When to Found

MODULE #1: “WHEN TO FOUND” – Should I start a company now, or work elsewhere first? What are the pros and cons of different career paths vis-à-vis my ability to successfully start and run a new venture?

Case description:“Addresses the career decision-making process of Humphrey Chen as he graduates from HBS with an MBA. In choosing between an offer from a top-tier consulting firm and launching a start-up entrepreneurial venture, Chen must weigh the expectations of many people–family, fiancee, friends–as well as his own desires.”

Core issues: Founding early in a career, Founding with a technical background, Personal career management, Self-evaluation.

  • Case #2 (Late career decisions): “Big to Small: The Two Lives of Barry Nalls” (HBSP entry)

Case description: “Barry Nalls describes lessons learned during his 25-year career–his rise at GTE and shorter-lived ventures–and how these prepared him to found MASERGY, a telecommunications start-up. Even as a young boy in a family of entrepreneurs, Nalls had a reputation as a hard worker, but instead of becoming an entrepreneur himself, he built a long career at ‘the biggest company around,’ GTE. After years of working there in sales and marketing, he decided to venture out on his own. His GTE experiences armed him for some entrepreneurial challenges, but also caused additional problems as he tried to start, build, and grow MASERGY. Four years after founding the venture, he now feels that he should have ‘taken the entrepreneurial plunge’ much earlier in life.”

Core issues:Founding late in a career, Founding with a sales-and-marketing background, Founding with big-company experience, Personal career management, Learning how to manage a board of directors, Scaling a high-growth venture.

(Note: The third session in the “When to Found” module is an in-class Careers Panel.)

Up next: The “Building the Team” module and New-Venture Hiring Cases

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