Endeavor has been placing MBAs from top schools with entrepreneurs for over a decade. This summer has seen a fresh crop of rising second-year MBA students from schools as diverse as Harvard, Stanford and NYU leave for summer projects with companies in eight different country affiliates ranging from Argentina to Saudi Arabia.
What originally started ten years ago as a summer program for students to have an international experience as a break from class work has now also become a core part of the curriculum at a number of major business schools.
For the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Lab program (G-Lab), 2013 will mark the 80th engagement that student teams have had with Endeavor companies. Typical projects for MIT’s G-Lab with Endeavor Entrepreneurs have ranged from new market entry and strategic growth to Venture Capital, marketing, benchmarking, financial modeling and HR.
“We think of MIT G-Lab as a very cost effective three-month consulting engagement for emerging and frontier market start ups, fast growing SMEs and local VCs,” says faculty member Shari Loessberg, a familiar judge at Endeavor’s International Selection Panels.
Many companies return to G-Lab year after year. A typical ongoing G-LAB/Endeavor relationship has been with Argentina’s Conexia, a leader in electronic medical records. The company has welcomed four G-Lab teams to its Buenos Aires’ headquarters in the past four years to work on projects ranging from strategic planning to international expansion (note: On August 1, 2013, Conexia announced its largest-ever contract, covering 7 million members of Colombia’s Saludcoop health insurer) and an MIT Case Study.
“In every high growth company you have important problems and also urgent problems. The urgent ones are the ones that normally get most of the attention with the end result that many of the important problems do not get tackled they become urgent,” says Conexia CEO Luis Navas. “G-Lab is a way for us to tackle some of these important problems, delivering very good results, at low cost and with limited demand on our time.”
A more recent convert to G-Lab is Kartuku, a mobile payments platform that was one of the first companies chosen by Endeavor’s new Indonesia affiliate after its launch in 2012.
“G-Lab gave us access to a talented and motivated team who actively brought together research in the US and insights from their home market (Brazil) to help Kartuku develop a new product strategy,” says company president Niki Luhur. “The team quickly integrated within our organization and helped engage a key client for information gathering, financial modeling and an initial proposal and pitch. We were extremely happy with their efforts, and hope to welcome a new team for another key project in the upcoming year.”
The Global Entrepreneurship lab matches teams of four, second-year MBAs with an Endeavor entrepreneur, who work remotely, part-time from MIT during the October – December term. In January, the G-lab teams work on-site full time from the company’s office. The Entrepreneur determines what challenges, deliverables, and experience they expect from the G-Lab team. Typically, G-lab team members have 5-8 years of work experience, and range anywhere from 27 to 30 years of age. The teams have diverse backgrounds, with roughly 40% from the US and 60% with international backgrounds. Teams have broad work experience prior to MIT, including in consulting, technology, finance, or startups.
MIT G-Lab doesn’t charge any fees to participate, but the host companies are expected to pay for coach airfare from Boston as well as provide a simple, safe place for the team to reside while doing their work.
A new innovation for 2013 is a G-Lab CEO Summit at the MIT campus this fall for entrepreneurs who are participating in the program. In addition to working in person with their G-Lab teams earlier in the cycle, the entrepreneurs will connect with resources from across the university including the MIT Media Lab, the entrepreneurship center and the Sloan School of Management. [The G-Lab CEO Summit will be held November 5 -6 at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, immediately before the Endeavor Gala and Branding Tour in New York].