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Exploring Entrepreneurship Opportunities for MBAs

While ten years ago MBA programs were mostly focused on helping applicants achieve their dream career in corporate America, that’s no longer the case. Many MBA graduates are starting to become less interested in traditional jobs and more interested in starting their own companies. In fact, a recent study of over 30,000 Wharton MBA graduates showed that more than seven percent of 2013 grads started their own companies, five times as many as in 2007. And Stanford reported a record 16 percent of its MBA graduates launching startups in 2012. This clear shift in graduate desires has also caused a change in the focus of many business schools.

Take a look at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Just recently the University started a seven-week MBA course co-taught by the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative and 1776—a global startup incubator and seed fund. The course called, “Starting a Startup that Matters” is focused on looking at how entrepreneurship can solve the world’s most significant challenges, especially in education, healthcare, energy and sustainability, and transportation, according to the website.

Throughout the seven weeks, students are challenged to understand and assess key industries and the role that startups can play. Guest lecturers, interviews, practical advice, and personal stories are all just a day in the life of students attending this course—the end goal being to engage and enrich the DC startup community while bringing entrepreneurs and industry specialists to a classroom setting. The course is more than just a “how-to-start-a-business” class; it’s a place where research and practice are combined to help develop students into entrepreneurs.

Even more attractive, Georgetown offers videos from the classes for free online on their YouTube channel. So, no matter if you’re an MBA student who couldn’t make the course, or you’re a student at another university, you can benefit from the information and experience presented in “Starting a Startup that Matters.”

“Along with our partners at 1776, we believe that many people have a burning desire to make a difference in the world, and we want them to understand that entrepreneurship is a powerful way to do that,” said Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative. “We believe entrepreneurs—and people working at startups—are driving tremendously valuable change in our society. The course material is designed to help people from all walks of life understand the ways that startups are making a difference in the world, and to gain valuable tips on how to make your startup more successful and impactful.”

“While there are many courses, books, and materials that teach the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, this class focuses on both basic entrepreneurial principles and the challenges and unique strategies for starting a startup that really matters to our world,” said Donna Harris (a co-founder of 1776) in an interview.

In the same interview, MBA student (’16) Michael Kelly said, “I am especially interested in early stage investing, identifying strong founding teams is essential to making smart investments. Through this course, I hope to refine my understanding of how great entrepreneurs think and act, and also learn from effective strategies they’ve used to find success.”

Throughout the McDonough MBA program website, you’ll find multiple references to their entrepreneurial focus. Dozens of MBA graduates each year venture into entrepreneurship.

“Georgetown McDonough MBA students have many opportunities to prepare for life after graduation,” Jeff said. “They learn important lessons from experienced entrepreneurs—in classes taught by adjunct faculty and in mentoring sessions led by entrepreneurs in residence. We offer deep learning experiences out of the classroom through activities like the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), multiple pitch competitions, our Summer Launch Program, our partnership with 1776, InSITE DC, and various startup internships.”

And the McDonough School of Business isn’t the only school in the DC area that is focused on providing for entrepreneurs. At George Washington University’s School of Business, they don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all MBA program. That’s why they offer various concentrations, including one in entrepreneurship. This concentration examines the motivations, reasons, and methods involved in becoming an entrepreneur—focusing on the mindset and how new successful business ideas are formed and put into practice.

For Jeff, it just makes sense for entrepreneurs to get their MBA—there are innumerable benefits. “Entrepreneurs in the Georgetown McDonough MBA program will leave with an amazing network, a deep sense of how entrepreneurship fits into their life and into the world around them, and a deep set of valuable, practical skills they can apply in any setting,” he said. “Whether they launch their own startup, join a startup team, or lead innovation within a larger company, our entrepreneurial alumni are prepared to drive change that will benefit their customers and shareholders as well as the greater society around them.”

If you’ve always planned to become an entrepreneur, there’s never been a better time to get an MBA. There are more unique opportunities and learning experiences available than ever before.If you’re not sure where to start, watch of few of McDonough’s “Starting a Startup that Matters” videos online.

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About the Author


Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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