In a 2017 interview for the Ross School of Business Dividend magazine, Nicaila Matthews Okome, MBA ’15, declared: “I’m starting Side Hustle Pro with a mic and a dream."
Fast-forward three years after the launch of Side Hustle Pro, and Okome’s dream is inspiring legions of podcast listeners each week, consistently ranked as one of the Top 100 most downloaded podcasts in the Apple iTunes store, and — most recently — named as one of 15 top podcasts for women in Oprah Winfrey’s O, The Oprah Magazine.
“In true meta form, Side Hustle Pro began as a blog that informed women of color how to grow their businesses, and then it grew into its own fruitful podcast and is now Okome’s main gig,” noted O. For what began as Okome’s own side hustle (in addition to her full-time position as senior manager of digital marketing at NPR) has become a prime example of the entrepreneurial success that Okome talks about with her Side Hustle Pro guests.
It was Okome’s own passion for entrepreneurship and the fact that she, as an African American woman, didn’t see herself represented in the narrative of entrepreneurship that prompted her to grab a microphone in 2016 and start the Side Hustle Pro podcast in her living room with the goal of changing the entrepreneurial paradigm. She began interviewing African American women who had turned their part-time startups into profitable full-time ventures.
By all accounts, Okome’s inspiration and entrepreneurial intuition has paid off, not only for the millions of people who have downloaded episodes of her podcast, but also for Okome. She has expanded her podcast brand to include a community of “ambitious side hustlers” and a training program to help others launch podcasts of their own.
As O puts it: “Now that ‘don’t quit your day job’ has morphed into ‘don’t quit your day job, but also get another one!’ Okome is here to help you follow your passions all the way to a profitable side hustle.”
Okome is one of many Michigan Ross students and alumni part of the rapidly growing podcast industry. And Michigan Ross now has two MBA student podcasts - Business Beyond Usual and Working for the Weekend - which provide a glimpse into student life in full-time and part-time MBA programs.