emlyon: From International MBA To Entrepreneurship: How I Launched My Own Company

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originally published on and written by BusinessBecause

Whether you want to be your own boss, or you have a great idea for a startup, becoming an entrepreneur is a popular career path for business school grads.

Entrepreneurship is a popular post-business school career goal and a sought-after part of the MBA curriculum. In 2023, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Prospective Students Survey found that almost half of business school applicants felt entrepreneurship and innovation was a curricula essential.

For Haobo Jiang, his International MBA from emlyon business school not only fueled his passion for entrepreneurship but also served as the launching pad for his own successful business venture.

We caught up with Haobo to find out how his International MBA helped him get there.

Discovering MBA entrepreneurship

After 13 years working across various sectors including IT engineering, finance, and supply chain management at appliance company Groupe SEB, Haobo decided it was time for a change.

I had a general vision of the business world, but I lacked an understanding of core business elements”, he explains. “I realized it would be a good thing to have an MBA to complete that piece of the puzzle.

With emlyon, located across the street from his place of work, Haobo got the perfect opportunity to find that missing piece of his puzzle.

Despite having no prior plans to launch a startup, as soon as Haobo joined emlyon he quickly became interested in MBA entrepreneurship. The small class sizes gave him the ability to connect with his cohort and access personal support that developed his interest in the area.

Our team took the “entrepreneurship” course quite seriously, and we had a great teacher who inspired a lot of ideas. That was the start of everything.

Gaining experience in MBA entrepreneurship

The emlyon International MBA prioritizes innovative thinking and places a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship.

One of the MBA classes Haobo took, named Fundamentals of New Ventures, is a dynamic and involved course, which works with students to develop their ideas from the conception of a problem to pitching a fully-fledged idea.

A freelance professor, Benjamin-Samuel Ewenczyk, teaches this class and brings his own experience as a successful entrepreneurship. Ben founded 4 Hour Startup, which creates, teaches, and helps implement resources about lean startup methodology and lean prototyping.

He also launched a vintage clothes brand with a past student, so he had many business lessons to impart to budding emlyon MBA entrepreneurs. His class teaches students how to establish small, achievable ideas, then workshop the concepts and, finally, pitch a complete idea.

The class is a small accelerator. The idea is to teach the students about the fundamentals and push them to work on what’s important at that stage”, Ben says.

He adds that the key is for students to discover the most important part of a business idea.

At the end of the day, what you want is to do something that’s useful, and that’s solving a problem for your users.” Throughout Haobo’s time at emlyon, especially on his entrepreneurship course, collaboration with his fellow students helped him develop his entrepreneurial mindset and skills.

At first, we didn’t realize we were making mistakes. And then when we shared the results, not only with the teacher, but also with other groups, you realize that there are better ways of doing things”, he says.

Launching a business after an MBA

At the end of the semester, many of Ben’s students have strong ideas that morph into viable solutions.

Haobo’s initial business idea came about from thinking about ways to teach Chinese in French schools. He went through various versions and mistakes before the idea became a solid foundation for a startup.

“That project evolved and matured a lot. Its origin was a very different version.”

Haobo describes the thorough process he went through to find the right version of his idea.

I submitted the proposal to my colleagues, to explore how things are going in the French education system. Then step by step, we met people who are working in the field, such as educational officials, parents, and students“.

Somehow we got to a conclusion about how we can contribute to make things better”, he explains.

This conclusion formed the basis of his business, Rivière Yuan EdTech. Haobo realized that teachers had too many balls to juggle, including class preparation, dedicated time with students, and reporting to superiors and parents. He proposed an end-to-end process that invested in generative AI, helping students prepare more efficiently, more readily interact with the students during class, and transform preparation into exercises.

Finally, since everything is tracked with the platform we’ve created, we give teachers some really easy to use models for the basic reporting purpose.” Haobo still feels supported by the emlyon International MBA through the network he cultivated there and the support he received.

You get very experienced professionals—not only professors but entrepreneurs themselves—who spend some time with you, who can listen and help you succeed as an MBA entrepreneur, he concludes.

This article was written by Laura Wise on November 27 for Business Because sponsored by emlyon business school

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