Tyler Leeper (MBA ’08) was just a teenager when he began a summer job at a place that rented boats on a Madison lake. It was a job he loved because he was outdoors and near the water, he had no idea it would be the first step in building his business and his career.
Tyler is the owner of Madison Boats, which operates watercraft rental sites on three Madison lakes. He bought the business at age 22, and has expanded it to include special events and day camps for kids. He didn’t have a business background and soon pursued and earned an MBA to help him build what was one location, eight staff and 30 boats to three locations, 83 staff members and more than 500 boats and paddle boards.
The support and resources at WSB were game changers that gave Tyler the confidence that he could lead his company. Now thinking like an entrepreneur, he recognized how best to move forward and spot opportunities. It wasn’t about fancy boats and equipment, it was about the experience of being on the water—the very thing that drew him into the business in the first place.
“We’re in the quality of life industry, we’re not in the outdoor sports industry,” he says. “It’s important to understand what you’re actually selling. And it’s not always what you think it is.”