Will Ober  asked 3 years ago

I am currently a mechanical engineer, but am applying to business schools to get my MBA because I hope to pursue my own business ventures. From the class profiles, there are very few people with engineering educations and professional experience that actually pursue an MBA. I'm wondering if an MBA is the right choice for me, giving my goals to pursue my own business venture in a technology-based industry, or if there are better options.

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Benedicta Banga Founder @ Gradstrategy

Hi Will,

I'm late to the party but I just wanted to add a little to your question. 

Accelerators are great and they will get you around like minded entrepreneurs and that's great- we are the sum total of our companions. But, if you're really after results I would recommend finding a mentor or an accelerator with a mentor in your area of interest. 

A great mentor will open their "Rolodex" and help you achieve more in a much shorter space of time and save you from unnecessary failure by showing you the ropes and limit unproductive time hidden in the distraction of researching things you don't know in order to take a first step.  

If you do take an MBA please find a few examples of that achieved what you want and have a quality conversation. Bear in mind universities will always sell you a program.

One other thing Founders don't always make the best CEOs. So if you get an MBA thinking you will have to manage certain aspects of your business, you might find yourself loathing the business side and enjoying the more practical elements- it's pretty normal. 

 Written 3 years ago
Anu Srivastava

Hi Will,


Someone with your technical skills and interest in entrepreneurship has two options. One of them is already highlighted by John, i.e., boot camps and accelerators, so I will not go into details for that.


Your second option is an MBA. I would suggest you look at Schools which have strong Engineering schools in addition to B-Schools - MIT/ Sloan, Berkeley/Haas come to mind for example. At such a school the pros would be:


1.     Ability to partner with the engineers and lead/ co-create an idea together

2.     Participate in hackathon/ pitch competitions and connect to early funding

3.     Learn from your peer entrepreneurs and professions

4.     Get access to the vast network of alumni and successful leaders through the school to guide you


I do not want to oversell an MBA, and beyond the cost, you will also have to consider the competition from other hopeful founders - something that is common for both option 1&2.


Good luck!

 Written 3 years ago
Jason Futers Founder @ huupe

It's an interesting question, and one many people find themselves challenged with. Approximately 8 years ago I was on the verge of going to business school; I was ready to resign and had applied to my school of choice in London. My logic included wanting to explore something different (a common theme for MBA candidates I imagine), thinking it would be nice to 'take a break', wanting to take a more structured approach to either changing job or exploring entrepreneurial opportunities, and wanted the knowledge that goes with an MBA. I was also intellectually curious to see what this MBA thing was all about.

As I explored my reasons in more detail and went deeper into researching the actual MBA coursework, it become obvious to me that the core reason for doing this was to try something entrepreneurial (you're already ahead of where I was on this!) and that the MBA was almost certainly not the answer. Having now taken the start-up route I can say with great certainty that the elements of starting your own business that are really different to a 'proper job' are not something you can learn at b-school.

If you have the entrepreneurial itch it's unlikely to go away, so better just to scratch it. Work out where you don't have the right knowledge or experience and get reading. One example for me was a lack of knowledge of corporate entity structures, so I googled what I needed to know and spoke to an accountant. Create a list of the things you think you're missing and systematically go through them one at a time. Ask friends and colleagues to give you advice on the missing pieces...people are incredible generous with their time. If your ultimately goal is to be an entrepreneur I believe preparing in this way will be a far cheaper, quicker and ultimately more rewarding experience than an MBA. Good luck!

 Written 3 years ago
john lynn Co-Founder @ The Studio Project + The NYC Innovation Collective

An MBA will not prepare you in any way to create new ventures -- an MBA, despite more frequent and recent demonstrations to the contrary, is not designed to prepare entrepreneurs.  They will continue not to, despite more programming targeted toward entrepreneurial-minded students.

To get an education that moves you toward entrepreneurship, consider bootcamps and accelerators like Startup Institute and Founders Institute, both of which have part-time programs that are designed to assist highly talented, select individuals make their way into the tech industry.

Keep the questions coming, this is one one of the most important topics I speak on.

 Written 3 years ago

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