Kellogg Wants To Be A Top Three Business School For Startups

Kellogg MBAs like Kasey Lundquist ('14) are taking advantage of the B-school's growing entrepreneurship offerings

Kellogg MBAs like Kasey Lundquist (’14) are taking advantage of the B-school’s growing entrepreneurship offerings

“Let’s see your shoe…just put it up here on the table.”

Reluctantly, I shed a nondescript black flat with a gold buckle and plop it on the table.

“This is great,” observes Carter Cast, a management professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Cast whips out his smartphone and starts snapping away, taking photos of my shoe from different angles.

He’d asked my opinion about a startup idea for comfortable, stylish flats for women pitched by two MBA students in his New Venture Discovery course. I’d explained that I didn’t see a huge market need. There were plenty of options available: My current footwear were comfortable, affordable, and–I liked to think, anyway–stylish. He relayed the pictures back to his students, who emailed me later for my “perspective on comfortable, stylish shoes to inform our shoe design.” I was flattered–and surprised.

A few years ago, this conversation wouldn’t have occurred. For starters, Cast, the former CEO of, didn’t teach at Kellogg. For another, his class didn’t exist. In fact, entrepreneurship, as a structured path at Kellogg didn’t really exist. If you possessed any entrepreneurial DNA, you probably decided among Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, Rice, or Babson.

The episode is emblematic of a major shift going on in Evanston, Illinois. Kellogg, long considered a world-class destination for students keen on marketing and consulting, is finally catching the wave of get-out-of-the-classroom entrepreneurship education.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the school’s seismic shift toward entrepreneurship took off, but one thing is certain: Kellogg is working in overdrive to recover lost ground. The B-school has silently plugged away for the past two years, scrapping old courses, creating a dozen new ones, hiring 19 adjunct faculty with real-world entrepreneurial experience, renting space in a downtown Chicago tech hub, and establishing ties with schools across the university. They’ve even released a slick video with cameos from new faculty and successful alumni. Now, those changes are bearing their first fruits.

So why the push for entrepreneurship now? School officials say students, alumni, and even faculty called for change. But that’s only half the story: no major business school can afford to ignore entrepreneurship. From corporate innovation departments to technology startups, the market is demanding more entrepreneurial MBA, and big-name B-school are jumping in the game. Last month alone, Yale’s School of Management launched a formal entrepreneurship program, while Columbia Business School hosted its inaugural entrepreneurship conference. Kellogg undoubtedly understands that it’s easier to act now than to play catch-up later. 

Kellogg’s recently released entrepreneurship video 

  • fidel305

    the fact that you refer to the sine qua non of the equation as the techie guy shows that you know nothing about how it works.
    the real problem Kellogg has in this area is that NU’s engineering school is rather modest compared to Stanford and MIT, and HBS students are crawling all over MIT as well.
    but then again, U of C has no engineering school, and booth is the real target of Kellogg’s new initiatives

  • fidel305

    HBS is the outlier to me in that they instead throw money at students without a set idea
    that’s the beauty of HBS

  • fidel305

    that’s not the goal. although Hass

  • fidel305

    disclose your affiliation so we know where you’re coming from

  • LaurenEveritt

    Thanks for catching that, EG.

  • EG

    Colombia Business School >>>> spelling error in articled

  • adam markus

    The demand for entrepreneurial thinking and practical opportunities to try out entrepreneurship is real amongst MBA applicants and students worldwide. I think Kellogg is going in the right direction by responding to this demand. Whether it can ever be Top Three in Entrepreneurship is an open question, but such objectives are just what is required when a school throws significant resources into building a new subject area. I will surely be passing this great article along to my MBA applicant clients considering Kellogg and/or those with an entrepreneurial focus.

  • 2cents

    I think one of the levers of success stems out of the other graduate schools and undergraduate population. The undergrads made the valley and GSB, MIT doesn’t need much explanation, Haas has a ton of publicly funded research at NREL, HBS is the outlier to me in that they instead throw money at students without a set idea and win by playing the odds with smart people. If anything I don’t know if Haas belongs in that mix (would throw them in with the NY schools and Booth for startups)

  • Myron

    Kellogg is not a Entrepreneurship B-School. Main infrastructure is missing: most students go into consulting as career as reported recently in PQ, the intake are not focused on Entrepreneurship , little incubator activities and support compared to competitors, fewer choices in curriculum. Kellogg lacks credibility and sounds like a marketing blurb.

  • kelloggsawesome

    too lofty (or unreasonable) of a goal. not going to oust HBS, Sloan, Stanford, Haas in the top ten.

  • 2cents

    Congrats by the way Jason – just digging around a little bit on Innoblative Design and saw you are a good bit higher than $100K in fundraising without giving up any equity. Best of luck to you guys, the healthcare startup space is a fascinating area to be working in these days. I’d be curious (largely because I’ve heard this has held back MIT a bit) – Is the IP owned by NU? If so, how have you found that relationship? If not, then just kudos to you guys and I hope to see Innoblative a few years from now as the next billion dollar IPO.

  • Jason Sandler

    Sure, I can clarify a few points. NUvention courses are open to both graduate and
    undergraduate students from any NU school including the business school. Although the article states that the company of which I am a co-founder, Innoblative, is an NUvention company, we actually did not come out of that program. However, we did complete and greatly benefit from the school’s Innovation Lab curriculum.

  • 2cents

    Entrepreneurship seems to be the flavor of the last two years (also you misspelled Columbia). There is a healthy amount of VC in the Chicago area but it seems Kellogg is going to have a hard time playing catch up in a market many think is starting to resemble 1998 (hey, they had Kayak!), not to mention they seem to be playing catchup to Booth and even Michigan and UT-Austin in the midwest game now (though please do correct me, my understanding is the NUVention winners come from the non-bschool components). 1& 2 in the startup space unless Kellogg is going to start growing money like HBS will continue to be HBS and GSB as long as the Valley stays on the plus side of growth, with MIT and then a host of other programs playing catchup. At least the New York schools have a more stable funding source and are in a major metropolis (Cornell’s labs in the Google building in ny are actually pretty fantastic). Don’t get me wrong Kellogg is a fantastic program and they place a ton of MBAs into tech and startups, but it’s going to be a tough climb for it to become a “startup” school.