For example, with more online and campus-based MBA programs focusing both on technology and entrepreneurship, the cosmopolitan city of Toronto, Canada has been attracting tech MBA entrepreneurs by the hundreds for the last few years.
These successful entrepreneurs are being drawn to Toronto by the Creative Destruction Lab, which is a venture lab located at the Rotman School of Management in Canada. Dozens of start ups, most of them tech based, have been accelerated in 2014 at the lab. The purpose of the organization is to boost the probability of a venture’s success by giving employees a free space in which to work. The lab also provides them with access to fellows who are successful, well established entrepreneurs.
According to one of the attendees of the lab, the tech and entrepreneur focus of the lab is unique and is a key part of the success of the businesses that work there. This particular business is called Bionym, which specializes in biometrics and authentication technology for electronics. Since the company came to the lab, the firm has increased to 27 employees and raised more than $1 million US in funding. The flagship product for the firm is Nymi, which is a wearable ID device that users your EKG signal to validate identity.
In its first year of operation, the Creative Destruction Lab has generated eight successful ventures and generated more than $60 million in US dollars.
Outside entrepreneurs are not the sole beneficiaries of the lab. Rotman MBAs are able to work with ventures through its Venture Lab Course. This gives final year MBA entrepreneurs the chance to ID and solve common business problems that the start ups face.
MBAs Focused on Entrepreneurship on the Rise
Given the uneven pace of the economic recovery, entrepreneurship has become a popular specialization for many MBA programs, both on campus and online.
Many MBA students are not interested in the traditional path of the MBA, such as finance or accounting, and want to focus their studies on how to run a successful start up company. According to a recent Graduate Management Admissions Council Survey, 11% of MBA alumni that graduated in the last 50 years now run their own companies. Business schools both in the US and Europe are tailoring their MBA programs to make sure that students can hone the skills they need to launch their own successful enterprise.
Many top MBA programs in the US and UK now offer all types of extracurricular activities involving entrepreneurship, including clubs, venture clubs and competitions where students pitch start up company ideas.
For example, the London Business School has eight different classes where students learn the entire lifecycle of a start up company. Cass Business School’s Center for Entrepreneurship offers alumni access to a special venture fund. That fund has already invested in 7 start up firms. The largest of those is Alva, which is now generating $4 million per year and has a staff of 25.
Many of the top online and campus MBA programs are able to attract some of the top talent in the world, which is another good reason for the aspiring entrepreneur to attend. One of the biggest benefits of going to MBA school is the opportunity to network and to learn from one’s fellow students.
Other universities are partnering with their community to bring business experience to MBA entrepreneurs, and to also expand economic opportunity to their area. In New Orleans, six Loyola University MBA students are using their entrepreneurship consulting skills with Cajun Fire Brewing Company, which is a craft brewery based in New Orleans. This was part of New Orleans’ Entrepreneur Week, which was March 22-28. This event attracted more than 5000 business leaders and entrepreneurs across the US. They came together to support early stage ventures in the city.
The MBA students honed their entrepreneurship skills as they worked with the brewing company to deal with business challenges and to leverage strategic business opportunities. Team members sat in on entrepreneur meetings, got advice from business experts in the community and learned new entrepreneurship and management tools that enriched their skillsets.
Over time, we anticipate that there will be more and more focus on nurturing entrepreneurship in MBA schools around the world. That means if you are going to be a business student, learn all you can in the next few years about running your own company, because you may very well end up your own boss someday!