How B-schools can meet needs of entrepreneurs

Today’s entrepreneurs need a program that is focused on their specific startup—one where their cofounders are also welcomed.
By: and | October 14, 2019

Taylor Randall is the dean of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

In theory, everyone can be an entrepreneur, but in practice, not everyone knows how to launch a business. In fact, many entrepreneurs find they don’t have the time or appropriate resources to launch and scale a business. Does one need a degree to become a successful entrepreneur? Maybe or maybe not.

When we began talking with business leaders and successful entrepreneurs about reimagining our curriculum to help entrepreneurs thrive, we found there was a gap in programming for entrepreneurs. From traditional business degree programs to business incubators, each was lacking something, and we felt strongly that colleges and universities should be a viable solution for entrepreneurs.

The times are a-changing

The needs of today’s entrepreneurs have changed. They need a program that is focused on their specific startup—one where their cofounders are also welcomed. They need to be taught by leading scholars and business coaches. They need a program that can be customized to meet their own business goals and needs. They also need a program that is paid for by scholarships so that they can dedicate all of their resources directly to their businesses, and won’t go broke paying for their education.

After having further conversations with members of the business community and our faculty, we created a new degree offering that we call the Master of Business Creation (MBC) degree. A combination of a graduate business degree program—the skills and know-how to help a business succeed—and a business accelerator, the MBC enables entrepreneurs to launch or scale their startups.

‘Doers wanted’

How is this different? Not simply an MBA for entrepreneurs, the MBC enables people to launch a new business through applied curriculum rather than teaching them how to manage an existing one. In the MBC program, the founder’s startup is the case study, which allows them to apply what they are learning immediately to grow their company. MBC combines the best qualities of an accelerator into one graduate degree program. A few of these qualities include programming that is tailored to each founder’s own startup, in-depth mentoring and customized resources. Unlike an accelerator, though, founders retain complete ownership of their businesses and reap the benefits from their efforts.

MBC students are full-time entrepreneurs who are dedicated to their startup. At the Eccles School, our tagline is “Doers Wanted.” We want everyone to study business and do business at the same time. The MBC program is the perfect example of this. Everyone in the program is expected to be “doing” from day one.

Business schools have the luxury of helping students ignite their passions. And while there are tried and true business concepts that help every entrepreneur, we have to be in the personalized education business. In today’s highly competitive academic environment, it is not good enough to simply offer theories, we need to help our students solve business challenges that relate to their unique businesses.

Gone are the days where we tell students how to swim and then throw them into the water. If business schools want to stay relevant, we need to be in the water with our students helping them succeed rather than worrying about scalability.

Taylor Randall has been the dean of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah since 2009.