“This week, the startup tribe from Harvard Business School is making their annual trek to Silicon Valley. They’ll hear from a variety of experts and get to see many startups firsthand. While they’re here, I’m sure they’ll be received warmly. But I don’t think they’d be too happy to hear what gets said about them when they leave the room.
It’s a common refrain around Silicon Valley to disparage the role of MBA’s in entrepreneurship. We still have some collective scar tissue: the idea conjures up the hordes of dot-com hopefuls that descended on VC’s and angel investors with little more than a business plan. Even today, I routinely hear MBA’s advised to remove the degree from their resume when applying to startup jobs. We also cavalierly lampoon the “suits” that get brought in to run startups after the founders are fired by callous VC’s. I used to call them “executioners” because their attempts to “execute” the standard general management playbook in the startup context of extreme uncertainty usually led to disaster.
But this anti-MBA bias harms the entrepreneurship ecosystem and limits opportunities even for startups that don’t employ a single MBA.”