How your pre-MBA entrepreneurship experience in India can help

Several Indian MBA applicants who work with us have dabbled in entrepreneurship in some form or another. Some do it on a full-time basis either because of inheritance (family business background) or because they were first generation entrepreneurs who decided to launch their own start-ups.

Interestingly though many have engineering degrees and work in software roles in the information technology industry, several of these start-ups are not in the technology space.

We’ve seen some wonderful variety of start-ups and entrepreneurial start-ups in fields covering education, hospitality, consulting, entertainment, social enterprise and yes, technology as well.

If you have been dabbling in part-time or full-time entrepreneurial pursuits, here are some ways in which you can position it in your MBA application.

5 Ways to use your entrepreneurship experience in MBA admissions

1. Differentiation in the Indian MBA applicant pool

If you have a day job in industries that are highly competitive (does ‘Indian Male IT Engineer’ ring a bell?), there’s a huge pressure to differentiate yourself from the herd of other applicants who might sound exactly the same when you consider their resumes.

Wearing multiple hats is a great way to show the Admissions committee (Adcom) that you have something interesting to talk about apart from your run-of-the-mill (from an adcom perspective) software job.

2. Entrepreneurship Skills

Unlike corporate jobs where the roles and responsibilities tend to be better defined and adhered to, an entrepreneur has to be good not only with the primary technical skills but also a range of non-technical aspects.

Give the Adcoms a unidimensional profile and a rich multi-dimensional application. Which one do you think gets special attention?

3. Entrepreneurial Perspective

Startups expect their founders to know about the product (or service), where it fits into the broader economy, who will buy it and why, what problem is it solving, what competitors have been offering, what stops them from replicating the entrepreneur’s USP (unique selling proposition)?

Each of these questions requires a different perspective. It is unusual for those who’ve only worked in a rigid corporate environment to bring these perspectives to the table.

4. The Entrepreneur’s Aptitude

Unlike her other MBA classmates, an entrepreneur has already demonstrated her aptitude to take MBA related topics like marketing, operations, strategy, finance and experiment with them in a real world setting…albeit on a small scale.

So Adcoms don’t need to try too hard to see if the MBA applicant has the potential to do well across multiple areas.

5. Adaptibility in a Startup

Adapting within a startup environment is far more difficult than settling into a stable corporate job. In a big multinational, all the systems and processes are already in place. All you need to do is walk in find your little space in the big empire and focus only on what you were supposed to do.

Enterpreneurship allows very little of that stability. There’s very little that can be taken for granted. When startups and its employees can’t adapt, it can spell doom. This is the primary reason why most entrepreneurs give up.

Alright, so now you have the 5 basic areas where you can make a solid impact. Think about each of these independently and in conjunction…and what do you get?

The heart and soul of MBA essays – Lots of interesting stories!

That can also create a different set of issues and questions that you have to be careful to address in your essays. The challenge is to be careful in terms of what stories you choose and how do you weave them all into the bigger story that you are trying to tell the admission officer.

Have you tried your hand at entrepreneurship? What was it about and what did you learn from it?


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MBA Crystal Ball provides professional Admissions Consulting services. Hire us to improve your chances of getting into the top international universities. Email: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

11 Comments

  1. anthony says:

    Dr. John Yang, from Beijing University had to say: “In my opinion, entrepreneurship is a matter of the heart, and education is a matter of the brain. It is difficult to teach a heart.”So I think that its always good to learn business skills and doing your MBA from good B-School helps to form a strong base of all these skills in a person and thus truly making us truly capable of being called as “Masters of Business Administration”

  2. suvodip says:

    Hi,I am Suvodip,2nd year IT and aiming to ISB YLP 2016. I had a query… what type of internship should I choose to to do after my 2nd year,WHERE I have 2 option..1stly should I go and work with an MNc like CTS or TCS or EYs etc where I will be given a desk and I have write codes and work on their project;
    or 2ndly with a startup of IIT Kgp by under one of the youngest Entrepreneur Vikram Kumar(former founder and CEO of DATA Resolve ,regarded as one of IIT’s gamechangers), who is out for his 2nd venture after being very successful in 1st venture. While the 1st one will have a big brand connected to it though my operation will be minimal ; and in the 2nd one,it is a Media service where I will be doing its technical operations along with some public management and media interactions,though the company will be new and don’t have much brand value.
    My father is telling me to go for the MNC I am feeling 2nd option to be more dynamic and challenging. I want MBA Crystal ball to suggest me and give your opinion

    • Sameer Kamat says:

      Suvodip,

      If you are doing all this just to impress Adcoms, whatever you choose and do over the next few years would look superficial.

