This post in response to a post on Forbes.com called 8 Ways Business School Can Be an Incubator for Your Startup. @UWVelocity asked me to share my thoughts so here it is.
I’m glad that business school worked out so well for the entrepreneur that wrote that post, and I agree that a lot can be gained from attending business, but I don’t think it’s the best thing to do when starting a company. In fact, my advice to anyone who’s serious about entrepreneurship would be to drop out of college immediately (unless maybe they’re at an ivy league school).
The author outlines eight benefits of business school, which I agree are benefits, but I can think of cheaper and more effective ways accomplishing all of them. Her list includes:
- Sounding board for ideas
- Beta customers
- Business school competitions
- Industry connections
- “Spin on the point of view” (or knowledge)
Rather than taking on the excessive amounts of debt that’s required to go to business school, I would start by moving to a populated area with a great startup community. NYC or Silicon Valley. I live in NYC, so I’ll speak for NYC, but I’m sure it’s the same in Silicon Valley and probably some other cities like Boulder, Austin, etc.
In NYC there are events, classes, lectures, pitch events, meetups, etc. pretty much every night. Often times I’m forced to decide between two or more awesome events happening each night. These events are populated by entrepreneurs, startup employees, investors, and aspiring entrepreneurs. The people there can be great sounding boards for ideas, teammates, advisors, and investors. I met the Founder of my company at a conference and I’ve met multiple potential hires for the company at various events.
Finding beta customers in the age of the interweb is easier than ever and in NYC you can find almost any demographic of people If you’re customers are college students, I’d walk onto the NYU or Columbia campus.
Instead of business school competitions, startups can apply to pitch at one of the many public pitch events, network into meetings with investors, use Angellist, or use ohours.org to “refine your business model and begin discussions with VCs or angel investors.”
NYC is filled with large companies, including but not limited to financial services, media and fashion. Networking and cold reach outs can get you meetings with these people.
Lastly, to learn, there are tons of Skillshare classes, many taught by awesome entrepreneurs and investors most nights of the week. Udemy and other similar sites have great videos and online courses that are cheap and effective and don’t require you to attend in person. Lean Startup Machine does classes and seminars that I would highly recommend entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs attend. Managing a startup is much different than managing a large company and it requires unique knowledge and skillsets. Even blogs and books can be great cost and time-effective resources.
Yes, business school can be a great option for entrepreneurs, but I don’t think it’s the best.