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Best school for Entrepreneurship...

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Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2008, 05:52
My dream is to start an aviation insurance underwriting company. (Think Gecko learns to fly!) There are currently only about 6 that actually do the underwriting for this industry. I currently work for a large insurance provider so I'm getting valuable experience in the industry, but I know I need more business training to start and run my own company like this.

Which schools are the best for entrepreneureship?
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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2008, 06:05
According to US News & World Report:

Business Specialty Rankings: Entrepreneurship
Ranked in 2008

1 Babson College (Olin) Babson Park, MA
2 Stanford University Stanford, CA
3 Harvard University Boston, MA
4 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) Philadelphia, PA
5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) Cambridge, MA
6 University of Southern California (Marshall) Los Angeles, CA
7 Indiana University--Bloomington (Kelley) Bloomington, IN
8 University of California--Berkeley (Haas) Berkeley, CA
9 University of Texas--Austin (McCombs) Austin, TX
10 University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) Chapel Hill, NC
11 University of California--Los Angeles (Anderson) Los Angeles, CA
12 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (Ross) Ann Arbor, MI
13 University of Chicago Chicago, IL
University of Maryland--College Park (Smith) College Park, MD
15 Northwestern University (Kellogg) Evanston, IL
16 Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) Pittsburgh, PA
University of Arizona (Eller) Tucson, AZ
18 Syracuse University (Whitman) Syracuse, NY
19 New York University (Stern) New York, NY
20 Columbia University New York, NY
University of Colorado--Boulder (Leeds) Boulder, CO
University of Virginia (Darden) Charlottesville, VA
23 Cornell University (Johnson) Ithaca, NY
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Lally) Troy, NY
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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2008, 06:22
I think any Top 10-15 school is going to have a great entrepreneurship program. My advice would be to look into the specifics of each program, and see which aligns with your goals the best -

As an example, if I had to guess, I would imagine Haas and Stanford are probably great for entrepreneurship, but more in the tech field...

In the end though, anywhere in the Top 10-15 is going to be able to provide what you need I think. I do, however, believe that Kellogg has some aviation specific classes in their curriculum (If I remember correctly).

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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2008, 06:27
raabenb wrote:
According to US News & World Report:

Business Specialty Rankings: Entrepreneurship
Ranked in 2008

1 Babson College (Olin) Babson Park, MA
2 Stanford University Stanford, CA
3 Harvard University Boston, MA
4 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) Philadelphia, PA
5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) Cambridge, MA
6 University of Southern California (Marshall) Los Angeles, CA
7 Indiana University--Bloomington (Kelley) Bloomington, IN
8 University of California--Berkeley (Haas) Berkeley, CA
9 University of Texas--Austin (McCombs) Austin, TX
10 University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) Chapel Hill, NC
11 University of California--Los Angeles (Anderson) Los Angeles, CA
12 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (Ross) Ann Arbor, MI
13 University of Chicago Chicago, IL
University of Maryland--College Park (Smith) College Park, MD
15 Northwestern University (Kellogg) Evanston, IL
16 Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) Pittsburgh, PA
University of Arizona (Eller) Tucson, AZ
18 Syracuse University (Whitman) Syracuse, NY
19 New York University (Stern) New York, NY
20 Columbia University New York, NY
University of Colorado--Boulder (Leeds) Boulder, CO
University of Virginia (Darden) Charlottesville, VA
23 Cornell University (Johnson) Ithaca, NY
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Lally) Troy, NY


To take a line from River, speciality rankings need to be taken with a grain of salt. I don't think any sane person would take Babson over Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Chicago, Kellogg, MIT, etc, etc. I'd consider the area and industry that you want to be in and start from there. Part of the important pieces of starting your own business is utlizing your network. If you want to be in California (especially for in hi-tech), Haas and Stanford are probably your best bet. UCLA and USC (especially for RE entrepreneurship) wouldn't be too shabby either. If you want to be in NY, well, Columbia and NYU won't do you wrong. I don't think anybody is taking Syracuse of NYU or Cornell...
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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2008, 06:43
I don't want to be in the tech industry. And the aviation classes the schools might have won't be that pertinent to the insurance industry of aviation (most likley). They'll probably deal with manufacturing or airlines. I'm talking about general aviation insurance underwriting. I'm a pilot and my family is filled with pilots (4 others besides me).

