First and Second year MBAs: Escape the confines of the cubicle and hit the open road with three of your classmates for a once-in-a-lifetime journey of impact across the US to work alongside, learn from, and support entrepreneurs who are building businesses that make their communities better.
Many MBAs might ask “why?”
Why get on the vast, unknown road instead of the path that’s certain — the one that others expect me to follow? Why go to cities that are bankrupt or towns smaller than my high school, and leave behind the bright lights of major hubs? Why drive thousands of miles to meet strangers and eat in roadside diners and face new challenges each week?
We’re building a movement alongside MBAs who ask “why not?”
Why not put my passion, skills, and creativity to the test and make real impact with real entrepreneurs? Why not go on an adventure that will lead me to new insights on people, places, and ideas that I’ve never seen before? Why not use my last precious summer to build a movement that will put the wind at the back of job-creators and revitalize America?
Care deeply about the mission: Have an authentic and purpose-driven commitment to the work.
Listen more than you speak: Abandon airtime. Four people listening and asking thoughtful questions are more valuable than one person having a brilliant answer. MBAx teams connect with their entrepreneurs on a personal level first and include them in the work as participating members of the team, not as an audience.
Act more than you plan: The constraints of a week do not allow for hours of fiddling with a five year pro-forma model or excruciating over font size in a soon-to-be-forgotten deck. Our litmus test: what are we creating with the entrepreneur that they can put to use the week after we leave? What can they actually do with what we are creating, and when? If the answer is “not much” or “not soon”, go back to the drawing board.
Be willing to navigate uncertainty and discomfort: Being on the road will challenge you in expected and unexpected ways. Be open to the opportunities for growth that these challenges bring and to learning from your teammates, entrepreneurs, and others you meet along the way.
If this sounds like you, you’re three steps away from hitting the road.
All it takes is 4 pioneering MBAs to make a team.
Once you have your team, you’ll spend the months leading up to the summer planning your team’s journey — selecting a route, the entrepreneurs you’ll work with, and getting to the heart of the biggest questions that they’re asking about their business. You’ll also connect you with mentors, business and political leaders, and creative catalysts from around the world that will be your network on the ground during the summer and beyond.
Each week, you’ll partner with a visionary entrepreneur to work through their biggest challenge or opportunity, engage with the change-makers of each community you visit, and share your story on the MBAxAmerica blog and national media outlets.
After the summer, you’ll have a portfolio of MBAxAmerica projects that you’ve worked on with real American startups and small businesses.
MBAx has been one of the most amazing and transformative experiences for me. It was definitely filled with challenges, apprehension, struggle, and sometimes feelings of defeat, but I learned a ton about myself, my team, and this country. I walked away feeling empowered, inspired, and excited for what’s to come in the years ahead, and I think that many students will gain a tremendous benefit from exposing themselves to business on such a grassroots level. It is the type of learning that you won’t find in a classroom no matter how prestigious the university or sincere the intentions of the faculty. This is a very entrepreneurial endeavor and a unique experience that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Do it! Take the leap! You will forever be a better person in business and in life for it.
Samuel Wollner, MBAx1 Fellow, Columbia Business School Graduate, Currently at Deloitte
MBAx is a transformational experience. I left Detroit, our last stop, humbled and exhausted by the many challenges we faced alongside our intrepid entrepreneurs. And yet, few experiences have been so inspiring and formative in my career. In hindsight, the real “victories” in our adventure were the personal connections we made. Take the time to have a meal, see a concert, or float down a river with the people you meet along the way, and you could very well get a glimpse into the hopes and fears of your entrepreneurs and the communities they impact. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see so many incredible American cities and get to know so many inspiring Americans. MBAx is not easy, but it is worth it.
For more thoughts from our Inaugural Class, check out our Alumni Perspectives page
Sarah Calhoun, MBAx0/1, Founder & Owner at Red Ants Pants – White Sulphur Springs, Montana
Working with MBAs Across America was a huge success. For those of us entrepreneurs that haven’t taken a business class in our lives, there is so much to be learned from MBA students who have knowledge and up to date business information at hand. And from the students’ perspective, getting out into the corners of America where small business owners are living and breathing entrepreneurship on the ground level, there is a great deal of practical experience to witness and learn from. I’m a strong believer that it takes rolling up your sleeves and experiencing it first hand to understand what it really takes to run a business. This collaboration is an exceptional fit that truly benefits both the entrepreneurs and the MBA students.
Aaron Hill, MBAx1, Co-founder at Fargo Brewing Company – Fargo, North Dakota
The MBAx team was great. Their communication was excellent, they were very professional, fun and added a ton of value. I cannot believe how much they accomplished in only one week. Great experience, would highly recommend it to other entrepreneurs.
For more thoughts from entrepreneurs who have worked with MBAx teams, check out our Entrepreneur Perspectives page.
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