5 Million to Share: The 43North Competition

Want to know more? Listen to the full episode!Do you have a great business idea but need 1 million dollars to get yourself started? Meet Peter Burakowski, Senior Marketing Manager at 43North.

Listen to the recording of our fascinating conversation with Peter to find out why 43North is going to give away $5 million dollars to eleven promising entrepreneurs and what you need to do if you want to be one of the winners.

00:01:43 – About 43North (and why you really want to win).

00:10:06 – Who can apply.

00:11:21 – Why retail and hospitality are excluded.

00:12:25 – The 43North application process.

00:14:30 – What are the judges looking for?

00:16:33 – Setting up shop in Buffalo.

00: 21:49 – How many applicants are vying for the gold?

00:23:37 – About the judges. (Will you be one of them?)

00:27:32 – Mentorship and community.

00:31:03 – A lot more than a t-shirt: what happens to the semi-finalists.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss a single episode! *Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Relevant Links:

•  43North
•  Which Universities Contribute the Most to VC-Backed Entrepreneurship?
•  MBA Admissions Special Reports
•  Grad School Admissions Special Reports
•  Med School Admissions Special Reports
•  Law School Admissions Special Reports

Related Shows:

•  MBAs Across America: The Coolest HBS Internship
•  Which Schools are Good for PE/VC and VC-Backed Entrepreneurship
•  Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman
•  Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC
•  Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship
•  CommonBond’s Story: A Revolution in Student Loans

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk:

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes!     Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

What Are My Chances? Midwestern Sales Guy with Start Up Ambition

This blog post is one in a series of MBA applicant profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?” authored by Michelle Stockman. Michelle, who started consulting for Accepted in 2007 and worked previously in the Columbia Business School admissions office, will provide selected applicants with school recommendations as well as an evaluation of their qualifications.

If you would like Michelle to evaluate your profile at no charge and as part of this series, please provide the information requested at http://reports.accepted.com/what_are_my_chances

Profile 4: “Matt” the do-gooder Midwestern sales guy, with start up ambition

Check out the rest of the What Are My Chances? series!

Don’t forget your hometown advantage.

-Background: 28-year-old white male from Midwest. Business major with 3.7 GPA from state university in Indiana. Scholarship cross-country runner and team captain.

Matt, you’re like a lot of biz grads in the U.S., perhaps a bit bored after a few years in the workforce. You see a long, slow road ahead if you settle for climbing the corporate ladder. You seem to want to test yourself and follow your dreams. What you’ll need to prove to the admissions committee is your unique worth—what you have to offer to the rest of the student body in terms of skill, knowledge, and drive.

What does set apart your undergrad experience is your strong extra-curricular as a scholarship cross-country runner while managing a very decent GPA. I’m sure your tenure as a team captain gives you several stories of leadership and teamwork. But college was a long time ago. Keep your application as much in the present as possible.

-Work Experience: Four years as account manager at rapidly-expanding B2B technology firm
 in Chicago. Managed a sales team of 20 people.

CFA level II candidate.

You’ve got solid work experience on an upward trajectory at a, likely, regional firm that’s respected within the industry, but not a Blue Chip brand on the national or international stage. It’s fantastic that you’ve managed a sales team of so many people—shows you’ve got to know how to motivate and delegate. Can you quantify the impact of your leadership?

On the other hand, I do wonder why you are pursuing your CFA. It doesn’t seem to mesh with your career path in sales, and I’m not sure a sales background would qualify you to become a charterholder. Perhaps it’s a side interest?

-Short-term goal: Found a tech startup in the software industry.

As an ad comm. member, I would have lots of questions about this goal. What is your idea, exactly? What kind of research have you done to show demand? As a sales guy, do you have the technical expertise needed, or do you already have partners in mind? Do you have any prior experience in start ups, or fundraising? You would need to connect the dots in the application.

-Long-term goal: Eventually move into private equity investing.

Ah, this is where the interest in the CFA likely comes in. If I were you, I would not reach so far with your long-term goal. If you’ve got a reasonable story to support entrepreneurship, stick with the long-term goal of growing your start up into a larger firm. Delving beyond that into private equity investing could be confusing to the ad comm.

-GMAT: 700 45 Q/40 V.

This is a pretty good GMAT, but the quant is a little low for the top echelon of schools. You may want to consider retaking if that’s your first try. A higher score would increase your competitiveness.

