IBD -> HF -> startup -> MBA at HBS / GSB / UPenn?

BobbybananamA's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,079

I did 2 years at an elite boutique then 2 years at a fairly elite buy-side shop. If I start a company that isn't successful, how will MBA programs view me after the startup vs. now? Would I have to get a "normal" job after the startup to be able to get references or look OK for an MBA? I am mainly talking about HBS / Stanford / Wharton.

The concern I have is that I am 27 now, so if I do a startup for 2 years, then I will be 29. If it's true that I need a "normal" job before I can have references for HBS / Stanford / Wharton, then that will put me at 31 at the time I attend, which is on the very older end of most MBA classes. I am concerned that I will be too old and will have to get an executive MBA.

Comments (8)

Jun 4, 2019

what type of startup?

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Jun 5, 2019

there's a few different ideas I'd try with the run-way I have saved, but the most promising is a health-related technology company.

Jun 5, 2019


WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Most Helpful
Jun 5, 2019

I went to one of the schools above. Given your background, I say that you probably stand an equal chance of getting in today versus two years from now with startup experience. Unless you start the next FB, adcom will not really care if you successfully exit your startup or if it fails. What adcom cares about is what you learned from the experience. If your startup fails, then talk about the life lessons that the experience taught you and how it will in turn make you successful in the future (e.g., eating humble pie, picking yourself up, not giving up). Regardless of what happens to your startup, you just have to create a story that coherently weaves together all of your experiences and how that segues into your future goals.

You also do not need to get a "normal" job afterwards if your startup fails just to get recommendations. I don't know how many references bschools require today, but you would just need to get one from banking and one from your HF. I think I got a third recommendation from an extracurricular activity that I was involved with.

That said, while I don't think that getting into bschool will be a problem, returning to HF after all this could be. Some people might look at your resume and call into question how serious you are about investing. Put differently, how many successful HF investors do you know left the industry to try their hand at something completely unrelated to investing during the prime of their career? Meanwhile, the next person in the pile of resumes is someone who is actually deeply passionate about investing and could not imagine doing anything else. In the end, I'm sure you will be fine, but just something to think about.

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Jun 5, 2019

Thanks that's really helpful. I hope that's true. You're probably right that it will call my interest in investing into question (as it should).

Jun 18, 2019

Why not apply to business school right now, and build the startup while there? You can find co-founders, early employees, a network of customers/partners/investors, and time to experiment on ideas without the clock officially ticking. Schools also often give considerable grant money for projects.

It also solves your worry of being too old for an MBA. If the startup doesn't seem like it will work out, you can always jump to another buyside role post-MBA. If it does seem like it will work, you can raise a funding round after the degree.

    • 2
Jun 26, 2019

I strongly disagree with the advice above. Startup while in biz school is a certain way to not get the most out of either experience (and your startup will likely fail). Being an adult implies making choices. Sometimes you cant have it all.

Jun 27, 2019