I agree about the M7 schools. They're good a so much, and the name brand would help me so much when I go to get investors. It's not cheap to start an underwriting company. State law in Oklahoma requires $1.5M which would not even be close to being adequate. I'd spend most of the profit on reinsurance.
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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2008, 06:50
This is easy...Wharton. I say this more because of the insurance connection as well as the "entrepreneurial" aspect.

Although it's currently a tough time in the cycle, I believe that there is both long-term stability and potential growth (lookup penetration in BRIC vs US) in the industry. I think your plan of starting a specialty underwriter could potentially be a profitable one. One thing I've learned from insurance private equity land is that for managers seeking capital the MBA doesn't mean anything at all, especially when compared to track record/experience.
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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 10 Jul 2008, 07:20
Yeah, starting the company is my long term goal. Short term would be to get my MBA and then get a job with something like AIG that does the bulk of aviation underwriting. I have a law degree already, so I understand much of the industry through the legal side of it. I just need a solid business background. Plus, with success, I can use some of my own capital towards the startup.

Profitability is always hard with a niche industry because there is usually very little margin for error. I have to be able to demonstrate my savvy in the industry and my ability to run a company in such a specific market that is actually shrinking every year. (Not a great peptalk for myself,huh?)



cougarblue wrote:
This is easy...Wharton. I say this more because of the insurance connection as well as the "entrepreneurial" aspect.

Although it's currently a tough time in the cycle, I believe that there is both long-term stability and potential growth (lookup penetration in BRIC vs US) in the industry. I think your plan of starting a specialty underwriter could potentially be a profitable one. One thing I've learned from insurance private equity land is that for managers seeking capital the MBA doesn't mean anything at all, especially when compared to track record/experience.

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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2008, 02:18
You'll want to look for a school where entrepreneurship is "in the air", so to speak, where all the students join the entrepreneurship club, lots of networking events and business plan support are in place to help students out.

Also, it strongly depends on where you want to work in the long term. In starting companies or working at startups in your specific industry, you want to have easy access to the local entrepreneurs. For example, Haas and Stanford are so strong in entrepreneurship because the entire SF Bay Area is filled with entrepreneurs. Similarly with UCLA, MIT/Harvard, and other schools.

With that said, I also want to dispel the myth that Haas (and Stanford, to some extent) is only good at high-tech entrepreneurship. There are quite a few people who start companies in something completely unrelated to tech. I think two women started a cooking/chef startup based on a magazine I read from the Lester Entrepreneurship Center. I'll probably be able to answer more questions after school starts late-August, so post or ping me if you have more entrepreneurship questions with Haas.

In my opinion, here are some schools that have strong entrepreneurship programs in place and lots of connections. This is based on my visits, research, and personal opinions, so please do not be offended if your school is not on here. :)

In no particular order (in the top 15):
Stanford, Haas, Harvard, MIT, Wharton, UCLA

Kellogg and Chicago are both putting a LOT of money and effort into their entrepreneurship program. Based on what I saw at Kellogg's admit weekend, they're not fully "there" yet, but they will be in a few years. Chicago seems to be getting "there" very soon too, and the area has a good amount of entrepreneurs for networking and job opportunities.
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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 12 Jul 2008, 23:16
This might be an unpopular answer, but I'll throw my $0.02 in.

Because this is an MBA forum, the bulk of the people here will see a top-ranked MBA as the solution. I disagree. I don't think a brand name MBA is necessary for what you want to do, nor do I think that dropping $100K or more on a degree will result in a commensurate return. Why? I'm close to many movers and shakers in the general aviation industry (CEO of Cessna, VP of Beechcraft, partners at Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, etc., etc.). Having gone to XYZ business school means diddly to these guys. Sure, you need investors, but you're not starting a hedge fund or a management consultancy. Your target investors aren't top-tier MBA types, they're well-off industry guys who love airplanes and fly their own Lancairs, SR22s, and 206s to Oshkosh every year.

But will the education be that much better at a highly ranked MBA that it warrants it anyway? Will you be that much smarter having gone to a school with a top ranked entrepreneurship program that you're destined for success? Again, I don't think so. What you want to do is so specific that I think you'd be far better off moving to Wichita and getting a job there to learn the aviation insurance business form the inside. You could even work towards an MBA at Wichita State University where you're guaranteed to meet mid-career general aviation industry insiders who will give you far more useful insight into your business plan than any M7 MBA graduate could.
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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 13 Jul 2008, 02:06
Toploader, I agree with you partially. To me, there are two types of entrepreneurs. One that just goes out there and "do it". Whether moving to Wichita or just living out of their car and working out of their garage. The other type are the ones who wants to be a little more prepared, otherwise known to be more conservative. Those are often the ones that people do not hear about because while many of them are successful, there aren't as many "smashing" successes like the Steve Jobs/Bill Gates out there.

