Jason Lee, JD/MBA ’07, originally enrolled in graduate school to fill a specific gap—his English skills.
Through the law and MBA programs at the University at Buffalo, however, the Korean immigrant gained much more than that, developing both the legal mind and business acumen to succeed in corporate law.
After graduating in 2007 and joining a Wall Street firm, Lee enjoyed a significant early advantage over his peers because of his familiarity with concepts like private equity and EBITDA (a measure of company performance)—so much so that he survived multiple layoffs when the economy tumbled during his first two years as an associate.
“My MBA, especially accounting classes, helped me stand out in that highly competitive field,” Lee says. “I love being ambidextrous in having the skills and decision-making capabilities of two professions.”
Early in his career, Lee noticed how antiquated the process of drafting legal documents could be and began generating ideas for a better solution. At the same time, he also saw the fulfillment his parents found in their own businesses and wanted that experience for himself.
All of this led Lee to launch his own startup in 2015: Celant Innovations, which provides dynamic tools to streamline and automate the document generation process and any related workflow. As CEO, he uses his dual skill sets writing patent applications, preparing financial statements, negotiating contracts and, most importantly, making informed decisions based on multiple perspectives.
“Entrepreneurship is like surviving in the wild—with limited resources, you need to bring order to chaos and will only go as far as your weakest link,” Lee says. “Without a doubt, the hardest challenge was going from zero to one—earning that first dollar with a new product and becoming profitable. But it was also deeply satisfying, and I attribute much of that success to the great education I received at UB.”
Written by Matthew Biddle, this story originally appeared as part of the cover feature in the autumn 2019 issue of Buffalo Business.