making strides to provide students with entrepreneurial training, but the Harvard Business School (HBS) has so far not come up in our discussions. This might seem odd that one of the top business schools in the nation doesn't gather much attention from things like The Princeton Review's ranking of entrepreneurial programs, but one HBS grad may have an answer to that puzzle.We've talked now and then about college programs that are
Stu Wall, co-founder of the startup Postabon with an MBA from Harvard, recently wrote about some of the reasons that he thinks cause MBAs to make mistakes when trying to form a startup. The biggest obstacle in their way is that through their years of education, MBA students are taught to meticulously plan their businesses, but nothing can substitute from actually getting your hands dirty.
"With three months and ~$10K, we created a bare-minimum website and iPhone app that allowed us to iterate daily based on consumer feedback. No amount of time in Baker Library would have substituted," writes Wall. "Building a product will allow you to identify a viable strategy, iterate, and prove your team can win. Research, formatting and nicely worded emails are a prerequisite but by no means a differentiator."
Does this mean that no startup ever got funded without a working demo or beta phase product? Probably not, but the point here is that the amount of discovery and business education you give yourself by actually building a product and testing it trumps anything you can learn from a lecture or a book.
I would assume that at some point during his Harvard MBA education Wall had some sort of "lab" experience in which he was tasked with actually creating a business, but I can't be sure. If he did, it may not be likely that the experiments they ran were in the realm of startups, but they could have been. The point is, Wall seemed to learn a lot more about forming a startup simply by doing than he thinks he did from school.
Another pitfall he sees with MBA students is that the culture implanted into the minds of most business school students doesn't jive well with startup culture. By this he means that MBAs spend tens of thousands of dollars on an education as an investment toward a future with a high paying career, but that startup culture is a different kind of road to success than they may have expected.
"By the time we're thinking about career decisions, many have a 'what will you do for me' attitude," writes Wall. "Entrepreneurship is the truest form of meritocracy where 'credentialing' counts for nothing. Be humble and cognizant of your weaknesses, and put your passion for idea show (as opposed to your $$ aspirations)."