Michael Michelini conducted his phone interview with NJBIZ in the closest thing he gets to an office:
The back of a taxi cab as it zipped through the loud streets of Hong Kong a few hours before midnight.
That’s not unusual for the Stevens Institute of Technology alumnus. Nor is it unwelcome.
Michelini has lived and worked in China since 2007. And it’s in that business scene he’s found his calling.
“I’ll admit that I’ve gotten addicted to the nonstop pace of it,” the 34-year-old said.
Michelini, who was fresh out of a late dinner with prominent executives in the Chinese real estate market, said the environment he was in prior to moving to China doesn’t compare — and that was the fever pitch of Wall Street institutions.
He held an operations and trade position at Deutsche Bank in New York for five years. He said it was a well-paying gig, and had he completed the MBA he was working toward — at the time — that secure wage would’ve gotten cozier.
But when the entrepreneurial-minded Michelini saw that all anyone wanted out of an MBA was a raise, an epiphany hit him.
“I remember saying before a Kaplan Test Prep that I wanted an MBA to start my own business,” he said.
Long story short, Michelini shocked his parents by quitting his nice job at 27, before completely short-circuiting their expectations by moving to China.
Michelini discovered there was a need for a company to facilitate U.S. purchases from China. That came from his own experiences buying and selling bartending accessories overseas on a website he founded.
Later on, Michelini would fill the need by creating SocialAgent, a mobile app that connected companies with Chinese sales agents to help them build sales leads.