and editor for University Marketing and Communications. He is a 2014 graduate of Trinity and can be found at canchond [at] trinity.edu or at @cjanchondo.