Engineering and business students were brought together Friday at The Technology Startup Boot Camp, a yearly workshop put on by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute. The institute, an on campus organization focused on technology capitalization, put on the even in cooperation with the Smith school’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship.
The MBA students were the minority among the Engineering undergrads, masters, and PhD students, some with prototypes in hand ready to try their pitch on anyone who made eye contact.
The results were beyond my expectations. The speaker panel discussion was led by Jonathan Aberman, a lawyer turned venture capitalist, who coaxed out candid thoughts from the panel, with my favorites below:
When asked “What is an entrepreneur?”
-“People to whom ‘no’ is more motivating.”
-Donna Harris, Managing Director, Startup Regions, Startup America Partnership
(definitely resonated on a few past experience of my own)
When asked “What are common mistakes of entrepreneurs?”
-The misconception of early phase competition: “In the early phase, there is no competition….because you don’t exist! Your biggest competition is yourself. So exist! Go get customers, and get business!”
– Alex Murphy, Founder, Long Tail Interactive
“Focus on profitability.” “Be thoughtful on venture capital and angel capital.” “ Choose your financial partners wisely. Choose those that can be more than money.”
-Donna Harris, Managing Director, Startup Regions, Startup America
My favorite moment of the afternoon was when a very confident engineering student stood up and asked, “What is the value of MBA- do you need an MBA?”
It turned out three of the five panelists turned out having MBAs, and the entirety of the panel stressed the knowledge gained through the program, acknowledging that there were many ways of ascertaining such knowledge, by far the most rounded method was through an MBA program.
Further points made about MBAs were:
“The person that understands numbers is most valuable in times of stress.”
– Jonathan Aberman, Managing Director, Amplifier Ventures; Founder, FounderCorps
“Having cross functional knowledge helps you be a better decision make.r” “[the MBA] is about making better decisions.”
“[Success] is about execution.” “An MBA helps put those tools in your toolbox.”
– Dadi Akhavan, President and Co-Founder, E-centives
With my current life choice validated, I sat up straight in my chair and pulled my jacket lapel back uncovering my nametag, reading MBA candidate 2013.