Beware of MBAs! The business school curriculum teaches how to suck at startups

I have an MBA from Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business.  It was some of the best experiences of my life.  I met fabulous friends, learned from incredible professors, and developed in many important my ways.  My entrepreneurship professor, Gregg Fairbrothers, is one of my all-time favorite teachers and he taught me a lot about doing start-ups right.  The professors and administrators at Tuck never claimed they were teaching me how to run a startup.  In fact, they were explicitly teaching general management curriculum to be applied towards larger businesses.


The problem that I see a lot now that I've been in startup land for 4 years is that too many MBAs think that their education in business can be applied directly to startups.  They forget that startups are not a smaller version of a larger company.  Applying a set of frameworks designed for success with larger companies is a good way to guarantee failure when dealing with start-ups.  Professors like Gregg Fairbrothers preach this all the time.  Yet, I still get calls regularly from MBA friends ready to do their first start-up, believing that their MBA education will give them the right tools.


The reality is, we MBAs come with a lot of baggage.  A good way to understand why MBAs are damaged goods for startups is to understand the actual curriculum.  

 Here are standard core courses at any business school: 


 This is the most dangerous of all MBA courses.  In this course, you learn high level analysis, using the 3 C's, the 4 P's, and, of course, Porter's Five Forces.  So, on a typical day, you read a 15-page case on a company's mistakes and then apply one of these frameworks to think through how you would have done it differently.  Doesn't sound so bad right??  Wrong!  This is all high-level business strategy for larger companies.  For a start-up, no one ever knows what will work and what won't.  That's why there's such a focus on iteration in the lean startup methodology.  Great startups figure out what to do by building really fast, listening to customers, and iterating.  More like guess and check.  An MBA, fresh out of a Strategy course, will try to figure out everything on a white board, naively believing that they can think their way out of mistakes.



In accounting class, you study the annual reports of big companies and learn about gross margin, cash flow statements, balance sheets.  You learn that assets=liabilities + equity and how to convert LIFO to FIFO.  This is all really, really useful if you have warehouse full of stuff and customers that pay on credit.  Pre-revenue start-ups usually have no Cost of Goods Sold, no revenue, none of that.  The only accounting you need is to know how many users are out there, how much it costs to acquire a user, and how much money you'll have from that user.  That and a shoebox to store your receipts until you're ready to pay someone to type them in and do your taxes for you.  An MBA will way-over complicate things with talk of deferred taxes, accrual basis, yada yada--and they forget that their gorgeous, complex set of spreadsheets fails the most basic axiom of all analysis: garbage in, garbage out.


Organizational Behavior:

OB was one of my favorite classes.  I would love to have a company big enough someday to implement some of the stuff on building great structure.  For startups with less than 10 people, all that stuff is irrelevant.  No one in OB tells you to let your top hacker work whenever or wherever he wants or that status meetings are best done standing up or that people are motivated more by technical challenge then by compensation.  To be fair, when you're startup gets big enough (over ~20 people), it rocks to have an MBA come in and start to implement structure just as it's really needed.  Too much structure before that gets in the way of the magic.


Corporate Finance, Financial Markets, Statistics:

Not really sure how these apply to the startup world.  Once I exit for millions of dollars and need to figure out where to put my big pile of cash, they may become more useful.  Our 8 person company doesn't worry about the optimal debt to equity level or whether we should be doing any currency hedges.  Corporate finance for the start-up is best served by reading Signals vs Noise to understand the dangers of raising money and following Venture Hacks to learn the tricks of working with Venture Capitalists.  MBAs will generally know how to read WalMart's annual report but will be lost in the complexities of a cap table.


Management Communication:

This is the most painful to include.  Management Communication teaches how to develop awesome powerpoint presentations.  It's actually a very useful skill and, if you're a consultant for a top tier firm, learning how to put together a perfect leave-behind-deck is invaluable.  For a start-up, you want your presenter to internalize Guy Kawasaki's 10-20-30 rule.  You want your decks feeling like a Steve Jobs presentation.  It's about selling a vision, not presenting analysis.  MBA start-up decks always have way too much text, boxes, and arrows.








Perhaps the most difficult part lies in the underlying motivation of why people get MBAs.  Any MBA will tell you that it wasn't the academics that drove them to their master's degree.  Unlike almost every other master's field, in which mastering the content is of primary concern, MBAs usually blow off classes after the first semester (especially at the top schools).  Most people get an MBA because of the network.  They have learned that having a group of successful friends will open doors for you.  Pedigree from a top school=better opportunities for success.


