The MIT School of Entrepreneurship
The following is the first of a two part interview. The first part sees me talking with Jonathan Lehrich, the MIT EMBA Program Director, about the start-ups that have emerged from their class and how they support students in starting up a new venture. Jonathan is one of the creators and Program Director of the MIT Executive MBA. Mr. Lehrich championed many other initiatives at MIT Sloan prior to creating the MIT Executive MBA, including the Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) and China Lab and India Lab programs. He is a 2005 graduate of MIT Sloan, and holds degrees from Harvard and the University of Chicago.
How important is creating a start-up to trying out the things you're teaching students?
We think it is very important for students to apply what they learn. There is great value and learning in starting a company or leading a change initiative in an existing company. The EMBA program provides an environment in which students actively apply what they learn both to start-ups and to established organizations. Some students come to the program from start-ups and are facing challenges of growth and scalability. Other students come to the program with ambitions to tap MIT's resources to start a company of their own. Still others are leaders in more established firms that are actively acquiring and incubating businesses.
A central part of the EMBA curriculum is the Innovation Driven Entrepreneurial Advantage (IDEA) module. The module combines projects with an MIT start-up with panels and speakers from across MIT to deepen the student relationship with the MIT ecosystem. Students take away a deep understanding of the mechanics and practices of new product innovation, entrepreneurial strategy, and developing entrepreneurial advantage.
Are lessons from each start-up fed back into the class so that both those involved in the start-up and their fellow students can learn?
Yes. For example, during the IDEA module students work with a start-up at MIT and help them develop a strategic partnership with a large company. In this context students build off of what they are learning in the program to shape the strategic direction of the company and accelerate its growth. The EMBA students share these projects with each other and learn lessons from a variety of industries and product segments. Throughout the program there is a heavy emphasis on applied learning projects. These projects provide a rapid feedback loop for the students both to accelerate learning from their own projects and to learn from the experience of their classmates’ projects. These lessons are shared through frequent project presentation and class discussions.Continued on the next page