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George Mason UniversitySchool of Business

Finance Alumnus, Entrepreneur: Sky’s the Limit

Written by Katherine Johnson on .

Tim KeoughDeciding to attend Mason was the right choice at the right time for Tim Keough. His older brother had attended Mason, he could continue rowing as part of the Crew Club, and he was offered an academic scholarship from the University Scholars program.

“Mason’s programs for business were up and coming, and certainly the roster of faculty was interesting to me. I always had an affinity towards business and finance. I felt like Mason was a good fit for me. With all of those factors, it seemed like the right choice. I haven’t regretted it,” Keough said.

After graduating with his finance degree in 1995, Keough started with Anderson Consulting, now Accenture. He worked in the telecommunications and finance group, which is where he first became interested in technology and development. He stayed a few years with Anderson Consulting, but quickly figured out that a big organization wasn’t for him.

He moved on to doing web development for an insurance startup, staying a year before deciding he was ready to forge his own path. “Right or wrong, smart or dumb, I decided that I could do this startup thing. That’s when I got into entrepreneurship for myself, and started up my first company back in the late 90s and was off and running,” Keough said.

Since making his initial decision to become an entrepreneur 20 years ago, he has started, built, and sold four technology companies. For Keough, the most appealing thing about entrepreneurship is that loves when he can do something and affect a change immediately.

“I also loved the fact that the sky’s the limit. It’s a clean slate and you can do whatever you want,” he said. “There was the opportunity to create something new and build it up, and have a good time being creative and innovative in a market and having a decent career out of it as well.”

Unlike resources and communities of like-minded people available to entrepreneurs today, Keough said it was a challenge not having a support group when he started out.

“There wasn’t as much of a community of entrepreneurs or other people to connect with and chat with. I kind of forged my own path and made some mistakes along the way, that I’m quite certain had I been more engaged with other folks that had been there and done that, I wouldn’t have made those mistakes. I learned the hard way,” he said.

However, he said entrepreneurs face new challenges today, like getting the right people, creating a team, getting contracts, or people interested in using your product. Keough said entrepreneurs can use their creativity to solve these problems.

Most recently, Keough started his newest venture WythMe in January 2016. WythMe is a reverse auction platform that gets restaurants and bars to bid on customers, with offers and discounts. He said the idea came to him a few years ago when organizing a happy hour for colleagues and friends. It was a lot of legwork and he thought there’s got to be a better way.

Today they have more than 3,000 restaurant and food service locations, from fine dining to ice cream and coffee shops, participating across the U.S. serving tens of thousands of end users.

Keough is largely responsible for the company’s strategic initiatives, whereas he used to be more hands on with his companies. He focuses on building partnerships and the company’s team, identifying the right executive leadership, and looking for opportunities to build the business rapidly and efficiently.

Currently he serves on the School of Business Alumni Chapter as a director-at-large. Keough is also very involved with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, working with student entrepreneurs and serving as a judge in the Annual Business Competition. He was recognized as a School of Business 20 Prominent Patriot in 2014.

“I want people going to Mason to have access to people that may be able to give them insight into their career or if they move into entrepreneurship,” Keough said.

“You have many more opportunities now as an entrepreneur and innovator than you ever had when I graduated. It was a lot harder, just because there was less of a community. Now it’s relatively easy to start up something new, try it, and innovate to disrupt an industry,” he said. “I think Mason’s promoting that, and supporting innovation and supporting the community of entrepreneurs. It’s a very powerful message, and the direction that we want as Mason alumni.”