Construction management alumnus turned entrepreneur David Yolo ’07 never imagined his MSOE degree might one day land him on television. “It is surreal to be able to do this as a job.”
In November, David and his wife Jenni Yolo, I Spy DIY LLC designer, launched a new do-it-yourself home design show on the Magnolia Network, a cable network owned by popular TV home renovators Chip and Joanna Gaines.
The show, “Makeover by Monday,” features the couple and their team leading a three-day DIY room makeover for clients’ homes throughout the Milwaukee area. Jenni takes the lead by developing the design concepts, directing renovations, and adding décor from local small businesses. David and his crew then put their hammers to work and take on the construction elements to make her designs a reality.
“My construction crew consists of my dad and two friends from college. After shooting the before and after of each space, we only have two and a half days to construct it. It’s impressive to see what we can accomplish,” said Yolo.
Along with the difficulties of a tight construction schedule, David had the added challenge of getting comfortable being in front of the camera. It was, however, a challenge he was willing to undertake. “One of my goals for the pilot was to not get replaced by a fake TV husband,” joked Yolo.
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur and DIYer, Yolo hadn’t had much hands-on experience with construction. Luckily, his years in industry gave him the inside look he needed. “I have watched a lot of construction get built throughout my career. It’s been fun to take what I have seen and learn how to do it myself.”
After graduation, the Hartland, Wisconsin native was recruited by one of his former MSOE men’s hockey teammates to work in Las Vegas. He spent the next 12 years working in the commercial construction industry as a project manager.
“I worked on Caesars Forum shops, Premium Outlets and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts,” said Yolo.
After missing home and family, David returned to Wisconsin in 2015. He ended up meeting his future wife that summer. After getting married, he worked in industry for a few more years before leaving to work as a full-time entrepreneur with Jenni at I Spy DIY.
“We renovate houses, essentially room by room, documenting the process for social media. We have been doing short-term and mid-term rentals with the properties once they are complete.”
With a career path that transitioned from industry to entrepreneurship, he credits MSOE for helping him achieve his goals.
“MSOE does a great job preparing its students for their careers. Its reputation is a way to get a foot in the door,” said Yolo.
For current MSOE students approaching graduation, Yolo recommends to “know yourself and your skill set. Learn from the years of experience around you and study what works and what doesn’t.”
As for his future dream renovation project?
“Our current conversations oscillate between farmhouse in the country and a commercial space in the city, but we’d like to someday do both,” said Yolo.
Episodes of “Makeover by Monday” air on Saturdays through the second week of January and are available for same-day streaming on discovery+. You can also follow the couple’s real-time home projects through their Instagram account or on their website I Spy DIY.