Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 2.1
Chicago Booth | Ms. Hotel Real Estate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Navy Vet
GRE 310, GPA 2.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Columbia | Mr. Infra-Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Vigor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Well-Traveled Nonprofit Star
GRE 322, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Sans-Vertebrae
GMAT 730, GPA 3.78
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Columbia | Mr. M&A Analyst
GRE 323, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Ms. Analytical Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Non-Profit Latino
GMAT 710, GPA 3.06
Darden | Mr. Financial World
GMAT 730, GPA 7.8
Cambridge Judge Business School | Ms. Story-Teller To Data-Cruncher
GMAT 700 (anticipated), GPA 3.5 (converted from Australia)
Kellogg | Mr. Operator
GMAT 740, GPA 4.17/4.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Air Force Vet
GRE 311, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Engagement Manager
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Top Performer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. STEM Minor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
Harvard | Mr. Fresh Perspective
GRE 318, GPA 3.0
USC Marshall | Mr. Supply Chain Guru
GMAT GMAT Waiver, GPA 2.6
HEC Paris | Mr. Productivity Focused
GMAT 700, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Energy Transition
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95

Booth’s Crash Course In Sales For Startups

Booth MBA Ricardo Leite has bartered his 25-cent pen for some $200 so far

Booth MBA Ricardo Leite has bartered a 25-cent pen for some $200 so far

During his second week of class, Ricardo Leite, 28, received a Chicago Booth pen worth approximately 25 cents. The first-year MBA and his classmates in Booth’s Entrepreneurial Selling course weren’t particularly impressed with the cheap writing utensil–luckily, their assignment was to get rid of it.

Course professor Craig Wortmann tasked his students with trading their pens over the next eight weeks for objects of increasing value. He issued one rule: students could only barter with people they didn’t know. Two weeks and two trades later, Leite is already up to roughly $200, and he’s still got eight weeks to go.

Entrepreneurial Selling is an exception in a B-school curriculum packed with courses that emphasize either sales at large organizations or entrepreneurship. Few tackle entrepreneurial sales, a subject Wortmann contends is fundamentally different from sales at a large enterprise, where representatives have product development teams, human resources personnel, and marketing specialists supporting them. At a startup, most, if not all, of these responsibilities fall on the entrepreneur.

One student bartered for a coin from the Ottoman Empire

A past student bartered their way to a coin from the Ottoman Empire

Leite understands the demands on founders firsthand. The Brazilian founded printing service Zocprint in 2012 before coming to Booth in July of 2013. “At the beginning, you are the founder, the CEO, and the VP of sales; you are everything, so you need to understand the main processes and techniques behind good sales,” he says. His own experience prompted him to sign up for the Booth class, which was recognized in 2011 as one of the top 10 courses in the country by Inc. Magazine. “Professor Wortmann makes a point of making us uncomfortable. On the first day of class he says, ‘Look, this is a sales course, you’re going to be uncomfortable, you’re going to have a lot of rejection, you’re going to do cold calls, and you’re going have meetings to sell products–it’s not easy,'” Leite says.

One MBA successfully traded up to a strand of pearls

One MBA successfully traded up to a strand of pearls

The Entrepreneurial Selling class’ overarching goal is to make students “as smart and sufficient in selling as possible, so that when you spend time selling, not a moment is wasted,” according to the syllabus. This is accomplished through a series of assignments that range from cold calling people (and convincing at least 10 of them to fill out a survey) to creating a sales toolkit and presentation around a new product or service.

One student ended up with a Spanish language set

Another student ended up with a Spanish language set

Leite didn’t waste any time with the bartering assignment. He went straight to Booth professor Lars Peter Hansen, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2013. In exchange for the pen, Hansen gave Leite an autographed copy of his breakthrough article, “Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators”–Hansen even penned in a private anecdote. Leite posted the paper to an eBay auction where, as of Jan. 21, the highest bid is $202.50. He also drove traffic to the site by reaching out to prominent Harvard economist and blogger Greg Mankiew, who mentioned the auction in a post, and to Poets&Quants, for that matter.

The auction ends on Jan 23, 2014, at 9:58 a.m. EST. But Leite is hopeful that this is just the beginning. For his next move, he’s considering donating half of the proceeds to charity. Regardless of the final trade, he’s already picked up several key lessons: have fun, make people aware of the product, and select something the market actually wants. Despite these insights, he’s not planning to jump back into the startup world immediately after graduation. “I really think that entrepreneurship is not a field or a career choice … You can be an entrepreneur at a large corporation. You can be an entrepreneur in any context, so it’s more about the mindset and the way of doing things than to found my own company again. Maybe this will happen, but it’s not my plan for the near term,” he says.

DON’T MISS: The Top 20 B-Schools for Entrepreneurship or Chicago Booth Expands Entrepreneurship Opportunities