I believe the people who chose to go to B-school generally are of the 2nd type. Ones who have no background in business, yet wants to mitigate the entrepreneurship risk a little before jumping in. An entrepreneur friend told me the best. There are some who just run and leap off the cliff, and there are others who stand at the cliff for a while, gather their wits, and then jump. :)

I think the "top" entrepreneurship schools help prepare the latter mentally, help them be more prepared, help them get into the entrepreneurship mindset, and sometimes give them that extra "push" to leap off the cliff. :wink: Therefore, for those entrepreneurs, a program that's very extensive and supportive will be of utmost value. For a "down and dirty" entrepreneur, no MBA degree will make them more or less likely to succeed.
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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship... [#permalink] New post 13 Jul 2008, 06:24
Toploader, I have to disagree with you on some parts of what you said. I appreciate you taking the time to give me your $0.02. My father works for Raytheon and I grew up in Kansas (now live in OKC). The reason that I think a top MBA will be worth the investment is that the knowledge a person gains in an MBA program is similar (if not the exact same) as what you can learn on the job; howeve, on the job is far riskier and a much longer process. Many lessons learned are by trial and error. When you're dealing with tens of millions of dollars, there isn't room for that kind of "teaching".

You mentioned something about my target investors not being top-tier MBA types. My target investor is anyone that has money, believes in me, and wants to own part of a great company that will make a lot of money. I don't care if it's the retired teacher down the block from me that just won the lottery, or James Schuster (CEO of Hawker Beechcraft). I will need investors. When you run any multimillion dollar company, the level of your education matters along with your experience. When I go to get investors, the ones I can seek out at first are going to be people that satisfy the public offering exception with the SEC. These are highly "sophisticated investors". Don't underestimate the complexity of starting a company such as this (or purchasing an existing company and expanding the lines offered).

As for moving to Wichita to get a look at the aviation insurance industry from the inside, that doesn't really make much sense. There are less than a dozen companies that actually underwrite insurance policies for the aviation industry and i'm 99% sure none of them are based in Wichita. There are manufacturers in Wichita, but working for them is not going to get my any experience in the insurance industry. My current job with the 3rd largest insurance company in the US does give me some experience.

One thing an MBA at a top school will do for me is it will open doors to investors that have gone on and created their own huge businesses and made millions. They'll schedule a meeting to talk to another alumni of their school before they would do the same for just anyone with a good idea. There is already and instant connection there.

I don't see the value of the Wichita State MBA. I could be wrong, but because there aren't actual companies in Wichita that do the underwriting, I would not likely meet mid-level managers within the industry.

Just to make it clear, I'm not looking to start an insurance agency and sell insurance, I'm looking to write the policy that is sold by the agencies around the country. These are two completely different things and regulated in vastly different ways.

Toploader wrote:
This might be an unpopular answer, but I'll throw my $0.02 in.

Because this is an MBA forum, the bulk of the people here will see a top-ranked MBA as the solution. I disagree. I don't think a brand name MBA is necessary for what you want to do, nor do I think that dropping $100K or more on a degree will result in a commensurate return. Why? I'm close to many movers and shakers in the general aviation industry (CEO of Cessna, VP of Beechcraft, partners at Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, etc., etc.). Having gone to XYZ business school means diddly to these guys. Sure, you need investors, but you're not starting a hedge fund or a management consultancy. Your target investors aren't top-tier MBA types, they're well-off industry guys who love airplanes and fly their own Lancairs, SR22s, and 206s to Oshkosh every year.

But will the education be that much better at a highly ranked MBA that it warrants it anyway? Will you be that much smarter having gone to a school with a top ranked entrepreneurship program that you're destined for success? Again, I don't think so. What you want to do is so specific that I think you'd be far better off moving to Wichita and getting a job there to learn the aviation insurance business form the inside. You could even work towards an MBA at Wichita State University where you're guaranteed to meet mid-career general aviation industry insiders who will give you far more useful insight into your business plan than any M7 MBA graduate could.

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Re: Best school for Entrepreneurship...   [#permalink] 13 Jul 2008, 06:24
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