We’ve finally started moving on one of the most interesting parts of the Weekend MBA – the Entrepreneurship Journey (EJ). I can’t say this was something that appealed when I first applied to Imperial, but it’s an idea that’s grown on me. Everyone seems to have a certain pre-conceived idea of what they want to get out of the MBA and yet that idea can change over time. If you’d asked me a year ago if I wanted to start a company? Forget it. Now though… now it could be interesting. It doesn’t seem as difficult as it used to.
For the EJ, we form a small group and then decide which problem our business is going to solve. Then, over several months, we put together a business plan with support from Imperial and are assessed on how viable that plan is. To whet our appetite (it’s an optional module), a few teams from previous years were brought in to show their ideas. They’re the successful ones of course (who’d want to present a bad idea?) – those who have taken that idea further, applied for funding and turned it into a real business.
Forming a team was quite tricky since it can be a mixture of Weekend and Executive MBAs. We went for all WMBA team members. Since we’re part-time students spread across countries, our evenings are already filled with conference calls talking to each other on assignments – working with a team on a different schedule just felt like a step too far. A step we still had to take, since some of our team members needed to be designers from the Royal College of Art (RCA) across the street.
Choosing who we’d work with from the RCA was an awkward experience to begin with. The designers I spoke to were expecting MBAs to have many years of experience and not be too interested in what they had to say. From our perspective, or at least mine, we had a rather naive impression of designers. Perhaps we should stop having pre-conceived ideas. The RCA group turned out to be just as professional and dedicated as ourselves, while we’re not as arrogant as they expected. I hope.
The designers are studying something called ‘Service Design’. They need to study it for a year, while we spent one Saturday stumbling around the V&A covering our faces with Zaina’s hat. The idea was to gain insights into how a museum experience for the visually-impaired could be improved. That process of putting yourself into other people’s shoes just seems to be the main point of service design (definitely not arrogant) and how their lives could be improved.
So now we’re a team of six: Patrick, Teo, Laura and myself from Imperial along with JeeYoon and Xiaosu (Sue) from the RCA. There’s always the temptation to build a homogenous team with people from the same background yet we’ve gone the opposite way, all from different backgrounds and nationalities. JeeYoon and Sue study in London full-time, Teo and Laura part-time yet often are in London, while I live in Cambridge and Patrick in Austria. All we need to now is to find a way to work together regularly and develop our ideas. Should be simple, right?