That’s exactly what drove serial entrepreneur Nore Eckerberg to embark on a part-time Executive MBA at Warwick Business School's London base at The Shard. The program instilled in him the confidence and business acumen he needed to launch a successful new fintech venture.
Here are three ways an Executive MBA can help you become a better entrepreneur.
1. You’ll develop concrete business plans
If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have multiple business ideas. Yet putting these ideas into action can be tricky.
Nore started his entrepreneurial career at a young age: at 14 he was trading in newspapers, and by 16 he'd started his first company, offering IT solutions and installations.
He chose the Warwick Executive MBA as he wanted to formalize the experience and knowledge he’d gained from investing in, advising, and leading multiple ventures over the years.
“As an entrepreneur, you feel exposed because if your business fails, where do you go?” asks Nore. He believed that gaining a formal education would provide him with something to fall back on and would counteract some of the risk associated with launching a venture.
On the Warwick Executive MBA, Nore chose the entrepreneurship track, which provides a deep dive into topics like entrepreneurial finance, new venture creation, and reflective leadership, which can inform the development of your business ideas. Lecturers who have founded successful startups teach many of the courses.
Nore chose to use a startup he had worked on as the case study for courses outside of the entrepreneurship track, such as in accounting and leadership, which involved making strategic decisions based upon the organization. “I could tailor all my courses to focus on startups. This essentially made the whole EMBA into an entrepreneurship program,” he says.
The Executive MBA facilitates group work to help students put their entrepreneurial knowledge into practice, which can involve creatively solving a business problem under time constraints and then delivering a report and presentation on the given topic.
“That's exactly how a startup works—a very small team has to solve a problem right away,” explains Nore.
2. You can receive expert guidance to inform your venture
An Executive MBA can also help you get advice from someone with different experience, who can point out opportunities in areas you might not have considered.
On the Warwick Executive MBA, Nore took advantage of this guidance by participating in an entrepreneurship clinic, which involved him pitching his business idea to an experienced panel of entrepreneurship professors, venture capitalists, and founders of successful startups.
“They gave a lot of good critique and feedback. I stayed in touch with them afterwards and I'm still exchanging emails even a year later,” he says.
The tailored guidance Nore received from the clinic, and the support he received during WBS' CareersPlus executive career coaching sessions, has paid dividends in his entrepreneurial pursuits, he believes.
The program inspired him to co-found his latest fintech venture Dfns, which offers a highly secure and easily integrated infrastructure that helps banks and institutions handle a new wave of digital assets. Techstars and ABN Amro even chose the innovative venture as one of their top 10 future of fintech startups.
Dfns, a startup co-founded by Warwick Executive MBA grad Nore, will be expanding from a team of 10 to 30 people ©Nore Eckerberg
3. You’ll develop your negotiation skills
Fundraising is another crucial component of life as an entrepreneur, and negotiation skills are key when engaging in conversations with stakeholders.
As well as learning about negotiation in multiple courses on the Warwick Executive MBA, the CareersPlus team provides optional skills workshops on topics like negotiation.
For Nore, however, it was the speaker events that taught him some valuable lessons about negotiation and provided an insight into how venture capitalism works.
“The venture capitalists mentioned some trick questions VCs ask that entrepreneurs are unprepared for, such as how entrepreneurs should not disclose what they're looking for as pre-money valuation, rather the VC should give them an offer,” he notes.
This insight and the negotiation skills he picked up on the EMBA have helped Nore when fundraising for his venture. Dfns has received a wealth of interest from investors and has already raised about $1.1 million in funding, with hopes to raise another $6 million more in the next month.
“We are more than confident that we will fill this seed round,” he says, adding that he feels ready to face the challenges associated with launching a rapidly growing fintech venture, thanks to his Warwick Executive MBA.
“I'm really pleased that I completed an EMBA because now I have formal business knowledge to inform the scale-up of the business,” he concludes.