For start-ups, only one thing matters.  Can you build something that people want.  Your pedigree is exactly worthless compared to this simple ability to execute.  And for an MBA that just spent 3 years (remember, the application process takes a year!) and over $120,000 building a network, it's really difficult to hear that the network and the education are no longer as big of an asset as you had hoped.


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52 responses
Perhaps a third year for all MBA's should be starting and running a small business. I like your part on accounting. The best accounting skill (outside of cash-flow management) that you can have for your start-up, is the resourcefulness to hire a good accountant.
Loved your post Jason! I personally think that ManCom the way we learned it doesn't work for most functions in big companies either...
A good way to learn how to start a startup is to start a startup; an MBA signals a lack of confidence. The last thing a startup needs is someone who lacks confidence.
What if the same guy who said "startups are not a smaller version of a larger company" taught at a b-school? Would his students be any more startup-ready?
@Brad what a ridiculous comment. If there is one thing MBA's have, it's confidence (and often they have way too much given what they have achieved).

Agree with the article somewhat in that it's clear that a typical MBA degree doesn't prepare one for launching a startup. However, I don't think it hurts given the founder is aware just how different the material learned in school is compared to what he/she is going to need for leading a startup.

Given the student is not delusional, it's fairly obvious they are very different things.

@arifb confidence vs delusions of entitlement that top tier MBA schools bestow on students are two VERY different things; if they're so confident, why didn't they start a starutp, instead of going to BSchool? If they really wanted training, why not get an MS in computer science instead? Almost anyone would know this is more valuable than an MBA, at least for a software startup.

Working @ goldman sachs and starting a multimillion dollar business are two very different types of "achievements"; I think you have your sense of scale out of proportion.

confidence != mindless arrogance and a sense of entitlement; I have personally given up on interviewing MBAs, precisely due to the lack of confidence + overwhelming abundance of ignorance (honestly, if I ask a dozen HBS students, how do AdWords work, and they can't answer how one of the largest VC-backed tech companies makes money, but they're interviewing for a venture backed software company, that's just retarded).

> MBAs usually blow off classes after the first semester (especially at the top schools)

If this is true, then aren't MBAs useless at large companies, too? These are generally conservative people who blew $100K for networking opportunities to land a mid-level job at a large company (or *shudder* a consulting job). I don't see the "value proposition". ;-)

As an early employee at a startup during the tech boom, I watched our board, consisting of many b-school profs from a top-tier school, pontificate about strategy and marketing while the MBAs in charge couldn't even deliver a prototype for 2 years! They couldn't get 1 customer interested in a beta launch. Both MBAs slunk back to the top consulting company they came from to offer their brilliance to corporate America.

@Brad haha - <quote>if they're so confident, why didn't they start a starutp, instead of going to BSchool? If they really wanted training, why not get an MS in computer science instead? Almost anyone would know this is more valuable than an MBA, at least for a software startup.</quote>

Dude, c'mon. Everyone has their own reasons for going to b-school and while I was disappointed to find that not as many students were there for same reasons as me (had a CS degree, done tech consulting, wanted to simply formally LEARN about the finance/business side of things), I can assure you I didn't go back to school b/c of a lack of confidence. And I really don't agree with the statement that an MS in CS is more valuable than an MBA. Totally different things but while we're stereotyping, I know I met a bunch of Masters CS students when I was doing my CS undergrad all of whom I would be concerned with being on the ground floor of a startup where being a jack of all trades is most valuable (unless there was serious algorithmic complexity involved).

Anyways, it's become so fashionable to rip on MBA's and half of the haters come up with the most ridiculous generalizations that I feel I sometimes have to respond. The statement that an MBA == lack of confidence is one these. It's laughable.

Good day.

@arifb good luck on your startup interviews.
At Babson we were learning the Timmon's model and how to be agile on day one, alongside Porters. Maybe you shouldn't lump all MBA's together or maybe peek your head out over those ivy covered walls sometime.
As a former Bain associate, I agree 100% ;)
I guess like everything else in this world, you get out of your education what you put into it. You slacked your first semester, and then you're surprised that you didn't get out of your education what you wanted? Really?

I attended Columbia's executive MBA program and we worked very hard from the get go, and I couldn't be happier with my education. But at the same time, I'm also not silly enough to think my training in capital markets applies to a 5-person start-up. I'll agree that many of the fulltimers were, frankly, naive beyond belief. That was part of the reason I chose the executive program, which I'd recommend for people who want to build a network of high powered, accomplished professionals. We didn't need to be told to write concise powerpoints, or that quick meetings are more effective -- having been in the workplace for 10 years before attending, these observations are obvious to (and well practiced by) my classmates.

