Are you itching to start your own company and wondering whether an MBA in entrepreneurship can help you achieve that dream? Entrepreneurship is a hugely popular course of study at elite business schools. Stacy Blackman herself is a serial entrepreneur, and SBC supports young professionals aspiring towards careers with purpose, passion, and meaning.
Today, we’re sharing insights from entrepreneur and current Kellogg School of Management student Karen Desai. She is a former SBC client who partnered with senior admissions consultant Caryn for comprehensive services. Karen’s advice couldn’t have come at a better time.
Young professionals, and especially women of Asian and South Asian cultural origin, need to hear her affirming message of “Just go for it.”
As her SBC consultant shares, “Karen’s rich background of unique experiences enabled us to put forth compelling insights of what she could add to her MBA program. I was so thrilled that Kellogg recognized her strong potential and can’t wait to see her future successes!”
Karen’s reflections on the MBA application process and her professional journey will surely inspire future entrepreneurs. Enjoy!
Is an MBA in entrepreneurship on your radar? Are you curious about what programs are right for you? Request a free analysis of your MBA candidacy here.
You recently launched an entrepreneurial endeavor, after which you applied for the MBA at Kellogg. You wrote in your Kellogg essays about how this is the ideal time to attain the MBA degree. What inspired you to take your entrepreneurial vision to the MBA program at Kellogg?
My company LUKH is an online rental service dedicated to making South Asian fashion accessible and affordable in the U.S. I launched the company in early 2020, and the momentum with customers and potential investors was exciting. However, once the pandemic hit, events were postponed, customers canceled dress orders, and investors became hesitant.
Initially, I panicked and considered getting another job. However, the time given to me during the pandemic allowed me to step back and self-reflect on what I could do to effectively grow my entrepreneurship skills and develop as a leader.
I decided there was no time like the present to attain an MBA. I view the Kellogg MBA as my vehicle to personally grow and professionally relaunch LUKH in a post-COVID world.
Coming with seven years of marketing experience, I had followed and loved the marketing professors and courses Kellogg offered. And most importantly, I was excited by the entrepreneurship pathway’s courses (new venture development, new venture launch, and the famous class launching and leading start-ups taught by Carter Cast). I really wanted to learn these course concepts and apply them first hand to my business.
How do you view the MBA at Kellogg as supportive of your entrepreneurial growth?
As a young start-up founder, the expert guidance from Kellogg’s entrepreneurship program and professors immediately attracted me. I was looking for mentorship and entrepreneurial support and felt I could find that through Kellogg’s initiatives, including the Zell Fellowship, The Garage, Kellogg’s entrepreneurship organization, and the Kellogg Innovation and Entrepreneurship program.
As planned, I am now co-running my business while directly applying my learnings from the Kellogg MBA experience in real-time.
Did your application efforts help refine your professional plans so you could start Kellogg with greater focus? If so, how?
Writing my application and working with Caryn empowered me to self-reflect and better understand what was most important to me and why. It helped me realize that I have a true love for marketing. But what really excites me is entrepreneurship and learning from the success of other business owners and venture capital firms.
Business school can be fast-paced and overwhelming, with so many class options and extracurriculars to try. It can be easy to lose sight of what you came to school for.
As a result, I find it incredibly valuable to read my application at least once a quarter to remember why I’m here and what I hope to achieve in my short time here.
Have you met with other entrepreneurs at Kellogg yet? Do you have a sense of how common entrepreneurial aspirations are for the students at Kellogg? Have you heard of professors with start-up interests?
As a resident of The Garage, a member of the Kellogg Entrepreneurship Organization, and a student in the Entrepreneurship launch-pad courses, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, brainstorm, and commiserate with many other entrepreneurs at Kellogg.
We may be focused on different industries or business models, but we are all going through similar challenges, especially during COVID. Consumer behaviors and investor relations are unpredictable right now, and I’m so grateful to have a community to navigate all of this through.
Your journey, including your LUKH start-up, has been inspired by cultural awareness. Tell us about how cultural understanding is influencing your Kellogg experience so far.
I am a first-generation South Asian, and my parents immersed me in the culture while growing up. That exposure fueled my passion for Indian dance, music, holidays, and more. This is what inspired my entrepreneurial spirit for LUKH. I am grateful to draw from my heritage to democratize South Asian culture by guiding consumers of all different backgrounds to find the perfect outfit to wear to Indian wedding festivities.
So far at Kellogg, I have experienced many exciting cultural events through clubs and making friends from all around the world. This spring, I’m looking forward to LUKH running a fashion show as part of India Business Club’s Bollywood bash.
In refining my LUKH business goals since starting Kellogg, I was able to do a lot of hypothesis testing in my New Venture Development class. I learned that most of my customers are non-Indian, so offering a service to provide cultural guidance really resonates. As a result, moving forward, I hope that LUKH will be not only a rental service for fashion but also a cultural concierge service.
What general advice do you have for applicants who seek an MBA in entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is what you make of it. If you take classes, you’ll learn how to do customer discovery, hypothesis test, build a financial model, and effectively market your business. The courses teach you the fundamental concepts and offer success/failure stories for learning.
However, it’s really up to you to take it a step further. I would encourage anyone pursuing an MBA in entrepreneurship to spend time networking with other entrepreneurs in their class as well as with alumni. That’s the best way to learn and find opportunities to grow.
Do you have any specific advice for young start-up founders who want to use the MBA to launch, relaunch, or grow?
To me, the best time to start running a business is while getting your MBA. It’s a safe two years, and you should be taking risks! Take as many courses as you can and network as much as possible with fellow entrepreneurs and professors.
Then, apply your learnings from class in real-time to your business. And I think it’s crucial to remember that it’s okay to fail or to pivot because it’s all a learning experience in these two years.
Thank you so much, Karen for sharing your MBA in entrepreneurship story with our readers! Curious what MBA programs are right for you? Request a free analysis of your MBA candidacy here.