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Business School Competitions Give Startups a Boost

MBA students can get feedback on business ideas from professors when competing.

Experts suggest students compete in groups to better manage the work required in starting a new business.
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Competing as a new MBA candidate can be a challenge, though, says Theroux.

"The students have very little flexibility in their schedules. They're quite booked up with classes and other activities," he says. Their second-year schedules may allow more time for the demands of a competition.

3. Are there ways to balance a competition with academic obligations? Competitions can be intense and require a great deal of time, experts say. Students can do a number of things to make sure they balance their time appropriately.

"We try to solve that problem by offering courses in which they can work on their various business ideas in the context of the course," says Theroux, such as in University of Massachusetts' technology management class. .

Sreshta worked on LuminAID in the course that accompanied her contest at Booth and in a class on entrepreneurial selling with some of her classmates.

One of the best ways to avoid becoming overwhelmed is to divvy up the workload, says Bourassa-Shaw at University of Washington.

Many school competitions allow students to compete as individuals or teams, but experts say working with a group is usually the better option.

"People trade off in terms of their responsibilities," she says. It's important to establish priorities, she says, and serious entrepreneurs learn to do this.

"Their course work is their startup," she says, "and their startup is their social life."

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