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ENTREPRENEURSHIP@ Haas: MBA Grads Seek Entrepreneurial Ventures in Record Numbers

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The Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley shared employment statistics for its full-time MBA Class of 2015 earlier this month, revealing that a record number of graduating MBAs are actively pursuing their own ventures straight out of school. This year, 31 graduates—representing 12.5 percent of the class—are launching startups ranging from platforms for on-demand health services, global money transfer and student loans to a financial instrument designed to help fight drought and wildfires.

Last year, just six grads set out to launch their own ventures immediately upon graduation. The five-fold increase in student founders, combined with another 14.5 percent of 2015 grads who took jobs at startups, “reflects the growing strength of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Haas, UC Berkeley and the Bay Area,” according to a Haas press release.

Leo Popov, MBA 15, shared that Haas’s entrepreneurial environment and resources were the most important reason he chose where to pursue his MBA. “I was 100 percent sure that I want to start my company in the short or medium future, but I needed the skills and knowledge to do so,” he said in a statement. Among the resources that he cited as helping him most were the MBA program’s electives and applied innovation courses, the LAUNCH startup competition, the school’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Skydeck, a business incubator jointly supported by UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering, the Haas School and the Vice Chancellor for Research Office.

Popov, together with business partner Bimohit Bawa, MBA 16, in October launched TrueCare24, a digital health smartphone app that gives users access to urgent care clinicians who make house calls and offer 24/7 phone consultations. The two met in Haas Lecturer Steve Blank’s Lean LaunchPad course and worked on their startup idea throughout the rest of the program.

Source: UC Berkeley-Haas infographic

“In my previous job I didn’t have any experience with about 60 percent of the tasks I am doing currently,” Popov said. “All these skills are newly acquired at Haas or UC Berkeley. The most inspiring resources for me are the success stories of my peers and Haas alumni who dared to start their own ventures, and within several years built amazing companies.”

In addition to sharp upticks in entrepreneurship and social impact, the most recent Haas employment report also reveals rising salaries for the school’s MBA grads. Average starting salaries were $123,043, with average signing bonuses of $28,000 and other compensation averaging $26,000. The median starting salary, $125,000, represents a 4 percent increase from $120,000 last year.

Julie Min Hwang, assistant dean of the MBA Career Management Group and corporate engagement, noted that it was a strong class and that recruiter interest was high. “We’ve found that recruiters seek out Haas grads for culture fit—they are known for being leaders with innovative problem solving and team-building skills, and for having confidence without attitude,” she said in a statement. The school’s Bay Area location—home to many top employers—is also a boon.

Even amid the growth in students pursuing non-traditional careers, 40 percent of the school’s 248 graduates headed off to the more traditional MBA industries of consulting and financial services. Tech drew another 38 percent. Healthcare, energy, consumer products and real estate were the next most popular industries among 2015 Haas grads. Notably, more than 12 percent of graduates reported taking jobs with a social impact component.


Entrepreneurship@In other entrepreneurship news at Haas, the school has recently welcomed a new Center for Entrepreneurship & Development in the Middle East, the school reported earlier this month. The center—created to conduct research, develop educational materials and conferences and offer policy recommendations for entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa region—was formerly affiliated with the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. Founder and Director Dariush Zahedi approached Dean Rich Lyons in May, thinking Haas’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation might be a better strategic fit for the center. Lyons agreed and invited it to join the Institute for Business Innovation at Berkeley-Haas.

“We felt that the proper location for the center is within the business school because we’re promoting entrepreneurship,” Zahedi said in a statement. “The dean has been so helpful and supportive.”

Learn more about the new center’s move to Haas.