MVP > MBA @ HBS And Why Other Business Schools Should Create Programs Around Verbs, Not Nouns

To every MBA student out there…verbs not nouns

I spent Tuesday at Harvard Business School with some other VCs. I have an MBA and my knock on the degree is that it is risk mitigating at the core and most programs do not focus on de-risking, but on not taking risk in the first place. Thus, consultants and bankers go in…more senior consultants and bankers come out. The MVP program at Harvard is changing this.

Unlike the standard business school business plan competitions, this is not about plan, it is about do. Initiated by students Dan Rumennik, Jess Bloomgarden, and Andrew Rosenthal, it was born out of the “start-up Tribe“. The applicants are required to submit the standard stuff including business description supported by market research, team biographies etc. BUT, they also have to submit the following:

  • a description of the minimum viable product you intend to build, and a detailed accounting of the specific resources you will need to accomplish this, the identified sources of those resources (e.g., web developers, prototypes, etc.) and the cost of those resources which should add up to your budget and requested award. Also indicate what resources you may already have raised or invested in the venture.
  • what specific results the MVP is designed to provide and how the results will help the team progress with business idea.

This changes the plan (noun) into a plan of action that includes specific steps and actions to be taken (verb).

I met with some winners and some who entered but did not win. All were MBA students but unlike most, they were focused on de-risking a business by building, testing, and learning rather than de-risking life by applying, interviewing and accepting.

Congrats to everyone involved and thanks for taking the time to meet me this week. You are on to something and no matter what happens with your business, the fact that you are doing it means you are getting more out of your MBA than most.

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