-Extracurriculars: 5x volunteer for Christian summer service group building schools and water projects in Ghana. Run twice-weekly youth program at church.

Wow, you’re a busy, faithful guy. These activities show long-term dedication and international reach. The ad comm. will want to see that you’ve moved up into leadership positions, and perhaps introduced some innovations to the projects.

 It’s important to show you have values, but don’t get too preachy. The ad comm. may hold a different belief system from you. Focus on how you may have helped communities, and even better, individuals to improve not so much by the transformative force of a higher power, but by smart, innovative leadership on your part.


Stretch matches: Kellogg, Booth

On-par matches: Michigan, CMU Tepper, Emory Goizueta, UT McCombs

Safety matches: Notre Dame Mendoza, Indiana Kelley

Final Note: Don’t forget your hometown advantage. You’ve done well in the Midwest, likely building up lots of respect and connections locally. You’d do well to tap into those by staying in the Midwest for b-school, and then through the connections you make, build out.

Learn how to evaluate your profile to determine the best business school for you!

Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.

Goal Setting as an Entrepreneur

Check out our Entrepreneurship 101 Page!I always ask my clients to state their long and short-term goals for me on our first meeting.  Eighty percent of the time I hear the response, “I want to be an entrepreneur.”  So I begin to peel away at the onion.

• What problem is your business going to solve?

•  Why is it different than a solution that exists today?

• Is there a market for the goods or services you plan to sell?

•  How big is that market?

•  Who is your competition?

•  Can you patent your solution?

•  What will your margins be?

•  How will you finance this business?

•  What is your expected return on investment?

•  What is the exit strategy?

You can’t just say, “I want to be an entrepreneur” and leave it at that.  You also can’t just have an idea or concept.  You need to have the skeleton of an actual business plan if you want to credibly declare yourself an entrepreneur in your MBA application.

Click here to download our free report, 'Why MBA?'.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Top MBA Programs for Entrepreneurs

B-schools are always touting their entrepreneurial offerings, programs, and placement, so when we examined the employment reports of U.S. News’ top 25 business schools to see which schools send the most graduates into entrepreneurship, we were surprised to find that only thirteen programs provide this information in their employment reports.

Below you’ll find the results – the U.S. News’ top 25 MBA programs that reveal the number and percentage of 2013 grads who immediately founded their own businesses after completing their MBA:


# of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

% of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

Standford GSB 70 18%
MIT Sloan 37 9.5%
Wharton 59 7.5%
Harvard Business School 63 7%
Yale SOM 10 4.5%
UCLA Anderson 14 4%
Kellogg* 3%
Chicago Booth 17 3%
Columbia 18 2.5%
NYU Stern 2%**
Michigan Ross 8 1.5%
Duke Fuqua 4 1%
CMU Tepper 2 1%

* Numbers include all Kellogg MBA programs
** % of reported placements

Clearly, Stanford is way out in front in this horse race. MIT Sloan with its program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a distant #2, followed by HBS and Wharton in a tie for third place. Stanford and Sloan have long been known for entrepreneurship, but HBS and Wharton are generally thought of as financial services and consulting breeding grounds. In reality, both programs – without taking away from their strength in consulting and financial services – have sharpened the entrepreneurial saw over the last decade.

This comparison is useful for those of you who want to start your own business ASAP after earning an MBA. It is an indication of an entrepreneurial culture and education. And if entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately an entrepreneurial alumni network is important to you, then you need to know which schools are strong in this area and how they compare.

While this listing is useful, it still doesn’t tell the entire story of MBA programs’ entrepreneurial strength. Many business school grads will work for a few years to pay back loans and then start their own businesses. Among those, there will be a few grads who immediately enter a startup, so essentially they will initially be entrepreneurs on someone else’s dime. There are other MBAs who will work in entrepreneurial areas of established companies. None of these MBAs are reflected in the chart above, but all still benefited from their MBA program’s entrepreneurial education and culture.

Additionally, either we couldn’t find the data or schools don’t all publish these numbers. Consequently, the chart above is incomplete. Don’t automatically assume that programs we haven’t listed aren’t good for entrepreneurship. For example Haas has a highly entrepreneurial culture and many courses relevant to entrepreneurship, but we couldn’t find the number of 2013 grads who started their own business immediately upon graduation. Don’t let that lack of info prevent you from considering Haas if founding a startup is your dream. Similarly, Georgetown has many entrepreneurship resources (See Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship at Georgetown). Finally, programs outside US News’ top 25, may be excellent for entrepreneurship, deserving of consideration, and easier to get into (For example, Babson).

