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Why a Degree in Entrepreneurship Could Help You Start Up

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Sponsored by the University of Warwick

Meet Takis Malavetas and Gregor Tuertenschaller: two wide-eyed entrepreneurs from Greece and Austria, who met at the University of Warwick on an MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship where they discovered a shared interest in e-grocery delivery. Their business, HomeRun, now delivers groceries for the likes of Tesco, Marks & Spencer and WholeFoods.

Takis and Gregor stayed on after graduation to develop their business: Warwick provided them with the contacts, salaries and working spaces they needed to start up, and Christian Lerke, a student from Germany joined them as technical partner. The trio delivered to students on campus to learn about the business and later got invited to Y-Combinator, the most prestigious startup incubator in the world, based in Silicon Valley. After angel and investor funding they are  now successfully running a business in London, where they have grown to employ over 10 people.

The success story of how HomeRun came to be is by no means exceptional. Dhruv Jain, a 24-year-old from New Delhi in India, launched PrintOctopus, an e-commerce platform helping Indian designers earn money through printed merchandise, after studying Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Warwick. He said: "My supervisor worked as an e-commerce consultant, so what he taught me was real and practical. I could bounce ideas off him and he kept me thoroughly grounded. What’s really interesting is how my business plan evolved during the year. By the end of the course, it was completely different to how it was when I started.”

Being an entrepreneur is tough, with nine out of 10 startups failing, with a lack of good mentorship and business-specific knowledge in finance, operations and sales & marketing often the main culprits.

CB Insights recently combed through 101 post-mortem essays published on Medium by founders to reveal that 42 percent of startups failed because there was no market need for their product. A rookie mistake that could easily have been avoided with proper research, training and guidance. Could further training in entrepreneurship be the answer? 

Experts running the University of Warwick’s MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship seem to think so. As Jay Bal, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Warwick, explained to us, the number of skills needed to be up to the job of starting a business can be quite dizzying: from the latest in tech to human resources, marketing strategy, supply chain and logistics management, not to mention accounting and finance, you need to have a finger in every pie. Even if you are going to recruit talent and get involved in only a few of these disciplines yourself, you should be able to have critical discussions with experts about all areas of business using the correct domain language. This is a key focus of a master's degree in entrepreneurship, ensuring you gain a broad overview of many different disciplines as well as the business terminology you’ll need to thrive.

Refine your business proposition

Idealistic rookie entrepreneurs will often make the mistake of assuming that customers will simply buy their products. Attracting new customers remains one of the biggest challenges for startups today, and having constructive customer feedback and an infallible business plan will go a long way towards helping you hit your targets.

Entrepreneurship often runs in the veins, with many students who want to start their own business and study a master’s program coming from a family business background. If that family business connection exists, a good entrepreneur should build on those firm foundations and understand their best chance of success lies in growing a new business out from the family business, rather than starting from scratch. The University of Warwick’s MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship encourages and supports students in following this path if appropriate, by investigating the transformation of their family business.

That’s the rationale behind the year-long final project featured in the Warwick’s MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which is worth 50 percent of your final mark. It involves developing a business idea with an eye to launching it at the end of the course. Students come up with their own idea and a member of staff will mentor them through the process.

The University of Warwick also offers bespoke startup advice to students and runs a small business support service that can help link students with many businesses in the region so they can get work experience in design, marketing, finance or human resources, while resolving day-to-day issues. There are also opportunities at Warwick for students to test their products on small businesses in the region so they are able to refine their business propositions, compile customer satisfaction data and build a financial track record before they graduate.  

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