Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Harvard | Mr. 1st Gen Brazilian LGBT
GMAT 720, GPA 3.2
USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
NYU Stern | Mr. Hail Mary 740
GMAT 740, GPA 2.94
Harvard | Mr. London Artist
GMAT 730, GPA First Class Honours (4.0 equivalent)
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Pharma Manager
GMAT 650, GPA 3,2
Kellogg | Mr. Young PM
GMAT 710, GPA 9.64/10
Wharton | Mr. Indian VC
GRE 333, GPA 3.61
MIT Sloan | Mr. Tech Enthusiast
GRE 325, GPA 6.61/10

The Most Successful Harvard MBAs


Entrepreneurs Reflect on the Value of an MBA


“You need to learn the rules before you break them.”

“How can you fund a venture if you’re $200K in debt.”

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”

“The best teacher is experience.”

If you’ve weighed enrolling in business school against starting a company, those arguments probably sound pretty familiar. On one hand, an MBA curriculum provides a blueprint for managing an entire operation. In fact, some quip that an MBA teaches you everything you need…once your company reaches maturity, that is.

Yes, the launch and growth phases are never easy. And entrepreneurs, an ambitious and impatient lot, struggle with sitting in class when they could be writing code and wooing investors. They believe in now or never, understanding that the messy process of ‘getting there first’ is often as important as the b-school mantra of ‘getting it right.’

In entrepreneurial circles, an ‘MBA’ is often used as a punch line. Question is, does it have value for entrepreneurs – and how? In a two part series in the Chicago Tribune, entrepreneurs reflected on their experiences on the pros and cons of an MBA. Here are some of their thoughts:

“By and large, having professors in MBA programs ‘teach’ entrepreneurship is like having a priest teach sex education. You need people who have done it, not watched it. The ‘analysis paralysis’ that is part and parcel of the MBA education process is an absolute detriment to successfully building a new business.”

–  Howard Tullman, CEO, 1871:

“An MBA is helpful if you’re going into a field that absolutely requires it or you’re attending a top-five school. Otherwise, you need to find new, creative, refreshing ways to differentiate yourself and learn the adaptability necessary to thrive in today’s ever-changing marketplace. Paying to be handheld through an 18-month program just doesn’t cut it any longer.”

– Victor Saad, founder, Experience Institute

“Past failure can be as much a predictor of future success in a startup as anything … risk tolerance, team experience with chaos and uncertainty, the ability to pivot from plan. ‘This is the way things are done’ is antithetical to entrepreneurs. Pursuing an MBA doesn’t diminish our interest in you as an entrepreneur, but I don’t think it enhances our expectations much, either. It used to be that MBA schools were a great place to meet and network with people you were likely to spend a career doing business with, but today’s hyper-connected world really negates that advantage. The best entrepreneurial schools in Chicago are the ones aggressively pushing alignment and interaction outside the classroom and beyond the textbook.”

– Terry Howerton, founder and CEO, TechNexus

“The MBA is not necessarily needed, but it is certainly helpful. Since founding the company, my business partner and I have both begun MBA programs and directly applied knowledge from classes to our business. Specifically we have applied skills learned in accounting and finance to our business model, and we have new perspectives on approaching new customers. Additionally, getting to know the people in our programs has opened the door to many new industries and therefore a larger customer market.”

– Pat Aylward, co-founder, Onward Coworking:

“MBAs are especially helpful for individuals who are reassessing their career direction and need a birds-eye view of the options. Bankers decided they don’t want to crunch numbers, advertising folks feel they need more rigor, or consultants want to get their hands more dirty with front-line management experience. They are also helpful in broadening the scope of professional relationships that can help during future endeavors. On the other hand, if an applicant knows with great conviction that they want to be a trader on a risk (arbitrage) desk, or develop SaaS products, they are better off skipping the MBA in favor of finding a position in those fields directly.”

“An MBA is often part of the recipe but doesn’t have to be. More important is having a team of folks aligned against a simple mission, but with different skill sets that complement one another. An MBA can provide the “long view” and reference points for many of the challenges that arise, but capabilities can similarly be attained through a good old-fashioned array of mentors that set high expectations early in peoples’ career.”

– Jay Hoffmann, co-founder and CEO,

“It’s helpful only if it is required for what you are trying to do. Otherwise, experience is king in this Internet-obsessed world. Internships (even the unpaid ones) provide a toolbox of experiences that simply a framed (post-bachelor’s) certificate, or MBA, just can’t quite match. Think if it this way: While some sit in class getting their MBA, the true entrepreneurs of society are MIA and off building their own empires. Case-in-point: Chicago’s own Experience Institute, a higher-education platform based on real-world experiences.”

– Ashley Aspiranti, lead curator, NextSpace Coworking

“No idea. I think it’s a waste of time and money, frankly. Super valuable for networking and securing a good job at a big company that requires certain degrees or credentials for advancement — but that’s not the startup world. MBAs are as often frowned upon as they are admired in tech, so the benefit is not the paper you get at the end, but how it develops you as a person … because in startups, resumes are about as meaningful as ideas — they count for (nothing) compared to execution.”

– Logan LaHive, founder and CEO, Belly

“(Perseverance) can’t be taught, but the MBA can help with (learning agility and network, especially network). So if someone is considering entrepreneurship and debating whether or not to get an MBA, they need to analyze what the MBA experience will provide them with. A network is essential when creating a company out of nothing. Additionally, graduate school is one of the best times to meet your co-founders and incubate your business. But that must be weighed against debt burden, as entrepreneurship is difficult if you walk out of a top business school with $250,000 of debt.”

– Samir Mayekar, co-founder and CEO, SiNode Systems


To read feedback from other entrepreneurs, click on the links below.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Tribune