But ultimately the poster still seems to have missed the entire point of business school. It was not just that you master a complex discounted cash flow -- it was that you learned how to learn in a complex environment. This doesn't mean you blindly apply the analytical frameworks you learned in class to ill-fitting environments. It means you understand the various types of frameworks that others have developed, and you apply your thinking and tools to develop the customized frameworks that fit your goals. If that means developing the most efficient just-git-er-done execution process, so be it.

The way this posted blithely shrugs off the power of his network is a great example -- rather than understand that these are your eyes & ears to be used in order to get things done better, faster, cheaper, the poster seems to look at his network as a bunch of drinking buddies. Which they are. But they are also so much more, if you use them.

Perhaps the real problem here is that schools are recruiting students for the wrong reasons... The trend with the fulltime programs seems to be trending younger and younger, which is a huge mistake because that means these folks are bringing less and less into the classrooms. This means the students are putting more and more responsibility on the professors to teach them things the students can really only know by working and managing in the real world. As we can tell from this poster, he makes ridiculously wide generalizations about a very complex body of people -- I can understand why he is having so much trouble adjusting. (But he's homed in on this well-worn niche of bashing fellow MBAs as if we're all just like him, so I get it...)

i good number of my MBA classmates had started and sold multiple start-ups before attending, and they continued to do so after graduation. To found, develop or lead a start-up has much less to do with whether or not you have an MBA, and much more to do with the type of person you are, and how you attack challenges. This poster seems to attack them by blaming others for his lack of preparation, work and experience.

(P.S. I forwarded your post to a few friends from Tuck, who similarly ripped it to shreds. But then again, they are all successful start-up entrepreneurs, so what would they know...)

As a fellow MBA who now runs a startup, I completely agree. One analogy that I have considered is that an MBA education prepares you to drive a car on the highway where you make small corrections along a clear path. In my experience a startup is more like parallel parking in Boston's North End during the winter.
There is no need to be so limiting in your critical assessment, Jason.

MBAs are worthless is *every* context. *grynn*

It seems like everyone *expects * mbas to be world saving , superhuman mean machines , which in all honesty is not fair at all ! Dissing bschool grads is so passe yawn
You need someone to proof read your posts. Good ideas, horrendous writing.
And by proof read, I mean proofread.
nice post. as a current MBA pursuing opportunities with startups and those that fund them, I agree with most everything you write. I would just caution about lumping all MBAs into the same pile. For some an MBA is just a way to learn some skills and transition from one industry into another.

at any post MBA job the training you receive on the job will be much more beneficial than what you learned in class regardless if you're at GS, Bain, or a startup. any MBA that thinks they are fully prepared for their next job is just deluding themselves.

Interesting post, and very apropos for me as I have a startup but am headed to business school this year. In my case I think this will allow me to learn fundamentals of business while continuing to work on my startup (albeit part time). My colleague will continue to work full time, and if/when we get funded, he will get a salary and I will not.

It wasn't an easy decision, but I don't think the b-school/startup debate isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. I think you can do both. Clearly you did. It just annoys me when I hear entrepreneurs talk about b-school as the death knell for startups. For people who are highly motivated to start a business, school isn't going to be a detriment, unless you use it as an excuse (oh, now I have so many loans, I need a "real job.") But guess what? Those same people would have found other reasons not to start a business. Entrepreneurs find a way. That's how we roll!

I will say, however, that failing to get into b-school last year was definitely the best thing that ever happened to me as an aspiring entrepreneur, because it led me to start my current venture. It's still anyone's guess whether we will make it big (I can always leave school if we do), but I think the opportunity to build a network and not have to worry about making a salary will be worth it. And yes, I'm aware of the irony that in deciding to forgo a salary, I am instead paying someone else $120K. Strangely, I think it will work.

I do smirk, though, when my b-school friends try to talk about applying some highfalutin premise to starting a biz. All the talk is about how to build the product and get funded. I'm like, "yeah, and how are you gonna get customers to use it?" Theory is one thing, selling is quite another.

