In the month of October, 2010 after a notification regarding the GMAC MET Fund Ideas to innovation challenge on BusinessBecause caught my attention, I started think about whether it would be a good idea to participate. Despite the difficult odds of winning the competition I decided to give it a go since I had only recently completed my MBA and felt that I would be able to come up with some good ideas.
The final idea that I narrowed down was based on the following:
- Good Ideas are available in plenty during the MBA given the make up of the cohort which comprises of a diverse set of high achievers from different backgrounds. An idea can also be pursued as part of a course thus allowing it to be verified and refined with no risks attached
- Business School is an excellent platform to create and promote entrepreneurship but most schools lack the infrastructure to support and nurture good ideas. Weighed down by the cost of business school and the lack of support many budding entrepreneurs and talented individuals let go of their dream
- For students who graduated in 2009 and 2010 finding a good job was a highly difficult task. Recessions will continue to happen in future, thus GMAC as a non-profit organization with the support of hundreds of top business schools should create a platform that promotes entrepreneurship allowing students to do well even in tough times
Based on the above arguments, my proposal to GMAC was to create an online solution that brings together current and former students from all the schools that GMAC has relations with and provides them a platform to share and discuss ideas that can lead to new businesses once they complete school. Ideally suited for budding entrepreneurs such an opt-in network would lead to greater global connections across the MBA community. Thus, a student in an American Business School may have an idea that can greatly enrich the lives of the rural population in India. He would then be able to use the network to find Indian students and other people who would be willing to assist him in the project which may go on to develop as a new business.
Apart from promoting entrepreneurship such an initiative will also promote a more closely knit global MBA community and would reduce the fascination with school rankings which often results in unrealistic career expectations for prospective students as well and employers. After all if while studying in a No.25 ranked Business school one can work with students from Harvard, Stanford etc then the decision to join a B-school would be based more on real factors rather than media created rankings.
To submit the application I had to answer one final question titled, “How do you see your Idea being implemented?“. Given that this is the decade of Social Networks my idea was to create something similar. The idea incubator would present a simple to use interface which shall combine the benefits of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google Docs, thereby allowing its users to post ideas, gain feedback on those ideas, perform research, gain customer insight and also find experts in the field to which the idea belongs.
To provide an example, a member of this new platform may post a status message containing the gist of the idea and may attach a link containing greater detail about the business proposition. This status message will then be seen on the network and will allow other users to perform a host of actions. These actions will include: â€œfollowingâ€ the user if one only wishes to stay updated of the progress of the idea, â€œpartneringâ€ the user and becoming a part of the idea if one strongly subscribes to it and wishes to take it forward, â€œassistingâ€ the user by consenting to being a part of market research, â€œmentoringâ€ the user if one happens to be an expert in that area etc.
There are plenty of examples that exist where ambitious MBA Entrepreneurs have acted upon their convictions, used the skills they learnt at school and then launched their own business. Simple problems such as an effective but low cost courier service, the ability to relocate globally without hassles are ideas that can come to MBA students. The former actually exists in the shape of delivery auction site Anyvan.com, a man and van hire social network that allows common people to earn money by acting as couriers. The service also allows professional delivery vendors to bid on work items on the site thus allowing the end consumer to get the best possible price for their delivery needs.
Most recently Brynne Herbert a full time MBA student at London Business School started her own venture called Move Guides which makes it easier for global citizens to relocate and settle in a new city (read more here). It’ll be interesting to hear her personal thoughts on how being in LBS has been helpful for her to launch her own venture that addresses a common problem faced by many individuals who relocate to new countries.
— MOVE Guides (@moveguides) January 28, 2011
As one would expect top business schools promote entrepreneurship amongst their students given their position but an Idea Incubator Network would allow students in many other business schools to pursue their ideas as well.
My idea qualified for the semi-finals of the competition beating 500 other entries but was unable to make it to the final 30. Would be great to hear your thoughts on this as GMAC certainly didn’t feel that it was important to give feedback.
Move Guides founder Brynne Herbert responds to this post on DelhiPlanet, The Tribulations and Elations of MBA Entrepreneurship.