Experiential Education in Entrepreneurship

This article first appeared in Boston Inno, the greater Boston/Cambridge ecosystem’s leading digital publication for all things entrepreneurship, innovation, design and venture capital. ( see bit.ly/1k0sN5d)

The Business Approach to Business Education: Why Hult Is at the Forefront of Entrepreneurship in Higher Education

Students graduating from business schools and becoming investment bankers or strategy consultants are being replaced with those pursuing careers as startup CEOs and venture capitalists.

Colleges and universities across Boston have evolved to meet this need by developing university-run accelerators and incubators, and tailoring curriculum to include entrepreneurship courses. However, few schools embody entrepreneurship and innovation as an educational institute better than Hult International Business School.

Hult has been recognized for the innovative redesign of its one-year MBA program, runs an accelerator program churning out social impact startups, grooms entrepreneurial business minds through real-life business simulations and surrounds students with a world-class faculty and staff actively practicing in their respective industries in order to deliver the most relevant education.

“What you see from Hult is that an increasing number of our students have the courage of their own convictions to choose career paths as entrepreneurs right out of college,” said Mike Grandinetti, global professor of entrepreneurship, innovation and digital marketing at Hult.

Grandinetti is a prominent face in Boston’s startup/innovation community, and his students benefit from his connections at OpenIdeo, Startup Next and Techstars.

Here’s a sample of what his Hult students are exposed to:

In-class lectures given by top-level executives from HubSpot, Betaspring, Techstars and Dorm Room Fund

In-person pitches in front of Boston venture capitalists

Consultancy work for Boston startups to help develop digital marketing, social marketing and advertising strategies

Hackathons catered specifically for Hult students that allow them to design prototypes

This is all done to feed the growing desire of students aiming to make an impact through entrepreneurship and innovation.

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Hult Global Professor of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Digital Marketing Mike Grandinetti
“We’re only in November, and I can’t tell you how many students have approached me saying they have a business idea they are working on and asking if I can help them strategize around it,” Grandinetti said.

By providing students access to professors who are immersed in their industry and actively practicing their profession, Hult exposes them to career fields they might not have originally been interested in.

“I had one of my students come up to me after a prominent member of the startup community came in to speak, and she said ‘I came here thinking I wanted to work at a big company, but the more and more I learn and hear, I really want to go work at a startup,” Grandinetti recalled. “A lot of times, when people are exposed to the startup scene and culture, they become inspired.”

One such student who became exposed to the world of entrepreneurship and made it her career is Kristen Tyrrell.

Tyrrell graduated from Hult with a master’s in international business in 2011, and through her involvement with the Hult Prize — one of the world’s largest social impact accelerators in existence — she’s now the director of strategic operations for the program.

The Hult alum had not entertained the idea of pursuing a career in entrepreneurship before her graduate studies, but her experience quickly changed that.

“I went into Hult straight from my undergraduate studies, so I didn’t have much experience with entrepreneurship, and studying at Hult represented the first time I was given authority and autonomy to create, which was really exciting,” Tyrrell recalled.

To build her resume, Tyrrell reached out to one of her professors on the Hult London campus who used his connections to land her an opportunity to work on an innovation project for 3M.

“It was that support and attention that showed me entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily about being thrown out into the world by yourself, but more about leveraging networks and resources that exist around you,” Tyrrell said. “My exposure at 3M got me my first job at the IXL Center. Having faculty and administrators who have professional lives outside of academia is something that gives students opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

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Hult Prize Director of Strategic Operations Kristen Tyrrell
Tyrrell benefitted from Hult’s philosophy on employing active business professionals and entrepreneurs, and now she’s witnessing how Hult implements innovation itself to stay on the cutting edge of business education.

And that innovation is originating right here in Boston.

“It’s where Hult’s genesis started, and from those beginning principles, the campus and administration here have always been willing to try new things and iterate, innovate and experiment,” Tyrrell explained. “The Hult team here has always been willing to try things, and that’s allowed them, more than any other business schools, to move quickly, take chances, grow quickly and find things that work and don’t.”

The development of the Hult Prize has worked, and the venture has placed Hult at the forefront of promoting social entrepreneurship.

“Hult is really leading the way through the Hult Prize and other initiatives to show that social business is not separate; social business is business, and the idea that you are using principles of business to do good for the world is obvious,” Tyrrell said.

The Hult Prize runs a pipeline of social impact ventures through an annual cycle that starts with the Clinton Global Initiative issuing a challenge and 20,000-plus entrepreneurs seeking to find a solution. Eventually, six finalists attend a six-week accelerator program before competing in a final competition.

Tyrrell sums up the formula to Hult’s success by simply stating that the school takes a business perspective on the education field. It’s a simple approach, but entrepreneurship and innovation driving business, and Hult is using it to drive business education.