Why MBAs Love Online Business
What makes internet businesses so enticing? We speak to MBAs who received multiple job offers from internet firms about the gruelling interview process, and why they love their jobs!
What makes internet businesses so enticing to MBAs? We speak to MBAs working for Groupon and start-ups HitFox and Project Firefly about the advantages of internet firms, and what it takes to land a job in the sector.
The first thing that MBAs love about start-ups is that they are flexible and give staff the chance to try their hands at different areas of the business.
You can easily find an employee at a start-up doing everything from negotiating deals with clients to advertising products using Twitter and Facebook.
At a fast-growing internet firm you get the chance to understand the business as a whole and are very close to both the successes and failures that result from your actions.
“It provides the opportunity to make an impact without navigating the hierarchy present in bigger global organizations. Wearing so many hats enhances your skillset because you get to really see the value of all things you learned on the MBA”, said St Gallen MBA Nitin Misra.
Nitin graduated from a full-time MBA at University of St. Gallen and works for Project Firefly, a company that wants to change the way students share knowledge using the internet. Prior to this he worked as an IT Consultant for big corporations including Oracle, HCL Technologies and Accenture.
Start-ups are designed to deliver new products or services under conditions of extreme uncertainty and it is the speed of learning that EMLYON MBA Vibhuti Singh finds incredible. He said, “It is that continuous learning that wouldn’t be possible in an established company with strictly defined roles”.
Nitin works as a product manager, also at Project Firefly and says that the biggest advantage is the chance to push his limits and help to create something larger in the future.
Charting your own course for growth is an obvious positive but he warns that this comes at the price of working in an environment that might be too dynamic. “You might not always reach a goal in a start-up because there are no concrete plans or strict processes to get there”.
That being said, getting into the start-up scene is no easy feat. For those who want to work at highly sought-after firms backed by top venture capitalists, get prepared for a marathon of interviews full of tough questions.
Vibhuti, who is in his second week at work as a senior product manager for Groupon in Berlin had to survive 14 interview rounds. He calls Groupon “a start-up on steroids” and if you think that such interviews are peculiar, think again.
Two months out of EMLYON Business School, Vibhuti had 11 job offers with internet start-up in different European countries.
One of the interview sessions he attended lasted for seven hours straight and he was asked bizarre questions like: “If you have a ball whose breaking point you don’t know, how do you guard it if you have to throw it out of a window?”
“I couldn’t even think straight at that point. I felt the interview was more on stress testing than anything else”, he said.
Such intense job application processes shows that getting into the right internet start-up takes time and planning.
Vibhuti believes that highlighting his past work experience at EBay was essential in getting him the job with Groupon and so many job offers in general.
Shinobu Ishibashi also works for Groupon, in analytics, but is based in Zurich. Her career progression has been quite interesting, starting out as an international relations student who got interested in e-commerce during her university days and joined the computer club to pick up essential skills on the side.
She moved in and out of the tech space working for consulting firm ZS Associates, and for Apple in Japan.
At each place she strengthened her knowledge in how to boost sales revenue by studying data and making predictions.
After being away from work for two years because she had a baby, Shinobu applied for an MBA at St. Gallen because it was “an entry ticket and the best way to develop connections in the Swiss market”. Shinobu’s husband is Swiss and they decided to make a home there.
Google, EBay, Groupon and Bindie operate in the Zurich area and those were some of the companies that Shinobu narrowed down on her list.
Abhishek, another class of 2012 graduate from the University of St. Gallen was keen to work in start-up because he didn’t feel like he could go back to the corporate hierarchy after the MBA.
At the same time, he needed a job with enough security to pay off his b-school loans. Getting a job in a well-established VC-backed tech start-up was the perfect compromise.
He started by searching for venture funds to see who they were backing and soon zoned in on Berlin, the start-up hub for Europe.
His journey to HitFox was a long conversation lasting two months. There were four or five telephone interviews with HR and the product manager. He then visited Berlin and spent two days meeting with the CEO and the senior partners at the firm.
Lots of tough questions were thrown at him. HitFox is a company that provides advertising infrastructure for games publishers and Abhishek is an entrepreneur-in-residence with them.
They plan to start new companies every year and are actively seeking ideas that are high margin and can be replicated quickly.
At one of the interviews he was asked to evaluate five different gaming companies if he had $10 million dollars to spend, explaining how much he would invest in each one and why.
Technology changes so fast and internet start-ups come and go every day. Those who want to work with them need to understand the business model and how the company plans to survive in the long run.
Over at IESE Business School, students are getting a holistic view of the world of start-ups by visiting Silicon Valley. During the first year of the programme, students take a core course on entrepreneurship that is invaluable for students who want to embark on either corporate or traditional entrepreneurship ventures.
30 students are on a trip this week and they will be visiting start-ups, investors and incubators. They plan to visit approximately 20 organizations, including WhatsApp, Khosla Ventures, 500 Startups, Lemon, Dorsey & Whitney, Scale Venture Partners and Cisco Systems.
The main goal of the visit is to give MBA students a deep understanding of entrepreneurial initiatives through direct contact with firms and business leaders in the area.
IESE MBAs will learn key skills for launching new ventures (just in case they want to try their hands at it!), e.g. how to secure capital, avoid common entrepreneurial mistakes, resolve conflicts, lead global business projects and create strong teams.
On March 28, IESE will host an Entrepreneurial Forum in San Francisco, with guest speaker Andrew Chung, partner of venture capital firm Khosla Ventures. He will give a talk titled "Inventing the Future" and a panel discussion including entrepreneurs and venture capitalists will follow.