As with almost all stats in MBA admissions – especially anything related to (un)rankings and comparing programs – take this data as useful information not as the be all and end all of evaluating the entrepreneurial value of different MBA programs. It is simply a succinct compilation of data that you should incorporate into the additional research you should do before deciding where to earn your MBA. Also consider:

• Entrepreneurial curriculum. What classes are offered? Are there opportunities to develop and work on a business plan?

• Extracurricular groups and activities. Are there venture capital competitions, clubs, events, etc.?

• The student profiles at specific schools. Are they entrepreneurial? Would you like to be on a project with them?

Now it’s time for me to get back to drafting that business plan on the back of a napkin.

If any school in the US News’ top 25 includes that data in their employment report and we missed it, or they published the data after we visited their site, please email saraw@accepted.com and we’ll add it.

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

CommonBond’s Story: A Revolution in Student Loans

Listen to the full recording of our conversation with Michael and David.

The CommonBond co-founders (L to R: Michael Taormina, CFO; Jessup Shean, Advisor; David Klein, CEO)

Welcome to the glorious world of applications, admissions, and…well, student loans.

CommonBond to the rescue! Meet David Klein and Michael Taormina, Wharton grads and co-founders of this very exciting student loan financing startup.

Listen to the full recording of the show to learn about CommonBond, student loans in general and some excellent advice on financing your education.

00:02:45 – Inspiration at Wharton (or ‘Wow, tuition is high!’).

00:05:04 – The three S’s that make CommonBond unique.

00:09:10 – Beyond funding: community, mentorship, and support at CommonBond.

00:13:00 – Is there a 100 million dollar upgrade coming up?

00:14:02 – Flat rates for all. (Even lawyers!?)

00:17:28 – A guided tour of the loan application process.

00:22:52 – Refinance candidates vs. in-school candidates.

00:24:06 – CommonBond’s goals for 2014.

00:25:40 – What about international students?

00:28:42 – Financial advice for applicants and future applicants.

00:37:18 – A personal question: What motivated 2 guys with successful careers go to b-school?

00:43:17 – Some very concrete tips for getting into business school.

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss any segments! Stay in the admissions know.

*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Relevant Links:

•  CommonBond
•  MBA Budget Calculator
•  MBA Special Reports
•  Law School Special Reports
•  Pre-Med Special Reports
•  Grad School Special Reports

Related Shows:

•  Interview with SoFi Co-Founder, Daniel Macklin
•  Global Business Leadership at Wharton’s Lauder Institute
•  Which Schools are Good for PE/VC and VC-Backed Entrepreneurship
•  Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman
•  Healthcare Management at Wharton and at Large

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk:

Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes!     Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

Best B-Schools for Entrepreneurs

Want to get into to Chicago Booth? Register for our free webinar to learn how.

There’s also prize money involved – about $200,000 to split among the 30 winners of the New Venture Challenge at Chicago Both.

A recent Wall Street Journal article discusses the difficult mission of finding the right b-school for entrepreneurs. It lists the different rankings sites and the variety of results they offer for top entrepreneur-focused b-school programs: Businessweek puts Stanford at the top of the list; Entrepreneur magazine gives top marks to Michigan Ross; and Poets & Quants gives Harvard Business School the #1 spot.

The article also points out how different schools showcase their entrepreneurial strengths in different ways: Stanford touts the most startups per student as well as its access to investors; HBS highlights that its student ventures attracted the most funding; and Booth measures its start-up success by the number of ventures purchased or merged. Other programs emphasize their efforts to mix with other school departments, like Penn with its entrepreneur and engineering/computer science programs and CMU Tepper with its business/computer science co-led Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Focus on Chicago Booth

In the last year, at least eight Chicago Booth student ventures acquired or merged, in part due to the school’s New Venture Challenge – a program in which students present business plans (about 100 total) from which investors choose the top 30. The selected students then enroll in a course that helps them prepare their plans for investor pitches. There’s also prize money involved – about $200,000 to split among the 30 winners.

Check out our recent podcast interview for the lowdown on •	A law degree as a path to the business world   •	When to get an MBA and a JD •	Advice for anyone considering a degree in law or business and more!


