Why mba? why kellogg school of Management
startup

Next 2 Years at Kellogg School of Management

I am excited to share an update 🙂 I have received an admit from 2-year MBA program at Kellogg School of Mangement (yay!).

Kellogg was always my top choice. However, for most parts, you don’t choose an MBA school. MBA school chooses you 🙂

Multiple times after my admit I have to explain to people why a startup enthusiast like me is going for an MBA program that costs USD 200K. Just yesterday, on Reddit, someone said it’s ridiculous to spend such a huge amount on education and blow away your savings. That’s why instead of just sharing the news, I will also try to explain why.

My MBA Story

why mba?

I must admit that it wasn’t an obvious decision.

While right after my graduation from IIT Delhi, I was sold to the idea of going to Bschool in the US, it was never a priority. When I was pursuing CFA and working in management consulting, I started GMAT prep, but I gave up midway in order to venture into a startup.

In beginning, I wanted to learn everything about building a successful startup. Over the course of next one year, I figured the role I could enjoy – product management focussed on increasing adoption of the app.

However, after a steep learning curve, my growth sort of plateaued. I wasn’t solving problems at a scale I would have wanted to. With our product’s focus on India market and that too on the non-tech features, I wasn’t sure that I am at the right place.

To make the matter worse, I wasn’t sure what I want to do next. It couldn’t be a startup, as I didn’t have a mind-blowing startup idea that could make me take the plunge again. Although I was interested in working in global tech firms in product growth team, which required me to have MBA, I wasn’t sure. Even going back to consulting wasn’t a bad idea either. All in all, I was confused as hell.

I wasn’t sure whether to start MBA prep without goal clarity. At that time, fortunately, I spoke one of my senior who works at Amazon as a product manager. As I was already a bit sure of the value-add through MBA, his words assured me that my uncertainty willn’t be a hurdle:

Around 40-50% of my batchmates were career-switcher, and in most cases, they didn’t come to MBA with a fixed plan. It’s usual to introspect and challenge your status quo during MBA.

And, rightly so, writing essays and analyzing my story immensely helped me in figuring what I want from life.

After speaking to several alumni and discussing the possibilities, I realized what I want to pursue — FinTech. I once even tried a startup in FinTech and failed. As a management consultant with extensive experience in financial services and growth strategist at a tech startup, it makes so much sense.

Does mba help in entrepreneruship?

In the long term, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I wasn’t sure whether MBA would help in my startup journey. However, as I had no immediate plan to follow entrepreneurship, it made sense to focus on learning, leadership development, and networking.

What further sold the deal was the fact that MBAs aren’t behind in building successful startups.

Not convinced yet? Here are a few stats from Next View Ventures Blog based on TechCrunch Unicorn Leaderboard:

  • 38 unicorns, or 1 in 4 (24%), have at least one MBA founder
  • 63 MBA founders are represented among the 157 unicorns
  • MBA unicorns are valued at $65 billion (of the total $533 billion unicorn valuations) and have raised $15 billion in funding (of the total $82 billion unicorn funding)

Alex Taussig, a partner at Lightspeed, wrote a great blog on the myth that MBAs haven’t founded big startups.

 I respectfully disagree that “so few really big startups [are] founded by MBAs.” It’s a myth that we can put to bed right now…Instead of disqualifying entrepreneurs by their choice of a career path, we should affirm that there is no “one path” to building a company. 

Even in the Indian context, I can give examples of successful founders from all sorts of background:

  • MBA Founders:

Naveen Tiwari, an alumnus of Havard Business School, is CEO of Unicorn startup InMobi. InMobi is one of the few India startups that plays a role at a global scale and has managed to create a pretty employee friendly culture.

Albinder Dhindsa, an alumnus of Columbia Business School, is a co-founder of Grofers. This company has raised more than USD 200 million so far.

  • Non-MBA Founders:

There are a plenty of examples right from Sachin Bansal, who cofounded Flipkart to Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who founded Paytm.

Anum Hussain, an MIT Sloan MBA graduate, wrote a great piece presenting examples of successful entrepreneurs who have a widely different level of academic educations.

I could vouch for her statement word for word when she says:

“Yes, it’s possible to succeed without MBA. And with it. But be sure you’re making that decision based on your own experiences and what makes the most sense for you. Getting an MBA for the sake of getting an MBA isn’t valuable. Starting a business for the sake of starting a business isn’t either.”

Once I decided to pursue MBA, the real battle started. For me, GMAT was a big struggle. It took me three attempts, 2 months of the mediation session, and personal tutoring to score 750, which is a decent score. I wrote about my GMAT struggle here.

Why MBA from Kellogg School of Management?

Kellogg was always my dream school. Here is an article that I wrote on the day I received my admit news.

While I want to talk about resources, what really attracted me was the prestige of the school and my fit with values of Kellogg.

The prestige of Kellogg

Kellogg is certainly the best marketing school in the world and ranks 4th in Forbes ranking of MBA colleges. It’s part of elite M7 schools – Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, and MIT Sloan.

Fit with Values of Kellogg

In my startup journey, I have realised the immense value of two key traits:

  • Growth mindset to learn from failures: In order to chase growth, we tried lots of new ideas and did a lot of experiments, and while most of these experiments fail, they helped in refining our experiments and propelling growth.
  • Courage to follow unconventional approach: A creative and fearless approach has always helped us at both Fitos and Sqrrl to breakout out from peers and chase growth.

Interestingly, these two traits are the foundation stones of Kellogg’s unique leadership approach to developing brave leaders.

 

Resources and Opportunities at Kellogg

While prestige and fit with values were the key attraction point for me, the plethora of opportunities at Kellogg campus sold the deal for me.

  • Resources for tech professionals:

I spoke to many people who were pursuing tech at Kellogg. Two career tracks – Marketing Major and Growth and Scaling Pathway were a great fit with my career goals.

Further, I was particularly excited about experiential learning courses such as Analytics Consulting Lab and Growth Strategy Practicum, where I could apply the classroom concepts in the real world and learn from the challenges.

Moreover, the opportunity of working in 50+ teams in classes and clubs was also critical for me. Working with a diverse set of peers would ideally prepare me to work in a global product team.

  • FinTech opportunities at the campus:

Kellogg offers fintech courses such as Innovation in Financial Services Market and has a vibrant Fintech Club. Further, San Fransico Immersion Quarter at Kellogg is an amazing opportunity to network with and learn from FinTech startups. Most importantly, I could also be involved with FinTech startups at the campus.

That’s it for now…

So, the next 2 years of my life will be dedicated to learning and growing with a bunch of driven people in Greater Chicago 🙂 Obviously, I will keep sharing my learning with you guys.

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