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An Idea Incubation Network to promote Entrepreneurship during & after a MBA

A GMAC Met Fund Innovation Challenge participant shares his idea that made it to the final 100 entries of the competition

By  Kirti Dhingra

Sun Feb 20 2011

BusinessBecause
In the month of October, 2010 after a notification regarding the GMAC MET Fund Ideas to innovation challenge on BusinessBecause (see below) 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.

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The final idea that I narrowed down was based on the following:

  1. 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 (see here for an example)
  2. 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
  3. 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: “following” the user if one only wishes to stay updated of the progress of the idea, “partnering” the user and becoming a part of the idea if one strongly subscribes to it and wishes to take it forward, “assisting” the user by consenting to being a part of market research, “mentoring” the user if one happens to be an expert in that area etc.

A quick glance through the MBA Entrepreneurs section on BusinessBecause is enough to justify the relevancy of my idea in today's world. RaisinRed by Shari Carlson, an IE MBA, Whinnot by Kyle Hawke, a current Darden MBA are examples of entrepreneurial ventures started during or post an MBA where the schools played a supporting role in the effort.

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 MoveGuides, although going by the tweets below it surely seems that it has been useful (Source: MoveGuides Twitter)

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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.

(The Author is an MBA from AGSM,UNSW,Sydney and Kellogg School Of Management, USA. He is also the Founder and Editor of DelhiPlanet Media You can follow him on Twitter @kirtidhingra)

Updates after Publishing this Article

       -  BusinessBecause made a new friend on Twitter. eMBA Alumni Project is a group of EMBA alumni from Chapman, UCLA, USC, UCI and Pepperdine are forming a non-profit alliance for the benefit of current/future EMBAs.

     -   Move Guides founder Brynne Herbert responds to this idea on DelhiPlanet sharing first hand experience of her MBA Entrepreneurship journey. Click here for the permalink.

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