Hansoo Lee ’00 passed away on March 4, 2013 at the age of 35 after a 15-month battle with lung cancer.
Lee graduated from Amherst College where he double-majored in economics and fine arts. In 2010, he earned his Masters in Business Administration from the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. According to his fiancé, Wendy Lim, Hansoo became immersed in the technological world upon graduating from Amherst and had known that he wanted to be an entrepreneur prior to enrolling in business school. In the summer between his first and second years at business school, he decided to forgo getting an internship with an established company. Instead, he and a classmate co-founded Magoosh, an online test prep company that prepares students for the GMAT, GRE, TOEFL and SAT.
His vision of a low-cost, high quality, multimedia-driven online experience individually tailored to fit a student’s needs came to fruition and was hailed as innovative, winning a $50,000 first prize from the North Bridge Venture Partners’ first seed capital competition in 2010. That same year, Magoosh took second prize at the Intel+UC Berkeley Technology Entrepreneurship Challenge.
Hansoo, however, was more than just an entrepreneur. His friends at Amherst remembered him as a fun, good-hearted and mischievous guy. “He had the fond nickname of ‘Gremlin’ because of his mischievous nature,” said Peter Mittelholzer '00. “He was a very funny, relaxed, intelligent guy. Always up for a good time, he never took himself too seriously.” Nora Grenager '00 recalls the time she and Hansoo led incoming freshmen on an orientation hiking trip and ran out of water during the trek. “In true Hansoo form, his enthusiasm and good nature kept everyone in good spirits with fun stories and jokes, and the day turned into a quirky story rather than what could have been a miserable incident,” said Nora.
Meanwhile, Hansoo’s finance, Wendy, remembers him as someone who lived his life to the fullest. “We were both so happy to have found our soulmates and the loves of our lives and made memories traveling to places near and far from Yosemite to India and to one of Hansoo's favorite surf spots, Hanalei Bay in Kauai, Hawaii,” said Wendy.
As a tribute to his entrepreneurial spirit, as well as his dedication to education, Wendy and Hansoo’s former colleagues at Magoosh have joined together to create the Hansoo Lee Fellowship. The fellowship is awarded annually to Berkeley-Haas MBA students who wish to pursue their own ventures during the summer between the first and second years of business school, as Hansoo did. “Taking a path of entrepreneurship, you’re actually creating your own job, you’re creating your own path,” said Hansoo in a video posted on the fellowship’s website. “Once you have that in your mind where you’re actually creating a job for yourself and others, then risk can be perceived as less.” Learn more about the Hansoo Lee Fellowship, at hansooleefellowship.org.
He is survived by Wendy, his parents Chung Ho and Hi Whan Lee, his brother and sister-in-law Hanmin Lee and Barbara Morgenthau and their children Mimoh and Taemoh.
Victor Li '00