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A Fat Startup from Virginia: Andrew Rose, CEO of Compare.com (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Feb 4th 2019

Andrew has raised $185 million for his insurance comparison shopping business. Read on to see how.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What kind of background?

Andrew Rose: I’m from the mountains of West Virginia. I grew up in a town that is rather famously called the Greenbrier. There’s an incredible resort facility there. I grew up on the wrong side of the fence. I didn’t grow up in the Greenbrier side of the fence, but my mother was an elementary school teacher there. It was a wonderful place to grow up and that’s where I have my foundations.

Sramana Mitra: What about education? What did you do for college or university? What path did you take?

Andrew Rose: I’m a chemical engineer by original training . I started my undergraduate studies in upstate New York at a tiny little university called the Alfred University, studying Ceramic Engineering. We always joke that if you did that, you’re either going to make really high-tech toilets or heat shields for the space shuttle.

It was a fantastic school, but personal reasons brought me further south. I ended up at Virginia Tech. It was closer to home there and I pursued Chemical Engineering. That was what I thought I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had a fantastic internship with DuPont in Richmond, Virginia. It was a great experience. I was in R&D. I got a patent for some unique technology that I was part of.

But as I was exiting the very end of my co-op experience with DuPont, I realized I didn’t want to be an engineer for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to work in a plant. So I went back to college for my senior year then talked to the counselor and said “I don’t think I want to be a chemical engineer.”

Luckily, she was smart enough to tell me “You’re too far gone. Finish it off. Why don’t you get a minor at the same time?” I got a minor in business and have never looked back. Coming out of Virginia Tech, I looked at and had plenty of opportunities, which was a great time.

Sramana Mitra: What year was this?

Andrew Rose: This would’ve been 1997.

Sramana Mitra: So the internet boom is in full swing.

Andrew Rose: Exactly! This was a great time to be hunting for jobs. I was incredibly fortunate to have a variety of opportunities but was swayed as a young pseudo-professional at the time. I chased the highest dollar. I got the highest dollar offer from Shell. I got to see all of their incredible facilities.

I worked off-shore, deep-water, Gulf of Mexico. I helped build the gigantic platforms out in the Gulf of Mexico that produce crude oil, which ultimately ends up in gasoline. It sounded fantastic on paper and in pictures, but it wasn’t for me.

Luckily, I had run into my wife in my senior college. We had reconnected and decided we were going to get married. Because I got to pursue my interest right out of college by going to New Orleans to work for Shell, she said it’s my turn. She ended up coming out of graduate school and getting a job at Richmond, Virginia and I followed her after we got married.

This segment is part 1 in the series : A Fat Startup from Virginia: Andrew Rose, CEO of Compare.com
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