Successful Conclusion of Tsinghua-MIT Global MBA Entrepreneurial Strategy Course

The 4-day long Entrepreneurial Strategy Course Phase 3 of Tsinghua-MIT Global MBA Program came to a successful end on May 15, 2014. After taking the Course Phase 1 Choosing an Entrepreneurial Strategy this February and making a field trip to 8 enterprises for Phase 2 this April, the Global MBA students, under the guidance of Professor Pierre Azoulay from MIT Sloan, have come back to classroom and risen to the challenge of Scaling up the Venture, which includes an in-depth analysis of 8 enterprises' entrepreneurial strategies based on what they have learned in the past 3 months as well as a field research results display of these enterprises' strategic choice and development.

 Tsinghua-MIT Global MBA Entrepreneurial Strategy Course is a signature module of Global MBA Program co-launched by Tsinghua SEM and MIT Sloan. The course adopts an innovative "Sandwich" model which combines the three elements of interactive lecturing, case study and field trip of entrepreneurial enterprises into one. Guided by professors from both Tsinghua and MIT, students meet the core-challenge of entrepreneurship and innovation, and reflect on how to select and implement the best entrepreneurial strategy.  

For Phase 1, Professor Scott Stern, Chair of the Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management Group at MIT Sloan, lectured on Entrepreneurial Strategic Choice. According to Professor Stern, at the beginning of their business, entrepreneurs have to make choices from two dimensions: "control-implement" and "compete-cooperate" with vested interests in the industry. How entrepreneurs make transition from a niche market in an earlier stage to a mass market in a later one depends on the maturity of the industry and the choices of the two dimensions made by entrepreneurs themselves. Professor Stern encourages entrepreneurs to size up the timing and situation so as to design an entirely new strategic model for their own enterprises.

 

Students visit the Headquarter of Brand "LAI", Shangze International Fashion Co. Ltd.  

For Phase 2, under the guidance from Professor GAO Xudong, Global MBA students visited 8 enterprises located in Beijing in groups, covering industries including fashion, education, manufacture etc. Through this field trip and discussion with entrepreneurs, students learned about the difficulties and challenges an enterprise may encounter from the very beginning throughout its development stages; and explored the strategic choices and limitations for enterprises in current situations with professionals.

 
Professor GAO Xudong and students visit the Headquarter of CreditEase

 For Phase 3, Professor Pierre Azoulay from MIT Sloan lectured on Scaling up the Venture. The most common mistake made by entrepreneurs, according to Professor Azoulay, is that they are too desperate to achieve too many goals, resulting in the dilution of the already limited resources. There are many new technologies titled with "disruptive technologies" and many enterprises aspiring to become "platforms", but their strategies often neglect some important elements that are essential to achieve "disruption" and "platform", such as good timing, geographic convenience and good interpersonal network. In order to strengthen and upgrade enterprises, entrepreneurs must have a clear understanding of the competitors and clients in the industry so that they can make pragmatic and efficient development strategy. By using cases of Le Petit Chef, Netflix and Ministry of Supply, Professor Azoulay further analyzed in-depth how entrepreneurs should make choices between the two dimensions of "control-implement" and "compete-cooperate".       

 
Professor Azoulay lectures on entrepreneurial strategic upgrading

At the last session of the course, students in 8 groups presented their research results on the enterprises they had visited with Professor GAO and Professor Azoulay. They used the strategic model learned in the past 3 months to analyze the strategic choices made by these enterprises, and proposed their own suggestions according to these enterprises’' future development strategy. 

At the conclusion of the course, Saman Farid (IMBA 2013 Class) said "Based on my own experience in starting a business, I think entrepreneurs, at the beginning of their business, due to various limitations, spend most of their time merely solving pragmatic problems. While this course provided us with some systematic tools so that we could consider the real strategy in a new level, such as how to position yourself, how to deal with product details, how to use limited resources effectively, how to understand competitive environment and how to position a cooperative company, etc. These knowledge could help us to avoid sightless product development and market expansion. I benefited a lot from this course."

Both Professor Stern and Professor Azoulay speak highly of this course and Tsinghua MBA students, and they look forward to teaching this course for Tsinghua Global MBA Program next year.