Which Schools are Good for PE/VC and VC-Backed Entrepreneurship

Browse through other episodes of Admissions Straight Talk.Admit it: You love the ring of ‘venture capital’ and ‘private equity.’

Enter Pitchbook, the ultimate resource for those looking for a future in PE/VC (and those looking for VCs to fund their futures).

Listen to the full recording of our conversation with Andy White, Senior Research Associate for Pitchbook for some great stats, info, and predictions that every PE/VC wannabe should know.

00:02:22 – PitchBook: Cat-and-mouse game or encyclopedia? (Or both?)

00:04:34 – “Top Universities Producing VC-backed Entrepreneurs.” Why this topic and why these schools.

00:07:54 – Several reasons that some schools just manage to produce more funding-receiving entrepreneurs.

00:13:55 – There is hope for you to get a PE/VC job if you don’t attend Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg. But there is even more hope if you do.

00:19:11 – Another important factor for breaking into the VC industry: your pre-MBA work.

00:22:36 – Spreading the word about the world of VC & PE.

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss any segments! Stay in the admissions know.

*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Relevant Links:

•  MBA in Sight: Focus on Finance
•  Accepted Blog: Posts on Entrepreneurship
•  PitchBook.com
•  PitchBook Blog
•   “Harvard, 4 Other Schools, Make Up Most MBAs at PE & VC Firms
•  “Top Universities Producing VC-backed Entrepreneurs
•  “Could You Live Without Private Equity?”

Related Episodes

•  Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman
•  Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC
•  From Luxury Marketing to Entrepreneurship: A Talk with Daria Burke
•  Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship
•  Interview with Anne Perigo, UM Master in Entrepreneurship


•  Admissions Straight Talk on iTunes
•  Admissions Straight Talk on Stitcher

Which Universities Contribute the Most to VC-Backed Entrepreneurship?

PitchBook did a study that ranks universities around the world based on the number of graduates who have founded U.S. companies with VC-funding from 2010 to 2013. The idea is that a school’s ranking success shouldn’t just reflect its scores or its sports teams, but that it should reflect how actively the schools are producing economic value in the U.S. – attracting investors and generating jobs.

Check out our College Admissions 101 page.

The Indian Institutes of India is the only non-American school on the list, showing, as the PitchBook blog post points out, the value immigrants bring to the U.S. economy.

See the PitchBook blog for more info.


Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman

Check out other podcast episodes here.Want to start a business? Partner in a law firm? Go into private equity? Run a media and entertainment company? How about all of the above?

Learn from someone who has done it all. And doesn’t normally give interviews.

Listen to the full recording of our interview with John Engelman, for tips, advice and insights from a guy who’s made the journey from lawyer to private equity dealmaker to media and entertainment entrepreneur and executive.

00:01:40 – Meet our guest, John Engelman. Sounds like he’s been busy for the past few years.

00:03:45 – From crisis control to strategic planning: The transition from law partner to businessperson.

00:04:58 – When (and if) a law degree is a good path to the business world.

00:07:19 – An MBA, JD, both, or neither?

00:09:12 – The skill a would-be-entrepreneur needs to master. (Is entrepreneurship class a contradiction?)

00:12:48 – Media & entertainment: The most dynamic, regulated, and international industry out there. Are they paying me or am I paying them?

00:15:37 – The lifecycle of a media property (for Linda, the hills are still alive with the sound of music).

00:19:27 – The definition of good networking? Mom was right – you really should be nice to your roommate.

00:22:39 – Top tips for negotiating and the biggest negotiating mistakes people make.

00:26:43 – What separates a good businessperson from a bad businessperson. Hint: it isn’t IQ points.

00:29:14 – The secret of maintaining a work-life balance and the tragic risk of burnout.

00:35:12 – John’s best piece of advice for someone considering a career in business or law.

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss any segments! Stay in the admissions know.

*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Relevant Links:

•  Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
•  MBA in Sight: Focus on Finance

Related Episodes

•  Case Interview Secrets and More with Victor Cheng
•  MBAs Across America: The Coolest HBS Internship
•  Interview with Anne Perigo, UM Master in Entrepreneurship
•  Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship
•  Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC


•  Admissions Straight Talk on iTunes
•  Admissions Straight Talk on Stitcher

7 Tips for MBA Applicants from Family Businesses

There is simply no way that a letter from a parent, cousin, grandparent or other family member will seem objective enough to be credible.

