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Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs?

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Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 11 May 2015, 16:05
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First time poster here. I have been following th P&Q Blog's MBA Odds series, and I have one major question: Are top 10 MBA programs really that unwelcoming towards admitting entrepreneurs? I've started a business that has done incredibly well- we have brand name venture backing, are turning a profit, and we aren't over leveraged enough to grow to a staff of 50. I really want to go to a top MBA program, but hearing the talks from Sandy Kriesberg, it seems like adcoms hate entrepreneurs. Are there any entrepreneurs at top programs that applied as entrepreneurs willing to tell their story?

Stats:
GPA: 3.5
GMAT: 750
We: 2 yrs at BB Investment Bank, VC backed entrepreneur
LOR: one from a longtime mentor and investor (VC guy, HBS Alum), past manager at BB

Target schools:
Columbia
MIT (Dream school)
Chicago (also dream school)
Kellogg
Duke Fuqua
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Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 12 May 2015, 08:06
I also follow Sandy's blog and handicapping - a lot of times I agree with what he has to say and then there are times when I feel like advice needs to be taken with a grain of salt because when you are evaluating a person's profile on a board or from an email - you aren't able to delve into the nuances that can make for a great story and consequently make for a strong application.

Yes they hate entrepreneurs, but do they hate you?....that is the question.

I like you :) and my feeling is that you have a very solid profile and a great surface story. I don't know you or your start-up but I feel that if anyone could, you could make a case for a pre and post-MBA entrepreneurial career. Sloan has a strong E&I track and then there is the entrepreneurship center. The advantage of Sloan over Chicago is being able to take advantage of MIT + potential collaborations with kids at HBS, BU or in NYC.
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 13 May 2015, 09:04
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Ok, first things first, adcoms don't HATE entrepreneurs. They're a bit wary, that's all. You get a smidge more scrutiny than, say, a consultant or a PE analyst. For good reason, there are a lot more...nuances...to your application. You're not that easy to compare.

Now, that said, what adcoms tend to not like more are "wanna be" entrepreneurs. The consultants and bankers and corporate leaders who want to launch their own companies in 2 - 5 years with no idea and no entrepreneurial experience to boot.

But, back to you. Honestly, you've got a strong profile. Great GMAT, BB work, solid recommenders, and an impressive, growing business. With entrepreneurs, there are two main questions adcoms try to answer. First, does this person's story make sense and can we help him / her with it? Because you need to have a good story if you're telling me you're VC funded with a 50 person company and counting. The second, is this a high quality entrepreneur? And that second question is no different than asking if you're a high quality banker or consultant or social worker. They don't want a bunch of consultants and they don't want a bunch of entrepreneurs. Granted, they have fewer, on average, slots open for entrepreneurs, but they ARE there. So you're competing. That's ok. You're scrappy - you didn't get where you are without fighting the good fight, did you?

So, all in, don't take everything you read as the gospel. There are a lot of other factors to consider. All of the schools you've listed would seriously consider you!

Bhavik
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 13 May 2015, 11:53
Thank you for the replies. Would you say that by distinguishing myself as a successful entrepreneur, I have a very good shot? Is it that hard to convince adcoms that I am a quality candidate?

Are there any admitted entrepreneurs that have a story to tell? Or is it that rare to be admitted?
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 13 May 2015, 13:03
FinanceGuy15 wrote:
Thank you for the replies. Would you say that by distinguishing myself as a successful entrepreneur, I have a very good shot? Is it that hard to convince adcoms that I am a quality candidate?

Are there any admitted entrepreneurs that have a story to tell? Or is it that rare to be admitted?


I think it depends. I know of a couple of people that were "entrepreneurs" before business school and were able to get a few admits and so it's not impossible. Whether or not it distinguishes you is another question. It may bring about some skepticism about your profile...

If you look at it from the adcom's perspective, why would someone that's already a successful entrepreneur want to come to a business school? Why not continue running your business successfully as you have been up to this point? If this person goes to business school full-time, what happens to their company? Why would this person choose to invest/spend additional capital and time on an MBA versus putting that towards their business?

You may have somewhat of an advantage given there may not be to many successful entrepreneurs applying to business school, but there's a reason that many successful entrepreneurs don't go to business school...
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 13 May 2015, 13:05
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Hey there,

So yes and no - you want to boast on the D/L - through your resume, your recs, etc. You don't want to throw around revenue and funding round numbers. That will all happen. But what you want to focus on is the true advantage of entrepreneurship - the diversity of experience! So talk about what you learned, what you did, what gaps you identified, what you weren't so good at, etc.

