“For me, the Anderson ’badge’ is a lifetime badge. Relationships in the alumni network are extremely valuable, and include those I built with my classmates and also with professors. And so I felt that it was appropriate to give because it sets the right example.”
When UCLA Anderson Dean Tony Bernardo reached out to the alumni community to consider donating to the newly established One Anderson Student Relief Fund, Ivan Todorov (’20) answered the call. “The reason I gave is to support future students and help them to be able to have the same transformational experience that I did,” Todorov says.
“I was also really pleased with how Anderson teaches the concepts of technology management through the lens of advancing and accelerating business performance.”
In 2001, Todorov started his first company, BLITZ, a digital product and brand ecosystem marketing agency. He built it into a respected, award-winning digital agency, leading to its successful sale in 2015 to Advantage Solutions, the global agency highly ranked by Ad Age.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life,” Todorov says. “I started my first company very early, pretty much right out of college. I met a lot of great people, built a company and then I had a successful exit.”
Todorov says he learned a lot during those 15 years — including what he didn’t know. “You start realizing that you have knowledge gaps. We were able to make a lot of good decisions intuitively but there were also shortcuts and mistakes. We could have avoided several if I’d have had an MBA,” he says, looking back on his decision to enter Anderson’s Executive MBA program. “After I sold my business, it was a really good time to get an MBA, fill those gaps, with the goal that the next company I build, I’ll build a lot quicker and a lot better than the previous one.”
That “next company” is digital transformation consultancy Future-State, which Todorov founded in 2019. Much of Future-State’s work revolves around building digital products for companies and assisting them in using technology to a competitive advantage through marketing automation, CRM systems and work and productivity enhancement tools. Future-State also custom builds consumer-facing apps for its clients. “I’m very focused on good user experience and usability, along with beautiful design,” Todorov says.
The EMBA experience had some unexpected benefits for the veteran entrepreneur. “The really great, surprising benefit for me was how focused the program was on teaching leadership and ethics,” he says. “Leadership was something that for a long time I thought was like a unicorn skill that few people had and that they were born with it, and it wasn’t something you can learn. What I got out of Anderson was that it’s actually a skill that can be taught and learned. For me, that was a very valuable asset — how to be a good leader, how to build teams, how to manage difficult situations. I was also really pleased with how Anderson teaches the concepts of technology management through the lens of advancing and accelerating business performance. It’s not about writing code, but really understanding how to use technology to build better companies.”
The One Anderson Student Relief Fund supports fellowships for the incoming class of 2022, technology upgrades to enable remote learning and a pivot in programming.
Todorov was influenced to give because of the total experience the Anderson curriculum offered, he says: “The academics were really excellent, and my experience is that if you give it your all, you will get back a tremendous amount.”