On May 27, 2014, Ziv Navoth (founder of http://www.paragraph.me) talked about his experiences as an entrepreneur. Being that it was entrepreneurship week in CEU’s MBA NYC module, this made sense. However, it was a bit surprising to hear from Ziv that he does not think a traditional MBA program is worth the opportunity cost even though he is an MBA himself. His biggest growth as a person and entrepreneur seemed to have come from being in New York where the networking power of one degree of separation allows you to meet the people necessary growing ones business. The CEU NYC Module gives us a small taste of this networking power if any of us return to build our careers or businesses. But I was left with some challenges to bring back to Budapest: (1) How do we build this 1 degree of separation in Budapest (i.e. network effect linking entrepreneurs to resourceful and influential members of the business community); (2) How can we improve the CEU MBA to be more relevant today?
I also enjoyed the practical knowledge from Ziv about steps to startup 2.0: (1) come up with lots of ideas; (2) build a landing page for all them (have a mini simple site info only; (3) post ads on craigslist/facebook (get interest); and (4) see what people buy (find out the demand). Once the idea is validated, entrepreneurs must try to find the one thing that really matters. This lean startup method really breaks down and organizes the steps to entrepreneurship; it is especially useful for me as I embark turning some of my startup ideas into reality. Additionally, through this method of validation, one’s startup concept can evolve into something quite different from the original idea; examples include: (1) Uber growing from taxi alternative to all-purpose car delivery service; (2) SpoonRocket developing an on-demand food delivery model of only 2 food choices carried by drivers blanketing San Francisco; (3) AirBnb achieving growth by tweaking policy based on the request of Barry Manilow’s drummer to allow renting of space without the owner’s presence.
Later in the week, we got to visit WeWork, General Assembly, and Brooklyn Research. These were personally inspiring to me because I am passionate about the concepts of coworking, incubation, and education. I am now able to draw ideas from some of these to boost the project I am currently working on for the CEU NASDAQ new venture competition; seeing these spaces in person helped our team visualize our HIDstart incubator cafe concept. We were able to see all three in action and I was able to think about how spaces like these could really benefit Budapest or other cities in emerging regions.
The theme of “is an MBA worth it?” also came up in our visit at General Assembly, where they provide classes, training bundles, and networking for job searching which is some of what an MBA can offer but for a fraction of the time and cost. It’s a question that has been on the minds of many (including me) for years. Is the CEU MBA worth it? This is a question the CEU Business School community and stakeholders must constantly analyze. The differentiator of the CEU MBA for me has been (1) opportunity cost (in the $10-20k range it compares to the course packages at General Assembly); (2) networking, real world experience, and action learning (Bala Mulloth’s NYC module and Gyorgy Bogel’s action learning and innovation courses both offer influential guest speakers, company visits, and interactive projects); and (3) the bridge between being an American university located in Europe. At the conclusion of my MBA studies this year, I am confident that the CEU MBA will be worth it for me and it is programs such as the NYC module and exchange programs in IIM-Ahmedabad that specifically add value for personal and career growth.