And no, it's not rare for entrepreneurs to get in. We've got lots of entrepreneur clients who attended / are attending top 5, top 10 programs. You're not alone!

Bhavik
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 14 May 2015, 06:14
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I think you have a solid shot as YOU. I think every entrepreneur has a story to tell - oftentimes it's a very interesting story - but not all entrepreneurs are admitted. Sometimes candidates will lose their job and then try to start-up some half-assed company (or non-profit/social enterprise) 9 months prior to applying - then there are people whose parents basically fund an offshoot of the family business and suddenly their kid is an entrepreneur.....do you see where I'm headed with this?

From what you've written, that isn't you. But you can see that the entrepreneur applicant pool is full of extremes - a few really successful people, other moderately successful ones and then a block of people who are just using entrepreneurship as a resume filler while they bide their time.



Quote:
Thank you for the replies. Would you say that by distinguishing myself as a successful entrepreneur, I have a very good shot? Is it that hard to convince adcoms that I am a quality candidate?

Are there any admitted entrepreneurs that have a story to tell? Or is it that rare to be admitted?
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2015, 01:55
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2015, 02:12
I have just come to this section on my resume and am wondering what I should do.

The bulk of my work experience is in Chinese manufacturing (I am an American with second-language fluency in Mandarin). I have co-founded a start-up with a friend of mind that is mimicking the business model and operations of an employer of mine. The start-up capital was very minimal so there was not the need to find VC and we have been working on all the materials we need over the last 18 months to hit the market in the next few weeks.

It has taken promotional material creation, web development, negotiations, legal considerations (such as product warranty), hiring contractors, and a number of other considerations and experiences that come when starting a business, but we dont have results at this point. Ideal scenario is the business becomes profitable by the time I submit my applications in January.

Should I put this as a separate section on my resume?

Are B-schools going to expect a letter of recommendation from my co-founder?

Is it going to improve or decrease my chances of acceptance since I dont have results just yet?

Others have suggested I wait and apply next year but the company is really low-maintenance so I can continue while at business school and I already have the experience outside of the initial start-up via working for my old employer (that the whole model is based on), so an extra year will not necessarily provide a huge increase in experience or knowledge. I think the MBA will allow me to achieve greater things through my business in real-time without wasting the time needed to prepare everything after I graduate. I also believe there is a realistic shelf life on this enterprise of about 5 - 10 years, so I will get the most out of it by starting it now and learning how to expand and adapt to the changing market.

I have a 750 GMAT, 3.5 GPA with about 50 months full-time work experience and I am applying to GSB, Sloan, Kellogg, Booth and Cornell. I think (hope) Kellogg is realistic and Cornell is my backup, the rest I understand are a stretch.

Any insight would be appreciated.
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2015, 05:46
Hi,
Are you still employed full-time with your Chinese manufacturing employer or have you quit? If you're planning on applying R2 and you've been employed these last 18 months you'll need recommendations from your current boss + one other person. That person could be your co-founder but it would be better if it were someone with a little less biased opinion.
You could list the start-up in a separate entrepreneurial section or in the chronology of work experiences.
Your #s look good - my only question is whether you haven't borrowed a little too much from the business model of your current? former? employer. Given that it cost you so little to get it up and running the thought did come into my mind - I'm not sure how b-schools and future employers will view that.




Quote:
I have just come to this section on my resume and am wondering what I should do.

The bulk of my work experience is in Chinese manufacturing (I am an American with second-language fluency in Mandarin). I have co-founded a start-up with a friend of mind that is mimicking the business model and operations of an employer of mine. The start-up capital was very minimal so there was not the need to find VC and we have been working on all the materials we need over the last 18 months to hit the market in the next few weeks.

It has taken promotional material creation, web development, negotiations, legal considerations (such as product warranty), hiring contractors, and a number of other considerations and experiences that come when starting a business, but we dont have results at this point. Ideal scenario is the business becomes profitable by the time I submit my applications in January.

Should I put this as a separate section on my resume?

Are B-schools going to expect a letter of recommendation from my co-founder?

Is it going to improve or decrease my chances of acceptance since I dont have results just yet?