With all due respect, the reference to "Present like SJ" is not a good one. The referenced presentation is one of the worst I ever saw and fails to deliver on its promise - flat on the face. Trivial advice coupled with poor visuals.
you don't know what you don't know. So for anyone that hasn't gone through the '3 years' regiment described above, that person wouldn't appreciate what you've finely waxed poetically. That said, I agree mostly to what you've waxed.
Trouble is, once we learn something (in school or elsewhere), it seems obvious to us. You go through even a Marketing 101, and stuff you read from TechCrunch to WSJ makes much more sense, but over time you forget it's making sense because of the concepts you picked up in school. Obviously MBAs aren't tailor made for startups, but to say they're actually harmful for startups is a bit of a stretch.
This is classic jocks vs nerds rivalry. Stereotypes mostly hurt those who live by them. There is a great movement beginning to take place that points all startup entrepreneurs in the right direction. Steve Blank writes about this very issue Very entertaining and, most importantly, extremely critical for success.
As many have alluded to in the comments, the use of stereotyping in this post basically relieves it of any credibility.

Beyond that, I have a few points to make:

1) All MBA students and programs are not created equal. In terms of gaining a corporate education vs a startup education, the focus of the program has great relevance. (ie, big programs like Dartmouth might not offer as valuable an experience as one like, say CU-Boulder [yes, that is where I went])

2) In any educational experience - whether undergraduate, graduate, or kindergarten - the value attained by the student is totally dependent on his/her commitment to learning and bettering him/herself. I find it very sad (and unusual) that your experience at a program like Dartmouth was that "MBAs usually blow off classes after the first semester (especially at the top schools)". I never once blew off a class for no good reason in my two years of school (ie, I did miss class so that I could have a job after graduation). And if you really count the application process as an entire year of work, then you probably haven't ever had a real job...have you ever worked on a melon farm for $5/hr? ...have you ever worked construction for $6/ a 15 or 16 yr old? A little lesson you should have learned by now: you get out what you put in (as @jvill also mentioned) earn your keep, bro!

3) I could continue ripping on the poorly expressed points in this post, but *some* of the other readers seem to be doing a good job at that. I admit there are a few acceptable arguments made (eg, many core classes in the MBA curriculum are aimed toward the corporate-oriented student), but for the most part, I believe the overall message here is unfounded and shortsighted.

I graduated in May with my MBA. I decided to get my MBA in hopes that I would (a) learn a lot more of the basics of business, (b) forge new relationships that would last the rest of my life, and (c) open up doors to new career opportunities that would lead to the realization of my life goals...which just wasn't happening as a production manager at a manufacturing plant in Indiana.

So far, the MBA route has worked out pretty well. I finished school with a much better foundational understanding of how businesses operate. I have friends/colleagues that I would have never met had I not attended b-school, and they are awesome people. I am working *for a startup* that is wildly successful and infinitely grateful to have me as an employee...despite the fact that I am an MBA that "come(s) with a lot of baggage". I am well on my way to learning what it takes to run one's own business...which is what I plan to do after our current company hits it big (which it will). And, on top of all that, while I work with some of the best entrepreneurs in the world on a daily basis (through my involvement in the TechStars program) and hear many jokes about how 'for every MBA that a startup hires, they lose $500k in valuation', I have also realized that it's just not true and is used in absolute jest by the people who really know what they are talking about. On a related note, and to add to the point made by others: the network you build in any professional/personal situation is invaluable and not to be discounted.

Perhaps this post was written just to generate buzz and traffic. But if that is the case, you should have explicitly pointed out the fact that your argument does not apply to all individuals who decide to get an MBA.

To conclude, Jason, I sincerely and respectfully suggest that you speak for yourself and try not to generalize so much. Like your mother always said, "everyone is special in their own way"... and like someone else once said, "different strokes for different folks."

Now that I have this out of my system, it is time to get back to work...helping our startup continue to kick ass.

I will agree with @jvill @Tim Falls. Most of my friends in the MBA class realize that they are recepients of some incredicble tools (education, and network are tools in my opinion) and one has to pick and choose the tools to be deployed depending on the circumstance. In the case of startups, it may be the network, but as the statup grows to even 100 people, a lot of the educational tools should start becoming more relevant. It all depends on the emotional intelligence of the person using the tools.
I founded a startup at 23, messed up my partnership agreement due to a cheap attorney, messed up the accounting due to a cheap accountant, had to suffer through a miserable partner due to the poor legal work, had to redo my taxes, couldn't raise any money and had to borrow against my personal credit, lived in a tiny place in NYC and fun consisted of driving 8 hours to ski at Killington. I did 500K in sales and finally threw in the towel when I couldn't get it to scale.

Then I got an MBA and...

