How can an MBA help you become a founder?

A guest post by Wendy Xiao '15, Co-Founder of CoHatchery, & CEO's VP of Specialized Events

“Don’t get an MBA if you really want to start a company.” Many aspiring entrepreneurs have probably heard this just as I did when I was thinking about my next steps after management consulting. There is some logic to this argument: an MBA is expensive; you should be executing rather than studying; you can’t teach entrepreneurship… etc. However, (at the risk of sounding cliché) my journey with founding CoHatchery has taught me that specifically an MBA at Columbia gave me the exactly the right tools to get this thing off the ground.

Upon entering the J-term class of 2016, I had no idea what type of business I would start, but I started by joining every entrepreneurship club (including CEO, where now I serve as VP of Specialized Events) and taking all of the intro to entrepreneurship classes (Launch Your Startup and Intro to Venturing are both good classes to practice idea development). I got my feet wet and cold-emailed a NY-based startup for a part-time internship, where I learned that the GSB email opens many doors. Over the summer, I did a little soul searching in PLS (quite literally), and found my idea. I met my partner, Susann Friedrich in a brand building class where we practiced working together on a final project and liked the result. I learned about fundraising in Entrepreneurial Finance with Dean Hubbard, and customer discovery in Lean Launchpad with Steve Blank. We even incorporated through the law firm whose partner taught our Angel/VC Deals: Gut-driven Tech Investing and Entrepreneurial Law class. We practiced our pitch with our peers at our J-Term Pitch night and New Product Development. Through a CEO event, we met the founders of RentTheRunway who agreed to host a pilot with us in their offices. We also met with many executives in residences along the way and built a network of angel and VC investors through our classes and clubs. Seed Stage Investing with Angela Lee and VC Seminar with Will and Stuart taught us about the hard and soft sides of the investor ecosystem. One of our first formal advisers is our Real Estate Entrepreneurship (also great class) professor Joe Azrack, who also supervised our independent study project for CoHatchery in the fall. We applied to and were accepted by both Greenhouse and IE @ Columbia (but only joined Greenhouse), where we continue to learn from the amazing speakers from the wider NYC startup ecosystem. We are also contenders in Fall Venture Fair, Shark Tank, Columbia Venture Competition, Tamer Social Venture Competition, and the Spring Venture Fair…

This is starting to sound like a laundry list and I have not even comprehensively mentioned all of the resources we took advantage of here at Columbia. Truly there are so so SO many instances where Columbia has and will continue to support us and CoHatchery. If we weren’t a co-working company we would definitely be working out of the Start-up Lab next year.

CoHatchery is now more than just an idea. We have over 300 people on our wait list, and we are joining forces with co-working spaces across Manhattan to launch co-working with childcare. We have been published in the local press several times, and we are well on our way to launching our first full location by the end of 2016.