I also found one quote interesting because it reflects such a myopic view of entrepreneurship: "Despite everything learned about business in MBA programs only 5% of graduates go on to start a business upon graduation!" It seems that in the author's mind, the only potential entrepreneurs are fresh graduates (i.e. people who don't know anything about anything). Did it occur to the author that many people go into an industry, learn how it works and build a network, then start a business once they have a strong foundation in place? Maybe that's not how your typical web startup works, but there is a whole world of entrepreneurship beyond that niche.
That is what works for you. But it could be the opposite for many including me.
Certainly it's not a requirement, and spending two years getting an MBA may just slow you down and mire you in debt. On the other hand, it could be a valuable asset to fall back on if a person realizes their app isn't a real business or entrepreneurship isn't for them.
6 inherited or married into their wealth.
5 are college dropouts.
5 have only a BS, mostly business or finance.
3 have a BS and some grad school.
4 have an MBA or MS in business.
2 have some other graduate degree.
All but one of the college dropouts are in tech.
Learning how to develop a business plan, forecast financials, develop consistent methodologies for leading, etc., are all covered under an MBA curriculum (or, they were covered in depth in all the books I read), and all are valuable when it comes to running a company.
Starting a company up? Maybe not, but having a solid foundation to rely on once the revenue starts coming in is absolutely included in an MBA program.
That said, I mentioned the Personal MBA Reading List above; I made it a goal to read the entire list within 18 months and got pretty close. I started a company first, and went on my reading journey second, but if nothing else, the material helped validate what I was doing, and filled in a lot of gaps where I hadn't learned anything experientially.
For example, in my MBA at the University of Colorado (CU), for:
#1 What you actually learn: there are a ton of startup/entrepreneurship classes: Startup Feasibility, Business Plan, Startup Execution, Entrepreneurial Projects, Entrepreneurial Finance, Entrepreneurial Marketing, just to name a few.
#2 In state tuition turns out to be around $25k/year. That's $50k total, which is 1/3 the cost stated (granted, CU is no ivy league).
#3 Making up what people actually do (agreeing to jobs for an additional +2 years) doesn't necessarily mean it's what everyone does.
#4 The right network. Boulder is the home of TechStars, The Unreasonable Institute, as well as a ton of other startups. It has a huge tech scene, outdoor industry, natural+organics, and green energy scene- all of which have a host of startups.
#5 Just because other people don't start businesses with their MBAs doesn't mean you can't.
I understand it's common for a lot of places like HN to dog on MBAs, but as an engineer who finished my MBA (but is staying an engineer), I think people underestimate some of the value of getting an MBA. Granted, it really depends on where you go, but there is such a thing as a good MBA.
I'm not going to tell people to get an MBA or a CS degree or take some kind of sabbatical. My MBA found me a better job even before I graduated (I went to evening classes). So I consider it to be helpful to me. I paid my tuition as I went.
Still, an MBA pushed me to start learning programming after seeing the MBA job market vs. programmer job market. Plus I was just used to learning at night after 3 years of evening classes.
If you don't want to get an MBA, maybe consider having one on your team. Don't think you can give yourself an MBA by reading HN. Most of the articles on HN relating to business are simplistic overviews of some of the basic concepts they teach MBAs. This includes anything related to finance, economics, marketing, branding, communication, leadership, critical thinking, and public speaking. It's disappointing when I go to a meetup and the speaker(s) cannot communicate their great ideas or businesses.
Other than the stress of school and work, the worst thing about getting an MBA was the blank stares when I mentioned something about Star Trek in class once (something like, "This case is just like Kobayashi Maru"). Maybe I'm different, then.
Don't have too much of a negative view about MBA people or the degree. They're closely related to computer folks. For instance, like CS, it helps to like math to be good in finance.
I believe my total tuition costs for BA, MBA, MSE were $18k. Best 18k I will ever spend in my life. Extremely high percentage of graduates from that program go out and work at startups.
EDIT: Technically the company I was working for paid for 12k of that.
