THE ENTREPRENEUR DRIVES THE PROCESS AT BABSON
Over the past three years, an average of about 15% of graduating MBAs at Babson have elected to launch a business within three months of graduation. That’s more than all schools ranked this year with the exception of Washington University, Michigan’s Ross School, and Stanford’s GSB. Babson also boasts that 26% of its core MBA courses features at least 50% of their content dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation — more than all but one other school, Boston University. Some 45% of its student-run clubs are dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation and about a fifth of its full-time faculty teach at least one entrepreneurship-focused course.
Spinelli says entrepreneurship is no longer a fringe competency within business schools, but that it should be taught just like finance, marketing, or operations.
“We’ve always believed the entrepreneur drove the process,” Spinelli maintains. “But now, with the technological changes and this generation, it is no longer a competitive advantage — it’s a required competency. And we hit them over the head with that.”
ESADE LEADING EUROPE’S STARTUP CULTURE
Across the Atlantic, Barcelona-based ESADE Business School was the top-ranked school outside of the U.S. for the second year in a row. Like Babson, ESADE is steeped in entrepreneurial tradition. The ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute, which is the cornerstone of ESADE’s entrepreneurial community was founded in 1992. But Jan Brinckmann, an entrepreneurship professor and director of the ESADE master’s of science in innovation and entrepreneurship program, points out that the school’s founding was based around infusing entrepreneurship into the community. And then in the 2000s, when the school became more international, entrepreneurship surged again.
“It has become one of the dominant activities on campus,” Brinckmann explains. “And it makes more people want to get involved.”
At ESADE, about 7% of MBAs launched businesses immediately after graduation between 2017 and 2019. Some 15% of the school’s core MBA courses have a focus on entrepreneurship including a required course entirely focused on startups. “I think this is a differentiating example,” says Lisa Hehenberger, the director of the Esade Entrepreneurship Institute. “We’re providing coursework and classes, but also exposure in a lot of different ways.”
Overall, one of every four elective courses is focused entirely on entrepreneurship and innovation. Some 60% of ESADE’s MBAs were members of the school’s entrepreneurship club last academic year. And with a whopping 90 entrepreneurs in residence to a total MBA population of 186, there was basically an entrepreneur is residence for every two MBAs last year.
Hehenberger says social entrepreneurship, in particular, is highly popular among current MBAs. “There’s quite an interest in this subject among students,” she says, noting about 50 of the 186 total MBAs took the social entrepreneurship elective last year. “It’s an opportunity to combine an impact on society with business models,” Hehenberger adds. “If you’re in a business school, this is very appealing. I’m finding that business students are really fascinated by this and are looking for jobs to combine their passions with business. In the past, they might have volunteered o the side while working. Now they’re combining the two.”
LAUNCHING A STARTUP IN THE HEART OF SILICON VALLEY
It’s the robust portfolio of resources that make launching a business during an MBA experience so appealing for many students. Soon after Pando Pooling’s Charlie Olson and Eric Lax began meeting for weekly coffee dates, they applied and were accepted to Stanford GSB’s Lean Launchpad course. There, they were able to test out an idea that they since moved on from — but while that idea failed, the duo didn’t.
“We dropped the other idea and started with what is now Pando,” Olson says.
Olson says Stanford does a few things to make entrepreneurship “and risk-taking more generally” easier to undertake with confidence. Through non-grade disclosure, the school “structurally liberates” MBAs to experiment and explore, he says, while the school’s faculty, staff, fellow students, and extra-curricular opportunities provide fertile ground for ideas and connections: About 34% of Stanford’s elective courses available to MBAs are focused solely on entrepreneurship or innovation, and some 16% of student-run MBA clubs were also focused on innovation or entrepreneurship. About 40% of full-time MBAs were members of the school’s main entrepreneurship club. One result of that commitment: 16% of Stanford grads launch startups immediately after graduation, compared to 7% at Harvard Business School.
“There’s a startup culture at Stanford,” Olson says. “If you look at a map, you’re right off Sand Hill Road. There is a lot of capital that is there to nudge people in the direction of starting things. And it’s amazing how quickly that capital can show up.”