AGSM MBA students to help kick-start start-ups

New businessStudents at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) will help Sydney-based start-up companies tackle strategic business issues in a new initiative offered as part of the AGSM MBA program.

During the 12 week Entrepreneurship and Strategy course, MBA students from the AGSM at UNSW Australia will partner with start-up companies, immersing the student in an entrepreneurial business.

The business will pose a strategic problem, and the role of the student is to formulate a strategy and kick off the implementation, all the while being immersed in the start-up’s culture and environment. At the end of the course, the student will be required to present the solution in front of an assessment panel, as well as provide a structured report to the CEO of the company.

AGSM is in the process of recruiting start-ups for the program. Companies are eligible to participate if they are more than two years old, have a team of at least three people, are not based in a home and, most importantly, are willing to engage with a student. There is no cost at all to the start-up.

Director of the Entrepreneurship and Strategy course, Dr Jeffrey Tobias, says this idea came from his years of experience in both the MBA program and the broader Sydney entrepreneurial community.

“Traditionally my assessment for this subject was the development of a business plan, but if you take the lean and agile model, you don’t necessarily prepare a traditional business plan anymore. It’s about immersion, about doing rather than talking” says Tobias, who is adjunct faculty at AGSM while also running his own consulting company and an active angel investor.

“Immersing people in real life environments with real strategic problems is the best way to get them involved in entrepreneurship.”

Tobias says they’ve had more than 20 applications from start-ups since launching the program last week.

“The thing a lot of start-ups lack is that they’re good at the innovation but not so good at basic business skills such as strategy, commercial negotiation, HR, marketing fundamentals and finance. MBA students are good at these, but they often haven’t been exposed to an entrepreneurial environment before. Put them together, it’s a win-win!” Tobias says.

The program is supported by Grand Prix Capital, the Sydney Seed Fund and the Founder Institute, although no financial support is provided from these entities.

“The links between AGSM and the start-up community are very positive and we’re really keen to foster and grow them. We’ve had huge enthusiasm from the investment community, and from someone like Google who said, yes, we want to be part of this,” Tobias says. “If you want to start your own business, and now is a great time, do an MBA at AGSM first”.

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (