Entrepreneurship: A Breath of Fresh Air
PROVO, Utah – Dec 12, 2022 – Whoever said “third time’s the charm” was obviously not an entrepreneur. There’s no magic number for successful business launches, but for Ben Miller, a BYU Marriott School of Business MBA alumnus, finding a profitable business idea took him four tries. He eventually cofounded SimpleNexus, a large, prospering mortgage industry platform that integrates multiple homebuying processes into a single system. In the midst of his success, Miller remembers the influence of the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and what he learned there about seeking and preparing for success.
Miller’s business journey started with a civil engineering undergraduate degree from Florida State University and the realization that his post-grad job had him “bored to death and unhappy.” That is, until the small construction company he worked for started to grow with Miller’s help. He recounts, “I realized that I love to see the growth of businesses and solve their problems. I am a creator at heart.”
When that experience ended, Miller determined that he wanted to put himself in a better position to help companies grow. For him, that meant getting an MBA at the best school he could find—BYU Marriott. Despite feeling worried about being a “solidly average student,” as he describes himself, Miller tried his best and got into BYU Marriott’s MBA program in 2011.
As he learned about various program emphases, Miller realized none of them spoke to his specific interests. “I knew that I enjoyed helping businesses grow, but I had no idea which track to pursue,” he says. BYU Marriott MBA was still a few years away from having an entrepreneurship track, so Miller decided to take advantage of the resources and programs in the Rollins Center.
“Finding the Rollins Center while I was an MBA student was a breath of fresh air,” he remembers. “The center provided a sense of purpose that aligned with who I wanted to become and where I wanted to go.” Hoping to learn more about how to develop his passion for building businesses, Miller explored the center’s resources, absorbed conversations, and embraced opportunities with enthusiasm. “As I talked with people at the center, I learned about and participated in competitions, networked with business owners, read books, and explored business ideas,” he says.
Miller essentially adopted entrepreneurship as his “unofficial” MBA focus. In doing so, he discovered the realities and rigors of business development. He vividly remembers learning eye-opening statistics about new businesses, including that about 90 percent of new ventures fail. Far from deterring him from moving forward, this statistic accustomed him to the idea of failure. “I learned that you might fail, and that’s okay. You just need to start again,” he says.
He began living those realities firsthand during grad school as he explored businesses related to bacteriophage technology, carbon nanotubes, and nanodiamonds. He found himself with not one or two but three failed business ideas all in a row both during and after graduate school. Miller remembers those years being particularly difficult. “I went through three significant failures before I joined SimpleNexus. Even when we started finding success, I experienced some of the most stressful times in my life. And that’s when everything actually worked!” he says.
SimpleNexus proved to be the break Miller needed. As a homeownership platform, SimpleNexus provides clearer communication for homebuyers and creates greater transparency throughout the process of buying a home. The company was recently purchased by nCino, and Miller, together with his business associates, celebrates this incredible opportunity to expand the reach of SimpleNexus.
Along with expecting and embracing failure, Miller believes that achieving success comes from developing strong personal character and having good partners, both in work and in life.
“Some skills and qualities can’t be learned in school, including the grit and determination you develop as an individual. Responding to life’s experiences makes you who you are and determines how you handle hard jobs and challenging circumstances,” Miller reflects. He recounts the importance of these character-building experiences in his life. “I work hard to develop a certain grit so that when I go through tough environments, I have the determination to keep going,” he says.
Grateful for his business partners, Miller continually surrounds himself with strong support and bright minds. He also credits his wife, Brett. “She’s an amazing life partner who supports and understands me,” Miller says, acknowledging that without her, his journey would have looked much different.
Ultimately, Miller strives for kindness and respect as he interacts with people. A simple test stands as an indication of how well Miller and his business associates treat others. “We never want to feel the need to hide from someone we see at Costco,” Miller says with a smile. “We always want to treat every employee, partner, and customer with respect and integrity. That's the lasting impact: to live our lives and do business in a way that makes us proud of everything we've done.”
Miller’s journey comes full circle as he contributes his time and talents to BYU Marriott through answering students’ questions one-on-one and providing a different perspective on tech startups. “I'm always willing to give back where I can because many people spent many hours helping me to learn how to be an entrepreneur and how to be successful in business. It’s deeply fulfilling to pay that kindness forward,” he says.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Samantha Clinger