You don’t need an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur, but it doesn’t hurt.
Brian Tjokroadiguno ran a number of businesses before deciding to pursue a full-time MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). An avid fan of celebrity businessman Robert Kiyosaki, his goal has always been financial freedom.
Since completing the 14-month MBA program—ranked first in Asia for eight consecutive years by the Economist—he’s set up his own catering business in his native Indonesia.
What’s changed? Through the HKU MBA’s entrepreneurship focus, Brian says, he became a better-rounded entrepreneur, able to respond to feedback and develop his business directly in response to what the market needs.
Much of this comes down to the HKU MBA’s five-month Business Lab elective, which takes students through every stage of the startup process, from idea conception to launch. During the Business Lab, MBA students are taken through a series of case studies and apply their learnings to develop real business ideas in a risk-free environment.
At the Business Lab’s conclusion, students present their business plans to a panel of industry experts and venture capitalists, who can help take their startup ideas to the next level.
BusinessBecause caught up with Brian to find out more.
How has the HKU MBA helped you develop as an entrepreneur?
The Business Lab was really fun from beginning to end. The whole course is like a template on starting your business from scratch.
A common problem for an entrepreneur is not sharing an idea, and keeping it to themselves, for fear it might get stolen. But, as entrepreneurs, we’re not always right. What we think customers want, might not always be the case.
During the HKU MBA, I learned not to work alone. I learned that implementing feedback from colleagues, as well as potential customers, is the most important thing.
No one knows whether a business will become successful or not. But, with more knowledge of the field, the better we are at capitalizing on the market and knowing what our market needs.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKU?
It was the ranking from The Economist that first caught my interest. After that, I did some research and found that I could learn and have fun while broadening my understanding of the business world.
What was your favorite class on the HKU MBA?
Opportunity Discovery and Entrepreneurial Development by Dr. Yanfeng Zheng—Dr. Z!
The course matched my areas of interest, but Dr. Z’s teaching style stood out the most. Every session was comprised of a full class discussion—a full knowledge-sharing session based around a particular case or topic. For me, that’s how an MBA class should be.
What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?
If you’re taking a leap of faith and looking to do something you’ve never done before—like starting your own business or entering a new industry—then an MBA is very good for you.
During an MBA, you’ll get all the knowledge you might need as well as advice from people who’ve actually done what you want to do—they could be classmates, mentors, or professors. You might even find your business partner during an MBA program—it happens a lot.
Ultimately, an MBA is ideal if you’re planning to take the next step in your career, since every program is backed up with a potent career service that will help you with that.