MBA or Startup?

Microsoft ouija
Oct 17, 2018 10 Comments

My moonshot goal in life is to make a positive impact to the world. Since I am a software engineer, I want to do it thru building a great product that will help change lives.

The traditional route for me is to keep running in the hamster wheel and expect that someday I will be able to reach a level in which I can make the impact I so desire. I can speed it up moderately by getting an MBA and moving up the ladder.

A faster way to reach my goal is to start my own company. However, I feel super nervous to start one. Although, I co-founded an online media organization before, now I fully understand the exorbitantly high risk of failure and just stay risk averse.

Two other options come to mind, doing MS or PhD. I have a non-CS engineering MS degree. At times, I feel that the "imposter syndrom" maybe holding me back. However, I quickly realize that neither MS, nor PhD will take me closer to my goal.

What do you think is my best bet: just do an MBA and wait for my turn to make the impact, or take the risk of starting a company and at least try to make the impact right now? Why?

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TOP 10 Comments
  • MBA adds debt and debt reduces your appetite to take risks. It's the worst decision if you want to build a groundbreaking company that changes the world. Often with companies that want to change the world, the probability of success is low. Therefore, you'll almost never try to build something like that after your MBA. Maybe, if you want to build not such a groundbreaking, trendsetting company, an MBA could help in the long run. I'm an MBA and I tried building a groundbreaking company before my MBA and failed. I can't imagine attempting to build another similar one at this stage after I have just graduated from the MBA program.
    Oct 17, 2018 5
    • Oracle ldlepp3(
      See Zynga
      Oct 17, 2018
    • Moonshot? Positive impact on the "world"?
      Oct 17, 2018
    • Microsoft ouija
      OP
      Great comment! Thank you!

      Why did you choose to do an MBA, instead of trying another startup the second time? Given that what you know now, do you think you should gone directly for the MBA instead of trying the first startup?
      Oct 17, 2018
    • Well I had spent 5 years running the company and there was massive disruption in the industry. A second startup meant I would need balls of steel which I clearly didn't have then.

      About going in directly for an MBA versus starting a company really depends on where you are in life and what you want. I can tell you that an honest attempt at building a company teaches you a ton of stuff first-hand, especially if you have the right mentorship. After my startup, coming into the MBA, I had a lot of instances to relate to and reflect on how I could've done things differently. Had I come into the MBA directly, I'd most likely be one of those folks who die to get in consulting, investment banking, or product management because that's all they see and it is fair because everyone has their own goals.

      The MBA will definitely refine your thinking and better equip you with skills to build a business, but it will take away the risk appetite from you. Unfortunately, it will also teach you to think rationally, because of which you'll not be crazy enough to think that you can change the world. You have to be crazy enough to think that you can change the world, the MBA takes that away from you.

      "People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."
      -Steve Jobs
      Oct 17, 2018
    • Oracle ldlepp3(
      Op is trying to take a moonshot also, what's the prob
      Oct 19, 2018
  • Amazon Xbcbdhxhxh
    As an MBA myself, I think going with the startup is the better option. The mba has much more value if you want to go down a well trodden path. Otherwise I don’t think it’s worth the debt.
    Oct 18, 2018 0
  • You could join a startup, a small one. Grow with it for a couple of years. Learn the tricks of the trade, build connections and then start your own company. Before doing a startup it is a great idea to work with one from scratch. You will get to know what type of problems one can face and how do you overcome those problems.
    Oct 18, 2018 0
  • Oracle ldlepp3(
    What kind of positive impact
    Oct 17, 2018 1
    • Microsoft ouija
      OP
      I have an autistic son. After we suffered through this I am motivated to make other’s life better. My dream goal would be to make a product for special kids and families.

      But I thought thru this and I think it’s difficult to make a viable business out of it. I think generally speaking, and without giving away few ideas that I thought about, I am thinking about any product that makes people’s life better.
      Oct 17, 2018

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