The Importance of Promoting Entrepreneurship in MBA Programs
Discover how the ESADE MBA program’s experiential approach to entrepreneurship takes students well beyond the classroom.
MBA students have great potential to impact society, thanks to their talent and entrepreneurship. Although most MBA graduates do not become entrepreneurs, over the past few years a growing number of them have started their own businesses. Moreover, recent data show that MBA graduates could be instrumental in helping start-ups perform well. According to Ivan Bofarull, author of the MBA City Monitor report, around 10 percent of MBA students from Barcelona’s main business schools go on to become entrepreneurs. And the Financial Times has found that more than 80 percent of companies started by graduates of top MBA programs are still operating three years later.
Entrepreneurship has been a central topic in the ESADE MBA for many years, as it is a key part of our school’s DNA. It is a core first-year subject and is complemented by many second-year electives. The electives explore functions such as marketing for entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial finance, and sales. These subjects are hands-on and very practical: in many cases, students help existing ventures develop a marketing plan or raise additional funds.
We offer subjects on specific topics such as social ventures, biotech and cleantech, and we are particularly interested in high-growth ventures and the digital world. We also have numerous social entrepreneurs in our midst: teams of ESADE students have made it to the final round of the worldwide Hult Prize for the past three years in a row. And we like to get out of our classrooms in Barcelona to visit other European entrepreneurial hubs, such as London and Berlin. These visits give students a chance to learn from other founders and venture capitalists, to rethink their own ideas, and in some cases to find a job at a high-growth start-up.
Our entrepreneurship training focuses primarily on how students learn to become entrepreneurs. They need to have knowledge and frameworks, but that alone is not enough. In contrast to traditional business planning, we concentrate on doing, acting, identifying an opportunity, validating it, and finding out who will be paying for the product or service – but we do not overlook the importance of attracting investors.
ESADE’s MBA students get help starting up their companies while they are still enrolled in our programme. We pair students with experienced entrepreneurs who serve as mentors and coaches. We provide physical space at EGarage and ESpace. We add knowledge, when necessary, through specific workshops. And through our “Ask the Expert” program, we provide access to advice on legal, marketing, administrative and investment-related matters. Finally, for those ready to raise funds, we have ESADE BAN, one of Europe’s most active business angels networks, with more than 150 investors.
For us, entrepreneurship is about more than taking a class. It’s about getting involved, having fun, and living the entrepreneurial adventure!
About the Author
Luisa Alemany is professor of Entrepreneurial Finance and director of the ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute.