ENTREPRENEURS ARE NO LONGER THE ‘PIRATES’ OR ‘MAVERICKS’
Either way, entrepreneurship has slowly migrated to the mainstream at elite business schools. Gone are the days where graduate business education revolves around finance, marketing, and accounting. At HBS, for example, Ghosh says entrepreneurial training has infiltrated virtually all of the core courses. For instance, Finance now includes a section on venture capital and financing early stage startups.
“I’m seeing this significant shift that when we talk about Facebook, for example, we’re no longer talking about a maverick company,” Ghosh says. “We’re talking about how it fits within governments and society and how we live our lives. That’s a really big shift. It’s no longer just how it affects our immediate lives. It’s how does it in larger society?”
Ghosh says educating entrepreneurs at HBS has shifted from starting companies and taking them to a certain size to focusing on what it means to run large companies making significant changes in society. “The emphasis and focus is shifting to how do you exist in society,” Ghosh maintains.
At MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Bill Aulet, the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship has been calling his band of entrepreneurs “pirates” for years now. Still, Aulet agrees with the other schools, there is a significant shift in how entrepreneurship is being taught at elite business schools. “Five years ago, it was kind of the people who were the renegades and exceptions that were entrepreneurs,” Aulet says. “But now it’s not that renegade to be an entrepreneur. Everyone wants to do it.
“Our center still has this pirate mentality,” Aulet continues. “You don’t have to work at a management consulting firm or an investment bank. Be different.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF CO-FOUNDERS IN B-SCHOOL
And business school remains a solid incubator for launching a successful venture. For Branch, it all began with finding the right teammates — even if they weren’t friends at the beginning. “I actually remember when I met Mike, I was like, oh man, I don’t actually like this guy,” Seghete jokes. But in all seriousness, a diverse team is crucial, both Seghete and Molinet advise.
“I’ve seen it over and over at Stanford where three pretty similar dudes want to do the same thing in the same company and it doesn’t work because they all want to be CEO or they all want to build stuff. With us, we’re actually super different,” Seghete says. “It’s really important when you’re trying to start something at business school to find people who are different than you and compliment you.”
Molinet agrees at the beginning, egos have to be left at the door.
“First, you’re all in it together, so put the egos aside,” Molinet says. “It doesn’t matter what your role is, you’re all in it together. You’re either going to win together or you’re going to lose together.”
But it definitely doesn’t hurt to like your co-founders.
“All of the founders are still together,” Molinet points out after working together for almost seven years. “And we all still like each other.”
THE CASE FOR FINDING CO-FOUNDERS WHILE EARNING AN MBA
But finding the perfect co-founders isn’t always the easiest process, Stanford’s Whitman warns.
“Get to know your classmates, and prepare to work at finding the right co-founder,” Whitman says. “Unless you are fortunate enough to already have the ideal co-founders in your circle, finding co-founders can be really hard work. The University is a wonderful place to meet a wide array of people, which really helps, but many — maybe most — students still find that they end up doing the same networking, multiple-meeting, get-to-know-you, approach to finding co-founders that entrepreneurs outside the university use.”
Aulet maintains that not only are co-founders crucial, but so is the way in which a school prepare future entrepreneurs.
“The odds aren’t stacked against you if you learn how to be a good entrepreneur. The perception of your chances of being a successful entrepreneur are like 5% is just not true,” Aulet says. “And students are starting to realize that and they see it not as a crazy idea to become an entrepreneur, but an accepted career path to go and one they probably prefer from a perception of impact.
“Our goal is not to produce companies, our goal is to education people about the field of innovation-driven entrepreneurship. We don’t equate our success to startups.”
STANFORD HAS RECORD NUMBER OF STARTUPS ON LIST
As for which schools are preparing students and recent grads for venture backed startups best, Stanford and Harvard continue their dominance. Among the six times we’ve published this ranking, only once Stanford and Harvard did not combine for more than half of startups on the list — in 2017 when they combined for 48. The most they combined for was in 2015 when the total among both schools was 71 out of 100.
For the first time ever, however, the GSB significantly topped Harvard, claiming 39 of this year’s 101 spots compared to Harvard’s 21. Of those 39, the combined funding raised is more than $1.3 billion compared to about $729 million raised by the 21 HBS-founded startups on the list. Up next are Columbia Business School and Wharton, which each stake claim to nine startups on this year’s list. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management follows with six startups and Chicago’s Booth School of Business and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School each have five startups on this year’s list.
For those future hopeful MBA-founders, Branch’s Molinet has some sage wisdom.
“When you’re a startup founder, you’re first doing everything yourself,” he says. “If you’re doing an event, you’re going to Safeway and you’re picking everything up — the drinks, and the food, and you’re ordering the pizza. Then as you grow, you become a manager, and then eventually becoming a manager of managers, and eventually you get to the point where you’re only dealing with people problems.
“As founders, what’s important to know is that if you have a startup — especially one that grows and becomes successful — you need to constantly be reinventing yourself. I think the founders that do the best realize that every six months they are reinventing their job, they are reinventing themselves, and they are constantly pushing themselves to change and operate differently.”