David Beatty is founder of www.refer.me, a new platform connecting friends to make and receive referrals; currently available as a website, refer.me also has an iPhone app under development.
Startup kick start, the alumni effect
I was thinking about which specific course from the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA program helped me the most with getting my Internet startup off the ground, and it proved a difficult choice. Many subjects together with inspirational professors came to mind, such as the Venture Capital elective held in Tel Aviv University, Israel, and the Entrepreneurial Finance elective held at the Kellogg campus in Florida, as well as some great core subjects taught in Hong Kong.
However, I could not pinpoint a single course that was more beneficial to me than the impact of the alumni network. For me, in the startup business, connections, strategy advice, honest feedback, inspiration and support are critical components of finding a winning business model and building a new business. These things can all come from an excellent alumni network.
Fortunately, the alumni network from the Kellogg-HKUST program is strong, and there are over 600 accomplished graduates willing to help. I especially rely on my friends from my graduating class of 2011. There is also the wider HKUST business school alumni network, and the Kellogg school of management alumni network. Just this morning I spoke with a Kellogg alum in Silicon Valley about strategy, funding and investor introductions for an upcoming refer.me trip to California. On a daily basis, it would be rare for me not to interact with one or more alumni.
Finally, there’s an even wider network of Kellogg partner schools, so choosing an elective in a location such as Tel Aviv University opens up even more connections. Personally, due to the strong connection between Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley these connections are some of the most valuable for my business.
In summary, individual classes were highly beneficial, but maintaining and tapping in to your alumni network could be the most important thing to gain from an Executive MBA program.