We’ve spoken to hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs who want to supercharge their startup journey with the right mix of skills, connections, and mentorship. There are some reoccurring questions they all ask about how to do it and how The University of Melbourne’s Master of Entrepreneurship can support them.
Watch the Facebook Live Q&A we hosted to answer the most burning questions, or read the summary article below, with our hosts:
1. Can entrepreneurship be taught?
Colin McLeod: “Most entrepreneurs don’t fail to start, they fail to grow. And they don’t fail to grow because they have bad ideas, they fail to grow because they can’t manage the business that houses that idea. It requires skills like understanding how to manage people, deal with investors, manage suppliers, craft marketing strategies, and construct and read financial statements. These are a teachable set of skills. You don’t always have to learn from your own mistakes. You can learn from other people’s.”
“Some people think that entrepreneurship is an innate talent. In any endeavour, there are people that are so ridiculously talented that they can do anything despite not having studied entrepreneurship – like the Richard Brandsons and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. But history tells us that most people aren’t like them. And we’ve all seen examples of how talent is overrated. You need skills around that talent. It’s also worth noting that a lot of successful entrepreneurs volunteer their valuable time teaching at leading universities, so clearly they think entrepreneurship is something that can be taught.”
2. What does the Master of Entrepreneurship look for in students?
Colin McLeod: “We’re about creating skills and we think skills are transferable between different entrepreneurial endeavours. We look for high-potential people with a broad horizon of what they want to do with their entrepreneurial idea, not just their current idea itself. We also look for that spark to establish businesses that creates environmental and social opportunities.”
Georgia McDonald: “We’re also looking for people with the skills we know we can’t teach for – appetite for risk, values and resilience. Many of our students started with an eBay hustle or side project and they come here to help them build bigger ideas. Our cohorts are made up of 40% with a STEMM background, four with PhDs, as well as backgrounds in marketing, communication, commerce, and the creative industries – filmmakers, actors, architects, fashion designers.”
“This diversity helps our students leapfrog ideas because people are looking at ideas from different angles. We’re really focused on building entrepreneurial capability, not just a specific idea. But if you’re going to learn entrepreneurship, you need to have some clay to work with. So, we’re looking for people who are bringing in ideas, but we’re not picking ‘winners’. We’re looking for the right mindset.”
3. What kind of people is studying entrepreneurship right for?
Georgia McDonald: “Learning entrepreneurship is beneficial for a range of people whether they be in the early stages of thinking about their startup ideas or looking to take their current business to the next level. Our program is for people looking for an intensive and structured educational experience. What you put in is what you get out, so it’s for people with ambitious visions who want to work hard.”
Colin McLeod: “Education is about developing skills. Often incubators and accelerators are about helping you commercialise your current idea. What we’re trying to do is develop the skills to help you come up with lots of ideas. Work out why they’re good ideas or not good ideas.”
“As human being we’re terrible at predicting what people will pay for. So how do you test if something is commercially viable, as opposed to an idea you’re passionate about and your mum and dad like. Nothing wrong with that, but that may not be a long-term career opportunity. Here, our students learn skills and about themselves to maximise their potential and chances of success.”
4. What’s the experience of studying the Master of Entrepreneurship like?
Colin McLeod: “Most of our students have told me this course it the hardest thing they’ve ever done. We want you to understand that being an entrepreneur is incredibly hard, so we’ve created an environment that will test you intellectually and emotionally. The same students who said it was the hardest thing they’ve ever done, came out the other end and said it was the best thing they’ve ever done.”
Georgia McDonald: “It’s a full-time job. You should be thinking about being here 40-50 hours a week for classes, assessments, and building out your startup. The network is also really important – so you need to develop it and that takes time and energy. Look at tonight, it’s Thursday night and we’re taking 30 of our students and alumni to the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship Dinner with Australia’s leading C-suite executives and industry leaders.”
5. What’s the program structure of The University of Melbourne’s Master of Entrepreneurship?
Colin McLeod: “We’re different from the typical university model of large number of students to a small number of academics – the ratio here is approximately 1:3 teachers to students. We’ve also designed an entrepreneurship course around best practice in entrepreneurship, consulting institutions well known for entrepreneurship – Stanford, Berkeley, Cambridge. Every subject is specific to an entrepreneur – marketing for early-stage business, HR for early-stage businesses, same with legal advice. All students get free legal advice from our partners Corrs Chambers Westgarth.”
Georgia McDonald: “The program includes ten core subjects and two electives to allow entrepreneurs to sharpen their skills in their area of choice. There’s an option for studying part time for those who are already working on their own businesses and don’t have the time to commit to the course full time. The full-time option involves classes 5 days a week from 10 am to 1pm, with 24hr access to Wade Institute facilities.”
6. What are the requirements to apply?
Georgia McDonald: “As a The University of Melbourne Master’s degree, you need to have an undergraduate degree in any discipline with a GPA equivalent to 65 (The University of Melbourne). The application is a three-step process:
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