Online MBA Student’s Startup Featured In Forbes, Credits Michigan Ross For Helping Her Grow The Business

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Along with starting in the new Online MBA program at the Ross School of Business this fall and working full time at Fannie Mae, Liza Kameen, OMBA ’22, has been focused on building her own business. Paintru, an e-commerce site she launched with her husband in 2019, was recently profiled in Forbes for its potential to “revolutionize the market for made-to-order art.”

Paintru specializes in turning photographs into works of art by connecting customers with local artists via an online platform. Kameen said the motivation behind Paintru stemmed from a desire to have a beloved photo painted for an anniversary, but discovering that the options were very expensive and had long production times. “We realized there had to be a better way,” she said. 

While Kameen and her husband began hiring website builders and developing the business plan for Paintru, she was also applying to the Michigan Ross Online MBA program. 

“I recognized that I was launching a company and didn’t know about certain areas of running a business, such as marketing and finance,” she said. In addition, Kameen thought an MBA would help accelerate her career at Fannie Mae, where she works in human analytics. 

After only a few months into the online MBA program, Kameen said she has already been able to apply knowledge gained in the accounting and statistics classes directly to managing Paintru’s growth. As Forbes noted, the company has taken off thanks to an innovative partnership with a framing startup, Framebridge, and expansion into corporate and commercial markets. 

“I’ve been acting as CFO of Paintru, and taking the concepts taught in just those two classes has allowed me to build out our financial statements and conduct market segmentation analysis of the stats behind our customer base,” said Kameen. 

Beyond teaching the skills she needs to successfully grow Paintru, Kameen credits the flexibility of the Ross online program in enabling her to handle her heavy workload and still maintain family life. 

“Between the asynchronous and synchronous classes, the program is flexible enough that I can time block coursework in throughout the week where I have time,” she explained.

Flexibility also was a key factor in Kameen choosing Michigan Ross for her MBA, as the online program allowed her to pursue a degree from an elite business school while not leaving her current position at Fannie Mae, or moving from California, where her husband is stationed in the military. 

So far, one of Kameen’s favorite aspects of the online program has been the synchronous classes with her OMBA classmates and Ross faculty members. 

“The live classes are super interactive, and the professors really include students in conversations — they’ll even cold call you,” she said. “The technology is also amazing; it is even capable of allowing us to break out into group discussions.” 

Looking several years into the future, Kameen said she’d ideally like to be working full time at Paintru, focused on expanding her business. Or, if that doesn’t work out, she plans to use her MBA to move into a more senior level leadership position at Fannie Mae. 

“Regardless of what happens, I’m confident that my MBA degree from Michigan Ross and the connections made in the program will get me to where I want to go,” Kameen said.