There is simply no way that a letter from a parent, cousin, or grandparent will seem objective enough to be credible.

You work for the family business and are applying for an MBA. Will this background be a net plus for you, or a minus? How can you make the most of this experience?

I have worked with several clients who worked in a family business, including tiny start-ups whose headquarters was the family basement to multimillion dollar enterprises with hundreds of employees. No matter the size of the business, I found that my clients had many strengths to offer in their essays based on their experiences. Here are a few of them.

1. You see the forest and the trees. If you’ve grown up in the business, no matter its size, you probably have gained some valuable knowledge about many aspects of it: sales, production, marketing, product innovation, customer service, perhaps even basic finance. Over the years (some applicants will have started working in the business on weekends as teenagers), and especially if the business is small, you will have the same advantage as other applicants who have worked in start-ups or other small businesses, which is the experience of filling different roles and gaining a more holistic view of how the business operates. This allows you to show knowledge of and appreciation for the importance of various business functions working together for a common goal.

2. You have an owner’s mindset, not an employee’s mindset. You can also demonstrate a built-in investment in the success of the business, whether you plan to return to work there post-MBA or not. This added incentive to see the business thrive and grow may have prompted you to work after-hours on projects that you initiated. Additionally, with some level of built-in trust from management, you may also have been given more leeway to innovate, making the potential impact of your contributions that much greater and the lessons learned that much more valuable.

3. You’ve developed communications skills that allow you to influence those senior to you. You are most likely much younger than your relatives who own and manage the company. Therefore, you may have helped to introduce more tech-savvy innovations or a social media presence, which come more naturally to you. Getting “buy-in” from an “old school” mentality is another opportunity to show your communications skills and savvy.

4. You have a job when you graduate, if you want it.. The school won’t need to worry about your employment prospects, if you want to return to the family business. Having said all that, you still need to prove that you’ve enjoyed the level of responsibility that you claim.

The adcom members may be skeptical that your dad/mom/uncle/aunt really held your feet to the fire in meeting deadlines or proving yourself on the job. The dynamics among relatives who work together can also be tricky, and getting letters of recommendation will be a challenge. Here’s how you can deal with these issues:

1. Quantify your achievements and offer as much anecdotal evidence as possible. Yes, this is strategically important even if you are not from a family business background, but it’s especially true here. If you successfully negotiated a new lease agreement for the business saving it $X per month, found a better way to screen job applicants, brought in new customers through the Facebook business page you created that reduced cost per lead by Y%, write about it. The classic rule of “show, don’t tell,” is critical here.

2. Demonstrate your ability to successfully navigate the built-in pitfalls of working with family members. I once had a client where family members fought hard over the succession plans of the business after the business owner and patriarch passed away. Things were getting ugly. My client convinced everyone to work with a skilled mediator whom he had chosen to help reach an understanding. The mediation succeeded, which arguably saved the business from being eaten up by lawsuits. It also managed to preserve family relationships. Another client had ideas to expand sales territory for her family business, but the management resisted change. Through her research, my client was able to prove her idea was a good and calculated risk. She succeeded in selling her fresh thinking to her parents, and the business benefitted from her ideas.

3. Don’t ask relatives, especially those who share your last name, for your letters of recommendation, even if that relative is your direct supervisor and knows your work and capabilities better than anyone. There is simply no way that a letter from a parent, cousin, grandparent or other family member will seem objective enough to be credible. You may need to approach a supervisor from a previous job who can attest to your maturity, quantitative skills and initiative, and other achievements, or someone who supervised you in another organization – perhaps if you were an active volunteer in a community organization or church group. However, you need to have recommenders who can speak about your abilities in the recent past – within the last two years. If you don’t have these options available to you and you’ve only worked in the family business, perhaps someone affiliated with the business might be suitable: an accountant or attorney, or an important customer or supplier. Remember, your interactions with these individuals must be frequent enough and substantial enough for them to comment intelligently and with some specificity on your work and personal character traits.

All in all, working for a family business has probably provided you with extremely valuable experience. It may also have made you nimble in your abilities to work across different departments, and given you a front-row seat in watching your relatives deal with the ongoing challenges of running a business in rapidly changing times. Not a bad set of experiences with which to apply to b-school!

Judy Gruen By , MBA admissions consultant since 1996 and author (with Linda Abraham) of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.