Alum’s Early Setback Sparks Entrepreneurial Passion
One Friday morning in the fall of 2008 during his senior year of college, David Levine ’09 received a phone call with news he had been anticipating — Levine was offered his dream job as a global retail equities trader at Morgan Stanley in New York City.
The following Monday, he watched the news as the Dow Jones tanked 1,000 points. Lehmen Brothers had just gone bankrupt. And Levine’s offer was rescinded the very next day.
Levine looks back at that memory as an early hurdle in his career trajectory that ultimately landed him where he is today — as a successful entrepreneur heading three separate initiatives for which he is wholeheartedly passionate.
“It was back to the drawing board, and this time I decided I'd create something that gave me control over my future,” says Levine. “That was when I became an entrepreneur, whether I realized it or not.”
Levine, a graduate of the College of Charleston School of Business, is the founder and CEO of BuzzyDoc, a patient rewards software platform; founder of Integrateideas, a technology product development incubator; and technical co-founder of Universal Access to Education, an initiative aimed to improve education outcomes.
Though very separate ventures, the three businesses are all interconnected, and share Levine’s vision of increased access to essential resources.
Upon developing the first version of BuzzyDoc, the bedrock of Levine’s business portfolio, he managed all aspects of product sales so he could afford hiring a team of programmers to create a second version of the software platform. That process ultimately led him to create Integrateideas.
“By outsourcing that project, I saw how development agencies worked, and I hated how little they cared about my success,” says Levine. “I saw a huge cost advantage to opening my own office with my own dedicated team, which is how I founded Integrateideas.”
Integrateideas has since incubated several cutting-edge companies and initiatives, one of which is Levine’s Universal Access to Education.
Levine is no stranger to having his hands in multiple projects at once. As a student at the School of Business, his list of extracurriculars included interning at Edward Jones, High Tide Metals and Eastrock Properties; working remotely as an analyst at a private wealth firm in Chicago; and interning as a trader at a hedge fund on Wall Street. In addition, Levine played soccer for the College, participated in the Student Finance and Investment Club, and helped found the School of Business’ Student Real Estate Club.
But one experience that really stuck with him was getting to know Betty and the late Guy Beatty. As a student, Levine received the Beatty Scholarship, which recognizes and supports high-achieving business students. The Beattys created the scholarship in 1997 and made many visits to the School of Business over the years to have lunch with student recipients (Mrs. Beatty still meets with the Scholars annually today). David took part in one of those luncheons and has found that he still calls on things that Mr. Beatty spoke about that day in the course of his current life.
Levine recently returned to campus to attend the Guy and Betty Beatty Scholarship Celebration, commemorating 20 years of philanthropic support from the Beatty family.
“When I saw Betty at the event, I felt compelled to share with her how the example of her marriage has been a driving force behind my career,” says Levine. “I remember how Guy would describe buying a company in California by lunchtime, and making it home to Virginia by nighttime to have dinner with his family.”
Levine, who resides in Charlotte, NC with his wife Madison, was inspired by the Beattys’ dynamic partnership and positive work-life balance. “I’m lucky to have found a wife who is not only supportive, but smart enough to run any of my companies in the same way Betty partnered with Guy to build their own dynasty,” says Levine.
Now, Levine hopes to be a beacon of inspiration for current students as the Beattys were for him. He recently connected with David Wyman, assistant professor and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, to discuss a collaboration with the School of Business’ Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Technology (ICAT), a program designed to foster students’ entrepreneurial technology ideas.
“There’s no rulebook to being successful,” says Levine, “but having the right advisers allowed me early access to an exciting career in technology startups, and if I’m able to offer the same opportunity to the students at my alma mater, I’m all in — no questions asked.”
Graduating in the midst of a global financial crisis provided Levine with a unique obstacle to overcome early on. Armed with support and guidance from trusted mentors, and an innate business acumen, he was able to turn a “bear” into a “bull,” and ended up on top.