Started another company, used my MBA training and new connections to get a great accountant (on credit), a great lawyer (on credit), VC funding, partners with PhDs, clients that pay big cash up front. I now live in California, married a nice girl and ski at Squaw Valley. It's good. Real good. The MBA made it happen.

My MBA was at Berkeley. It cost 40K after scholarships, I worked on the startup throughout the program and got a B- (MBA for F) in Corp Strategy. Personally, I'd say it was a ridiculously good decision.

For the Tuck grads with their world class training for the General Motors Junior Executive General Management Rotational Program... well, you should have bet on a curriculum geared for this century.

I would say the same problem is for Computer Science courses. In school, you really learn a little how to deliver a quality product in start-up environment.
Guess they don't teach grammar at Tuck either.
"An MBA, fresh out of a Strategy course, will try to figure out everything on a white board, naively believing that they can think their way out of mistakes."

I still don't understand why startups can't both work things out on a whiteboard *and* guess-and-test. Before spending 80 person-hours coding, don't you think it makes sense to spend 6 person-hours doing a detailed analysis of what to code?

One important use of my MBA in my current start-up has been the ability to better position marketing, sales and business development efforts when targeting enterprise clients. As you mentioned, many of the tools learned in MBA programs are geared towards large institutions. Start-ups providing enterprise solutions need to understand how their clients operate - the MBA skills definitely align with enterprise development efforts.
Steve Blank teaches at Stanford. There is still hope.
The author is dead-on but MBA's shouldn't be taking this personally. All education has value when applied properly, but entrepreneurs with MBA's need to remember that the agility and creativity required cannot always be taught. For businesses, results matter more than resumes. In large companies, the more top-level resumes you throw at a problem, the higher statistical probably you have of finding a good solution - but that's not something you can afford to do in a startup. Telling startups to 'beware' is perfect because there's more to look for in an MBA than where they went - the best hire is someone with an education who also has an innate entrepreneurial mind.
@A.C.G. --
the argument still stands: generalizing someone in terms of their abilities and value to a company (of any size) and basing that generalization on his/her education is ridiculous and illogical. if you think the author is dead-on, i respectfully (and strongly) disagree. and i believe it is completely reasonable for MBA's to take it personally since he is speaking directly to us. any writer should know better than to degrade others based on his/her personal experiences and stick to speaking for him/herself
Sorry MBAs, but getting an MBA can make you a worse entrepreneur. It's like learning how to play football will make you a better soccer player. No. It will likely make you worse.
There are some pluses to an MBA degree, of course. But, I think they are outweighed by the minuses - impractical, heavy on theory, expensive, false orientation etc. May I also suggest The Success Manual (, which contains concise, actionable summaries from 100+ greatest business and self-help books. It covers 130 topics in all.
Well done. It’s important we all get beyond this MBA stereo-typing: it's a 2 year educational program - not something that can/should define a person's career, qualify their fit within an industry or be antithetical to entrepreneurship. Rarely are entrepreneurs ever called out as unqualified because of their Political Science or History undergrad degrees.

An MBA puts a few extra skills into the entrepreneur’s kit bag (as it does for the aspiring corporator). Without those skills, any start-up founder will struggle with turning their “cool idea” into something people will part dollars for – an important distinction that is often missed by technical and non-technical people alike. An idea is not a product. It is a long and difficult journey converting one into the other when the path hasn’t yet been carved.

Nice work and good luck with FlightCaster!

Jason - great article. I'm also a Tuck alum (albeit 20 years ago), and I fully agree...b-school trains people to be corporate middle-management (not even senior execs, in my opinion)...and not at all entrepreneurs. My demographic experience was similar to yours, in 1990, only about 4 or 5 others out of a class size of ~150 were entrepreneurs...and I wasn't even one of those! Many go for the big bux asap, which is fine, if that's what you're into. But you're highlighting an entirely new array of issues which could be written into a separate version of "what they didn't teach me at XYZ business school". An entire book, or more!

I would add a caveat to your mantra, "can you build what people want?" -- which I do agree with wholeheartedly -- but there's more to it, which I'm sure you also understand. That is, for one thing, people don't always know what they want, and they are not necessarily very good at, or willing to, tell you what it is they want...with any degree of accuracy. For this and other powerful reasons, a complement to your mantra might want to be, "can you sell to people with whom you do, or can, have a strong/trusted relationship?" (or, "who do you know well? whoever that is...sell X to them"). While the production side of the equation is unquestionably vital for an entrepreneur to become baptized in, the demand side -- that which requires building and maintaining relationships with your customers and others in your business landscape -- is essentially as important. Having a relationship with the customer helps greatly in the necessarily iterative process of experimenting, improving, perfecting whatever it is your producing/selling to them.

