SMU Alum Matt Alexander on the Liberal Arts


Dean Thomas DiPiero once advised, “Don’t dash your expectations, expand them.” SMU alumnus, Matt Alexander ’10 has done just that. Entrepreneur and founder of the online “curated shopping” company, Need, Alexander spoke to a crowd of alumni, students, faculty and staff at the first of the 2015-16 Dedman College Alumni Collection Series lectures on Thursday, October 15.

Alexander earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History from SMU and entered the workforce at Southwest Airlines in communications. Quickly his studies in computer science and appreciation of technology led him to branch out and create the business consultancy firm, Construct. His time at Construct included working with nationally recognized companies such as American Express and Ernst & Young.

He also developed OneThirtySeven, a blog which eventually led him to found Need and The Edition Collective, described by Alexander’s blog as “a project dedicated to the development of sustainable, dignified, and unique e-commerce concepts.” Need launched in 2013 and has been sold out every month since. Not one to sit back and stop inventing new opportunities, he continues to expand his offerings, recently starting Foremost, described on its website as a “purveyor of small-batch, American-made clothing for men and women” at foremostediditon.com. In the January/February 2015 edition of D CEO, Alexander was named one of “Five of the region’s hottest young technology entrepreneurs.”

DiPiero and Alexander discussed business planning, ethics, and expectations for just under an hour in the Lyle School of Engineering Vester Hughes Auditorium, focusing on Alexander's experiences while at SMU and how they led to unexpected places. Alexander pointed out, “My studies in the liberal arts have contributed in an obvious and deeply important way for my career. I feel unfazed by change, I feel agile when handling problems, and I can frequently look to the skills I honed at SMU to help me find my way through virtually any situation.”

After the event, Alexander went on to say, “Today, for instance, I've been knee-deep in coding a new version of Need, whilst, at the same time, writing and distributing the marketing copy for a new Foremost collection. If I hadn't pursued my particular path at SMU, I doubt I could make the jump between those two projects so seamlessly.”

Following the interview, DiPiero opened the discussion for questions from the audience. “If you’re developing a company, trust your intuition,” and “I’ve made a habit of saying no far more than saying yes,” are among the tips Alexander shared. He went on to stress, “Failure is not an end. It is a beginning.”

On Thursday, October 29, The Dedman College Alumni Connection Series hosted Texas State Representative Rafael Anchia ’90. For more details about that discussion, as well as upcoming events, please visit smu.edu/dedman