If you ever wondered what the standard stages of a startup’s lifecycle are, sources will give you something along the following lines:
- First, there is Seed and Development. At this stage, you have an idea which you are eager to make into a business, and you direct your efforts at honing that idea.
- In the second stage – after enough confidence and faith have filled the air – you launch the startup.
- You then establish and grow your business, with rounds of additional funding and, hopefully, with a constant stream of new clients who are enthusiastic to use your service or buy your product.
- Next, you expand all the way to building a mature, healthy business, at which point you may consider “exiting” the business by selling it or even floating your “baby” in an open market.
What those sources may not tell you is that there is another possible stage in the lifecycle – the one which can be called the “MBA Helpline”. Every year at IMD, a group of startups are carefully selected to work exclusively with the MBA participants. It’s one of those situations where everyone wins. If you are a startup, you are paired with six young, ambitious, driven MBAs, whose mission is to add real value to your company. If you are an MBA, you get exposed to real businesses with real challenges in real time. Your team’s actions will have direct impact on the startup’s future, be it a growth strategy, new market entry, business (re)modelling or whatever may help a business be stronger.
On January 30th, the IMD MBA class of 2020 officially launched their Startup Projects. We have been split into 15 teams of six and paired with 15 startups. The startups are as diverse as one can imagine: pumps, e-bike transmissions, payments, video production, bioscience, drones, and worms. (Uh, what? Worms? – Yes. Can’t tell you more, unfortunately, but believe me – it’s super cool!)
The greatest part of the challenge is that this is not a consulting assignment. MBAs are not there to give advice from the height of their academic achievements. On the contrary, we will roll up our sleeves and work shoulder-to-shoulder with startup founders and CEOs, tackling the issues of “today and now”. And there shall be nowhere to hide, because at the end of the project, we will be graded on one criterion: how useful we were to the business.
It’s on! As philosopher Jagger once put it, “kick the starter up – give it all you got!”