Others have suggested I wait and apply next year but the company is really low-maintenance so I can continue while at business school and I already have the experience outside of the initial start-up via working for my old employer (that the whole model is based on), so an extra year will not necessarily provide a huge increase in experience or knowledge. I think the MBA will allow me to achieve greater things through my business in real-time without wasting the time needed to prepare everything after I graduate. I also believe there is a realistic shelf life on this enterprise of about 5 - 10 years, so I will get the most out of it by starting it now and learning how to expand and adapt to the changing market.

I have a 750 GMAT, 3.5 GPA with about 50 months full-time work experience and I am applying to GSB, Sloan, Kellogg, Booth and Cornell. I think (hope) Kellogg is realistic and Cornell is my backup, the rest I understand are a stretch.

Any insight would be appreciated.
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2015, 06:15
fxMBAconsulting wrote:
Hi,
Are you still employed full-time with your Chinese manufacturing employer or have you quit? If you're planning on applying R2 and you've been employed these last 18 months you'll need recommendations from your current boss + one other person. That person could be your co-founder but it would be better if it were someone with a little less biased opinion.
You could list the start-up in a separate entrepreneurial section or in the chronology of work experiences.
Your #s look good - my only question is whether you haven't borrowed a little too much from the business model of your current? former? employer. Given that it cost you so little to get it up and running the thought did come into my mind - I'm not sure how b-schools and future employers will view that.


Yes, I am still employed full-time. My employer is a retailer that imports these products to the end-user in the US.

It is true that it is via this employer that I met this manufacturer and were they to discover my current plans and operations, they would not be happy, but I have taken steps and the due diligence to avoid any breaches of contract, I am not even in a non-compete, though I do concede that there is an ethical gray area.

My entire motivation for starting this enterprise stems from the fact that I can do it better. I am essentially already running the business for my employer, getting very little compensation for it, and all recommendations and input I provide are not listened to. If I can do it better, why not do it?

Reading that back it really doesnt sound that great and I am wondering if I should just not even bring it up.
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2015, 06:32
the more i think about it, i think the right idea is to not mention it. i assume it would play out like this:

"wait, so you worked for this guy for three years and are now using his connections to become his competitor...?"

"well, yeah. i learned a lot about how i didnt want to run my own business while operating the other guys business for three years in a role with less power to initiate the organizational and procedural changes that i would like to see in my own enterprise. i learned how to better cooperate with the manufacturer to ensure greater success for both parties and i took the initiative to responsibly operate my company to provide more professional service and a better quality product and user satisfaction."
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New post 22 Oct 2015, 07:36
If you're earning a low salary (extremely low) that will undermind your application, but you said you're working in China so maybe you just meant that the salary was low by US standards?

If it isn't intellectual property you're stealing then the conversation might not get as in-depth as you're imagining. Doing a side start-up can add something to how interesting an applicant is especially if their role or company is not really impressive/brand name (this may or may not be your case, I don't know). So I would suggest listing the entrepreneurial experience but you'll have to make the final decision.
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Oct 2015, 11:06
fxMBAconsulting wrote:
If you're earning a low salary (extremely low) that will undermind your application, but you said you're working in China so maybe you just meant that the salary was low by US standards?

If it isn't intellectual property you're stealing then the conversation might not get as in-depth as you're imagining. Doing a side start-up can add something to how interesting an applicant is especially if their role or company is not really impressive/brand name (this may or may not be your case, I don't know). So I would suggest listing the entrepreneurial experience but you'll have to make the final decision.


The salary is on par with staff at a US company (~40k), but yeah the purchasing power parity changes the actual worth of the salary living in china.

OK, I think I am going to include the experience, the only thing is I do not have any results to show for it at this point. I will make it less of a focus and more of a by the way.

Also, yes, no intellectual property theft. I just know all the costs and have a better relationship with the manufacturer than he does at this point so I know I could easily supplement my income with a minimal amount of effort. I am not looking to get on the fortune 500, just build a little capital.

Thanks for your input!
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New post 23 Oct 2015, 08:21
Sounds good - the adcom will take ave salary in China into consideration so no worries there. Good luck with your app!
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New post 21 Jun 2018, 12:30
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Re: Are top MBA adcoms hostile towards entrepreneurs?   [#permalink] 21 Jun 2018, 12:30
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