I worked while doing my MBA, because I had a job that I loved and the lost salary didn't make sense. To the author's credit, I went to a more traditional school and the vast majority of my peers were not interested in pursuing a career as an entrepreneur - most went the traditional route of Finance or Marketing. But I was there to learn Entrepreneurship & Business and it was irrelevant what to me what my peers focus and drivers were. I've been out 6 years and have built a nice company since graduating, but still rely heavily on the things I worked so hard to learn while getting the MBA.
The network can be beneficial, but if you are depending upon it for success as an entrepreneur, then you will be sadly disappointed. In short, more education is always good - even if you can't see the immediate and direct correlation to your current efforts.
There might be an education bubble. There might be an anti-education bias - especially here.
But even with the best online tools and classes, what you learn with a standard curriculum is just better - that's the sad truth, and it is even truer if you are a self directed learner and don't care about the grades.
Case in point - I got interested in economics and started reading books - then followed online courses and videos from prestigious universities and so on. Purchased textbooks, etc. I worked seriously, but I soon realized that the freedom to dig on subjects I thought worth investigating was mitigated by the lack of common knowledge expected for advancing my knowledge further.
You can look at that like a multiple dependancies problem - except that you don't know about these dependancies beforehand.
With a traditional class, you acquire the same vocabulary, the same comparison basis and so on - and that's priceless. I have started taking classes, and I now realize that. I learn about topics I would have never learnt on my own and I realize 'yes, they could be quite useful'.
Please realize I'm not even taking about the network or other benefits you may find in an MBA - just the actual knowledge.
I haven't done an MBA (yet?), but I guess most of the commenters here haven't either - and haven't even tried and given up (which would then be interesting to know).
So I wonder how they can judge about its pertinence. Before this experience, I was also imbued in delusions of "online learning that made everything possible". But there's a dependency ceiling - I've touched it. Personally, if I can enroll in one, I know I will.
I chose to go back for an MBA after 8+ years of a wonderful career because I knew there were significant holes in my knowledge that I wanted to address while simultaneously using it as a platform from which I could start a company. Yes, the alumni connections are wonderful and the school name does carry some weight in certain circles, but more than anything I love learning from faculty who are some of the great entrepreneurial thought leaders of our time and passionate students who genuinely want to create businesses with lasting value.
Of course it's crazy expensive and it's not a choice you make lightly but for me personally, it was the best possible way to become an entrepreneur. (The school actually gave us some funding/grants, allowed us to incubate on site, etc. Super supportive.)
Oh and I am considering applying to Y-Combinator/TechStars when I graduate because while I'll have a solid business foundation, there is still tons I need to learn about entrepreneurship.
#1 - MBA programs's are not focused on entrepreneurship but it doesn't negate that they have entrepreneurship courses. There is also a huge benefit to entrepreneurs in understanding business while creating new business, and in knowing exactly where and how your business idea fits in a "corporate structure". Not every startup is a consumer targeted mobile application.
#4 - Just because the network isn't 100% entrepreneurs does not mean you can't gain value from it. Similarly, unlike an incubator you are investing 1-2 years into an MBA, and build stronger relationships and ties within that network.
#5 - 5% entrepreneur rate of a large alumni network is still most likely larger than an entire incubator's alumni network.
For points #2 and #3, it's a personal choice on whether or not to make the investment. People differ by their risk averseness and in the amount of resources they have to invest, and unlike your bootstrapped startup an MBA sticks with you for life.
TL;DR: The MBA is your own investment to make, not Naysawn Naderi's.
Dave McClure has a great presentation about not doing a startup because you will fail: http://www.geekwire.com/2012/dave-mcclure-startup-advice/
I wonder if any amount of proper education can change the fact that we'll all probably have to fail a couple of times before creating something which really takes off.
The Steve Blank one is pretty awesome: http://www.udacity.com/overview/Course/ep245/CourseRev/1
I think you do. The type of person you are and how you affect yourself and others is what will lead you down the path to failure or success in your business, or any endeavor you embark on.
If it's a dream of yours to get an MBA, go get one.
If you have no interest of ever going back to school, don't.
Either way, you can still achieve amazing things.