Cofounder · Founders

Does an MBA mean anything to investors?

shakoya mclaurin I am an ambitious young women that works hard.

May 4th, 2017

I have a colleague who’s the only MBA among his cofounders. He’s told me that he believes it’ll give his company a major leg up with investors, but I’m not so sure that’s the case. In fact, I’d venture to guess that investors are the one group of people who are impartial about any degree — undergraduate or graduate. Is an MBA not worth much in the startup world?

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

May 4th, 2017

Unless it is a top tier (NYU/Harvard/Cornell/Yale or others), it will not. It is an advantage for relationships only. It will not harm, it will not distract investors, but it is not a requirement. Many successful founders did not have any degree. What does attract investors is the leadership and how smart the team is (not grades; intellect) and how well they appear to work together. I caution you that a person that is convinced an MBA or any advanced degree is the difference between a successful company and an unsuccessful company will be dangerous.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

May 6th, 2017

Like good lawyers and bad lawyers, having a law degree doesn't indicate talent. It just means you went through the basics and understand the language of law. MBAs are similar. You can get an MBA by barely going to any classes and paying enough money, even online. It doesn't mean you had a practical experience, know what you're doing, or any talent at fixing business issues. Yes, some folks care about the pedigree of paper, but unless the MBA is accompanied by previous executive success, then it really doesn't mean anything more than they've at least been exposed to the ideas behind running a business.

Keep in mind that there are 6 basic business skills. Almost no business owner ever masters more than 2. So that leaves them to hire and supervise the other skills required to succeed. Yes, the business owner still needs to be familiar with the other areas enough to know when something is going wrong. But the MBA by itself is just a trust document, not an indication of skill level.

Would you rather hire an MBA straight out of school or would you rather hire someone with no degree who has been in executive management of other successful companies in your industry for the last 10 years?

This is another illustration of how a resume can only tell you what someone has done or what someone was asked to do, not anything about what their capacity is.