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Part 2: Is a Degree in Entrepreneurship Really Worth It?

In part 1 of our “Is a Degree In Entrepreneurship Really Worth It?” series, we interviewed two alumni of university entrepreneurship programs.  We wanted to better understand how their Alma mater contributed to their success as a business owner plus uncover any regrets.  To give you some more insight into the value of university entrepreneurship programs, we interviewed two more alumni and here is what they had to say:

Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments, attended University of Washington, Foster School of Business, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

1. Why did you choose to apply to and attend an entrepreneurship program?

I guess you could say entrepreneurship chose me. I started my business when I was 16. So I knew I wanted to study business and entrepreneurship before applying to college.

2.Why did you choose to attend the entrepreneurship program at UW/CIE?

I kind of fell into the program.  I was taking an entrepreneurship class at a local community college and my professor told me about UW/CIE’s business plan competition.  Even though my business was up and running, my professor strongly encouraged me to enter as a means of taking my business to the next level.

3. How do you feel your Alma mater prepared you to start your own business?

Prior to tapping into UW/CIE’s resources, I really did not talk about my business a lot.  I was quiet about it and a little bit shy.  Entering the competition and attending UW/CIE forced me to get out of my shell and encouraged me to talk about my business with the community.

4. Now that you are a real-life entrepreneur (vs. learning about it in class), is there anything you wish you had paid more attention to while you were an undergrad?

I did not pay too much attention to the social and networking aspects that were right in front of me.  Looking back, I know those connections would have been very valuable.

5. What advice would you give to those considering applying to an entrepreneurship program?

Make sure you pursue entrepreneurship for the right reasons.  I’ve seen some students pursue entrepreneurship because they think it sounds cool or will lead to riches.  Instead, look at entrepreneurship as an opportunity to serve and work hard.

Lesley Stracks-Mullem, co-founder of Taste Carolina, a go-behind-the-scenes gourmet food tour company, attended UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

1. Why did you choose to apply to and attend an entrepreneurship program?

I always knew I wanted to start a business. But the numbers and finance aspects of operating a business scared me. I was an English major in college and had worked for non-profit and government organizations in D.C., but I didn’t have any business education or experience. I wanted to learn new skills and build confidence.

2. Why did you choose to attend the entrepreneurship program at UNC?

I always loved UNC, so it was natural to put it on my list. After I got accepted, I met the Dean at an event in D.C. and I asked him to help me choose between UNC and other schools.  He asked me what I wanted to do after business school. When I told him I wanted to start my own business, his face lit up as he told me about the new entrepreneurship initiatives at UNC. That conversation fired me up.

3. How do you feel your Alma mater prepared you to start your own business?

One of my friends from business school said that out of everyone in our class, she thought that the MBA experience was most transformative for me. It makes sense because I feel like I had the most to learn, since I had never taken accounting, finance, marketing or economics! I didn’t know Microsoft Excel very well, and, although I considered myself a good boss, I needed to learn how to manage up and around organizations.

4. Now that you are a real-life entrepreneur (vs. learning about it in class), is there anything you wish you had paid more attention to while you were an undergrad?

Marketing still remains a mystery to me. It can be a creative subject — more so than finance and other numbers oriented classes in many ways, but it still requires a rigorous understanding of formulas and statistics. I wish I had delved deeper into the analytical aspects of marketing.

5. What advice would you give to those considering applying to an entrepreneurship program?

Go to a program that excites you and make time to connect with professors, students and guest speakers beyond the classroom. Share ideas and ask questions.  And if you have an idea for a business, don’t be afraid to share it with others and get feedback.

Now that you’ve heard from 4 entrepreneurs, we’ll let you decide. Is a degree in entrepreneurship worth it? Did you attend a university entrepreneurship program? What advice do you have for others pursuing this type of education?