      With due respect to the specific company you have in mind, startups carry a huge amount of risk. Most folks fascinated by startup jobs have only read and heard about the success stories. A lot gets brushed under the carpet.

      If you choose to go down that route, read this post: 8 things to watch out for in Startup jobs.

  3. George Jacob says:

    Hi there Sameer,

    First of all I would want to appreciate all of your articles and your writing style. The way that you have put forth the details and the logic presented is amazing. This is of tremendous value.
    If you could solve my query,

    I have launched my own startup -full time experience of 2 years till now(would be 3 by next year). Have a patent pending and reputed advisors on board. I’m confused whether to take up Masters in Management from the European schools or go for an MBA in US schools where less work experience is required(SUNY Univ of Buffalo for instance) Do I stand a chance in applying to the major 30 B schools in the US or Europe for MBA ?
    Or should I apply for Bschools in India such as ISB and SPJAIN (PG IMC) ?
    My Aim is to have a good Management degree enough to get a decent management position abroad post my studies.

    Regards,
    George Jacob
    New Delhi

  4. Sameer Kamat says:

    If what you’ve achieved in your startup is equal to or better than what anyone else with the same amount of experience in the corporate world, then an MBA in USA is surely an option, George.

  5. Rolph Vaz says:

    Hello Mr. Kamat. Let me just start by saying that the new website layout looks very appealing.

    I would appreciate it if you could find the time to help me in this conundrum.
    I am 21 years old and a 4th year engineering student. I am also an entrepreneur and have started 2 successful businesses that are local to Pune.(1 year experience) I have recently been offered a programming job. What they’re offering is much less than what I earn from my 2 businesses. I have a passion for entrepreneurship and I have some big ideas lined up for the future.
    I would like to go to one of the best business schools in the U.S. in 3-4 years and work in a management position post-studies. If I decline the programming job now, will less ‘job’ experience in a company, affect my admission to a school like Stanford or Columbia ? Will it affect my career post-MBA ? I thank you for your valuable time.

  6. Sameer Kamat says:

    There are too many folks with programming backgrounds applying to bschools.

    If you are confident that you can scale up one (or both) of your ventures over the next 3-4 years and make it an impactful success story, that would be a better option to choose.

  7. Sudha says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I’m Sudha. I have a question. I have worked for 2.5 years in IT as programmer with an MNC. After that, for about 2 years till now, I’m working full time in developing a start-up company, with my father’s help though . Planning for an MBA that will help me to grow my start-up. I’m aiming for ISB PGP 2016. What should my application essays address so that I will stand a maximum chance to get an admit. I wanted to continue my entrepreneurship post-mba.

  8. Vikash says:

    Hi Sameer ,
    I am Vikash and I have Btech and Masters degree (software engineering) in my kitty .I have worked for a top MNC as as IT consultant for 3.5 years.I am the founder of a social enterprise making positive changes in the life of poor marginalized tribal women in one of the most remote location of India by providing them diversified livelihood opportunities and nurturing the entrepreneurship among these women.Our org is preserving rich indigeneous culture of India by promoting tribal handcraft products , language , folk dance in Indian cities.Our org success story has been featured in various magazines and print media in India and abroad.I have been working in this social business for last 2.5 years.I am also the co founder of an online media that promotes positive journalism and provokes debates that matter.I want to pursue MBA in social entrepreneurship.I would greatly appreciate if you could provide your valuable feedbacks and shade light on my chances of getting into top schools in US

  9. Vibhor Bhardwaj says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I am Vibhor,I have completed my BBA from Amity University .
    For the last 1 year I have been working in a start up.
    plus also preparing for Gmat and Cat examination.

    Can you please tell me that,will my start up experience be counted in foreign countries as a valuable work experience.

  10. Yashodhara Kolur says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I am Yashodhara Kolur and have just graduated as a Chemical Engineer and currently i have joined my dad’s hospital as an intern. I am looking into all the administrative aspects of the hospital and i am willing to work here for another 6-12 months and later work somewhere else in a more corporate atmosphere before i pursure my MBA in Entreneurship after 2 years in a good Bschool. Then i plan to join my Dad in the healthcare industry and set up my own venture after a few years. I need some advice on if i am doing the right thing by working here.

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