Are MBAs a bad fit for start-ups?

Authors: by Chirag Jain
Source: Emerging Markets Development Club

WSJ recently posted an article by Vivek Wadhwa, a professor at Duke University, title Why I don't advise startups to higher M.B.A's. The thrust of the article was that the skills and frameworks that these programs encourage are a bad fit for the current climate of rapid evolution in the start-up space. While the logic seems reasonable and the arguments occasionally ring true, this begs a far larger question.

Why do I see so many existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in my MBA classes?

Have these students been deceived? Are they sinking massive sums of money based on false promises? Our culture is replete with a pantheon of entrepreneurial rock stars who have ascended corporate america without a masters on their resume. One can argue that reality is the best teacher, and the best and cheapest education we can find is the failures and successes of trial and error. From Malcolm Gladwell to Socrates, we have seen the value of practice and real-world experimentation in driving true learning. So why enter the ivory towers of a 2-year degree churning institution? If you want to start an enterprise (socially driven or not) just do it! How many avid entrepreneurs have entered an MBA program, only to be lured by the fat compensation offered by larger corporations?

While hardly a comprehensive response I'll offer one thought that might content the above sentiment.

  "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself"
- Elenor Roosevelt

The best things you'll learn during your MBA will come from the hard won experience of your peers and faculty. More than a deep curriculum, it is the deeper insights of a collaborative institution that will make you a more complete leader, and in some ways a more complete person.

I'm not saying that an MBA is the best option, and perhaps here is where all you current entrepreneurs  BVIP and Incubator entrants and EVCC members can chime in. I'll ask you to read a post by our Dean Bruner that includes his own thoughts on this topic. 

If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different?

What helped? What hurt?

What can we do better?

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