Do you agree? If so/not, I'd love to hear your/others' comments. Again, thanks, and very best of luck on your new idea...

Charlie G.

Just to be clear, though, I am still a huge, huge fan of Tuck, and I do believe b-school is quite valuable for many other people, and reasons...just not necessarily (traditionally) for entrepreneurs.

I TOTALLY agree, what an awesome post.

I did an MBA in Durham, UK (top 10) - I took all the entrepreneurial modules, won a number of prizes for my startup idea (all 'business plan' competitions of course),


Launched biz and waited for success

Man- my busines SUCKED!!!

Not once did someone mention growth, trending tech, agile, DM or permission marketing.

All theory that really is gone from my head now.

Amazing experience and time, yes

Good for my entrepreneurial journey, nah. Maybe Stanford is different, but most biz schools just dont get it. Most theory is useless in startup land

Great post dude - will keep following your blog

Hi Jason,

I'm way behind on yournews - congratulations on FlightCaster.

I'm half way through my Stanford MBA so this is a highly relevant article for me.

I agree with most of the subjects you dismiss (Strategy, Accounting, Finance) but stick up for Stanford's:
- OB class: Yes it covers plenty of big company politics, but also negotiation and networking. Great case on Heidi Roizen. I'm expecting even more from the famous interpersonal dynamics class (aka "touchy feely") next year, where you discover exactly how your peers perceive you.
- Haim Mendelson's e-commerce class: Highly recommended 1st year class that digs into the various business models (iTunes, Amazon, Webvan, AirBnB, Google, twitter, eBay, Second Life, Kayak, etc). He emphasizes unit economics rather than financial statements. This is the "strategy" class for entrepreneurs.
- And then a whole raft of dedicated startup classes in second year with a heavy bias towards action, not just reading cases. See

I also struggle with the case method. The trouble is that it sets you up with everything you need to answer a question, and you feel like a hero. The real challenge in an unknown environment (which any startup should be in) is know what question to ask. Finding the answer is the easy bit. And then implementing a solution is what counts. A suboptimal decision well executed is better than a perfect recommendation but no action at all.



i see a lot of bitter coders here who are jealous they don't have an MBA. @tim fails - Tuck is one of the smaller MBA programs @ around 250 student a class. to contrast, Harvard and Kellogg have around 800-1000 students a class.

i find this thread to be filled with misinformed, naive commentary about MBA's. i'm sure you're all *really* successful entrepreneurs. because idiots always build great things, right?

Hey, I'm no coder. I did an MBA and it just didn't help me start a business. Totally accept that I was at fault for my mistakes too but just felt the MBA didn't teach me a lot of the stuff it should have.

MBA's are great, but some elements of them should be optimised for Entrepreneurs

I list those things in my blog post about it if anyone is interested:

I'm surprised at how defensive -- and non-thinking -- MBAs here are! (Well, maybe I shouldn't be...) Jason doesn't put down MBA programs nor does he say that they're useless. He says simply -- and CORRECTLY -- that the MBA curriculum is NOT geared toward helping students aiming for start-ups. This is a very important point to make because many MBA applicants -- and even students themselves -- mistakenly think that enrolling in an MBA program is THE way to go if they want to go into start-ups. Jason succinctly makes his point and backs it up with specific details on why each course is not suited for this group of people.
Jason, thank you for writing this. It's a great post and the comments that people have contributed are also great. I do feel that you are spot on in your explanations of how an MBA can actually be a handicap in the world of startups. However I do not feel that we should through the baby out with the bath water. I have an MBA and while our coursework may have been similar, our experiences were very different. I earned my MBA degree part-time, online, and from a state university (so it was pretty cheap). I honestly only picked up an additional 2 or 3 people to add to my network (in that I keep in touch with them after graduation). However it was absolutely worth it. What I learned challenged me and gave me the opportunity to flex my thinking and personal management skills. All to the tune of under $20K (you can't even buy a car for that). I never expect to apply all that I learned in B-School. But I do expect to not be intimidated or feel that I completely don't understand the concepts of finance, accounting, business communication, etc. I recently had an interview with a great startup. While I didn't have to exactly apologize for having an MBA, I did have to downplay it. And I believe it is for the exact reasons that you listed. However my take is that it should not be a handicap. Rather it should show people that you are and advanced learner and you do not shy away from challenges. But I would not spend $100K on an MBA just to feel that I am competent enough to start my own business.
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