You hear this debate more often than not on coffee tables and amongst want-to-be entrepreneurs. Without being too diplomatic my take on this is ‘NO’ you don’t need one to start up and that has absolutely nothing to do with me being a non-MBA J
In more cases than not, ignorance is bliss. When I started off, I didn’t know a thing about how to make a business plan, how to manage cash flows, valuations and DCF, term sheets, employment contracts, product IPRs nothing! The only thing I had was passion and the fire to make a difference and to create value, and I never experienced a need of going to a B-School to come this far.
Just the other day I met a management grad at one of the start up events and I happened to strike a conversation with him. He had an idea around which he wanted to build a business but he was reluctant to even start off the same since he had been thinking more about the cash flows and business plans rather than focusing on the idea, prototyping it and getting it out in the market. And this case of over thinking and over analyzing runs really deep amongst almost all management grads I come across.
Starting up is really like swimming which you cant learn without experiencing it or jumping in the pool, it really cant be learnt in a B-School or mulling over complicated excel sheets.
In my experience being a technical or a domain guy is at a bigger advantage of starting up than a pure management grad for 3 reasons:
1. A techie can get the idea/prototype off the ground up and running on his own skill-set without spending a lot of money which can surely gets him in a good position to either recruit or convince a business guy to come on board or you simply learn the business side of things in your journey. On the other hand a pure management grad needs to burn cash on hire a developer or a designer and has to overtly depend on him to dish out a kick-ass product.
2. Secondly a management grad having spent time and money (maybe taking a loan with the ridiculously exorbitant MBA fees) has far more liabilities on him, and the time spent on having a start up is like a time bomb ticking and hence building immense monetary pressure which can make things go horribly wrong. (half baked product launches, taking up part time services and losing focus et all) My way to look at it is, if you know entrepreneurship is your way forward, its worth investing your time and money on starting up and taking your idea to the market rather than making it to a B-School.
3. Thirdly running a start up gives you a world of experience on the business side, be it sales or marketing or running your operations in addition to the technical or domain skills you would anyways have. Anyways learning marketing in a B-School won’t go beyond your usual Kotlers and sales not beyond the traditional 1.0 method. In reality, with the present strategic marketing taught in Kotler has taken a backseat with more of operational marketing taking center-stage and marketing automation is what works and also sales 2.0 is where the future is.
Also with the kind of management curriculum that exists, it’s worth giving your start-up a chance without an MBA (I call running a start-up as an alternate MBA course free of cost) and it will have more chances of making it big.
» Recommended Read (by Guest Author, Vivek Wadhwa): Is an MBA a Plus or a Minus in the Startup World?
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