So the question is, does an MBA help in tech entrepreneurship? Let’s consider the following three broad categories where any wannabe entrepreneur with some industry experience would fit in.
- Entrepreneur is an Engineer and an MBA
- Entrepreneur is an Engineer alone
- Entrepreneur is none of the above – drop outs/oblique entrepreneurs
Who has the higher professional & emotional conviction to doing business? Do chime your views in comments below!
Case 1: The first case is that of a guy who has a degree in Business Administration and Technology both. Now is such an individual armed with all the ingredients of becoming a successful businessman? Well the answer is no, as one needs to understand the reasons why such an individual might not become a successful entrepreneur at all.
Manager’s Ego: Individuals who have spent few years on coding and then completed an MBA are unlikely to become successful entrepreneurs. Reason is simply confusion. One comes across a lot of individuals who took to MBA to get rid of “coding-shit” and that’s exactly an ego – or frustration – that would delineate a businessman from a serviceman. There are plenty of wannabe post-MBA entrepreneurs who say “I take care of the business, and have an access to a network of developers who do the tech for me. Outsourcing, you see”. Entrepreneurship is not about creamy work only.
Course Imperfections: There are individuals who took up an MBA only to boost their careers or salary. And entrepreneurship was only one of the subjects there while everything else (99% of remaining course-work) centered around the norm, the industry, standard practices and about the established school of thought. And did ever the selection process of regular MBA’s measure the risk-taking potential of an individual? And if it did what was the probability of that 1% stimulation in the course-work of an MBA to result out 99% effort-oriented psychology for an enterprising individual?
Industry Connections: Quite often, from entrepreneurial groups I hear a point-of-view that it is the worth of connections with VC’s, Angels and the accomplished class of people that justifies the investment in an MBA. Really? But how does it stop a desperate individual in category – 3 (i.e. without MBA or Tech degree) to reach you and not access your network? Or that of category – 2 group (engineers only) from hiring you for their own startup and thus driving you away from your own higher tree of entrepreneurship? Think :-)
Sounds like an instance of liquid-oxygen, isn’t it?
Case – 2: For the tech guys immaturity is the single most big reason for a failure. Despite exposure in Industry at working a level, there is every chance that the engineer might fail to foresee the industry trends and benchmark oneself for commercial stuff like sales, procurements, partnerships etc. Desperation to go out and strike deals might also be lacking and there will be a constant pressure of sticking to pure tech work so that one could land a secure job anytime soon.
Self-esteem: Protecting against a constant nag from society (peers, friends & family) of not-being an MBA, an engineer entrepreneur might also face an additional challenge to protect oneself against a competing MBA guys out there. The only upper hand a techie might have is of lowering the pre-launch & maintenance costs as compared to that of an MBA. But imagine how a VC asking about “no- MBA” would send jitters down the spine of an engineer while seeking an investment? Again a liquid-oxygen of MBA or none at all.
Lazy bums: Engineers are lazy. Whatever engineers create is just another way of adding more laziness to life. While entrepreneurship calls for an exact opposite trait. While an engineer might start off his/her project with great enthusiasm but the routine pressures might flatten his tyre out before even reaching the next re-filling station. Mostly engineers are attracted to development work that is close to algorithms, actual coding work and do not care about usability and business scenario from customer point of view. The vision is thus inward and often lowers the probability of making him a successful entrepreneur.
Case 3: Dropping out of college on the other hand is a measure of risk-taking potential of an individual. While such an individual will definitely have a steep, rather almost over-throwing, climb against crumbling self-esteem but the effort might just add to his/her probability of succeeding in entrepreneurship. And pay off sooner or later.
Desperation & conviction might too drag his skills to a level of business-class competency. He will believe in Jugaar technology more than an MBA would do. He will know the worth of techies and believe in their critical skills. Business will be the only thing on his mind, and will therefore go out and meet MBA’s, techies, investors and customers with only more business in mind. So much for access to networking. And for sure, such an individual will not be lazy.
One might argue that hi-tech or hi-class businesses would more be tilted towards hi-class engineers/Phds or MBA’s but does anyone of us believe in the claim? If yes, then read about Elon Musk or decide whether a non-Tech-non-MBA entrepreneur can hire you for his hi-tech or hi-class business or not.