This piece summarizes an interview by India Kishinchand, which originally appeared on El Referente [Spanish language]
The Lean MBA is a flexible and affordable business administration program. It is designed for people with little time and allows them to study online in only 15-30min/day for 1 year. All of this from any device and for 299€ total. Registration is open to anyone who wishes to study and there is no selection process. The course is taught in English and consists of 12 subjects (to view the full curriculum, click here).
Édouard Blin (CEO) and Maxime Riard (CTO) met in 2013 in Madrid at an alumni meeting of their engineering school, Arts & Métiers ParisTech. In 2014, Édouard founded his own company and by September 2016, he and Maxime had created the basis of The Lean MBA program. “Thanks to our previous experience, we were able to launch a new platform in a month, close deals with teachers, create the Entrepreneurship module, and advertise for the planned launch on October 3rd,” Édouard explains.
Why did you create an accelerated business administration program? How is it different from others that already existed? What shortcomings did you find?
We realized that there are some best-selling books that teach everything that is learned in an MBA and that there is a strong demand for business training. We note that the two main factors that prevent professionals from doing an MBA are time and money, and that the main factor that makes it difficult for them to learn on their own with books or through the Internet is lack of motivation and organization. Our mission is to make business administration training fun, affordable, and flexible for everyone. That’s why we created a one-year program, 15-30min/day, 100% online, at a reasonable price (only 299€ for the whole year), and accessible from any device (with case studies and optional materials for the most-motivated). Thus, they can have all the basics of business administration without sacrifices.
Why is there no selection process? Who is your target audience?
We do not compete with elite MBA programs. On the contrary, our audience is people who do not want to invest the time and money in an MBA. They do not seek the prestige or the network of an MBA, but they want an easy way to learn all the basics of business administration to complete their training, to be more efficient in the workplace, to communicate better, or to have all the tools to launch their own company .
The program has a clear international focus, how does this desire materialize in the program?
First, the program is in English. Then, each class (we open a new class each month) mixes students from different countries (we have students from over 60 different countries!) Our marketing is international, through the Internet.
Why did you establish MyLeanMBA as a 100% online project? What advantages does it have?
Being a 100% online program is the only way to offer the flexibility our users are looking for. The 350 mini online courses of 15 minutes/day and our responsive design allow the user to study where and when he wants (in the subway, in bed or on the couch, at work …)
Based on what criteria did you establish the subjects? How do you adapt them according to the needs of the students?
The courses are inspired by the best MBA programs in the world. We analyzed several MBA programs from Harvard, Wharton and Stanford. Our main work is a great synthesis, summarizing the program in a format of 15-30 minutes/day for 1 year. The courses are prepared by experts and adapted to our format. Our program director received her Master’s degree from Harvard Business School and was a Professor of Finance for 28 years at HEC Paris.
What is the methodology you propose?
Our methodology consists of offering mini-courses of 15 minutes in length, with additional material for those who want to learn more, plus weekly tests. MyLeanMBA offers LinkedIn groups for each class so students can ask questions, exchange ideas, and network. Our methodology with weekly objectives helps students to create a learning routine (15-30 minutes/day) and to combine training with their personal and professional life. This routine acts a bit like a virtual coach. We have also worked on designing a platform and courses that are not boring for the student (gamification elements).
How is networking developed both online and offline?
Students in each class connect and exchange through the professional social network LinkedIn. MyLeanMBA also organizes afterworks in several cities such as Madrid, Paris, Barcelona and Stockholm.
You have closed several rounds of funding and received an ENISA, what are your recommendations regarding funding for those just starting out?
We recommend first spending as little as possible, using your own resources, validating the concept, and then launching the market as early as possible. Do not expect a product to be developed for marketing. A round of funding should not be used to “survive” but to accelerate an already validated business model. Asking others for money is an important responsibility. Once the concept is validated and a prototype made (still basic), we recommend to prepare capital rounds and ENISA at least 6-8 months in advance.
So far you have about 2,500 users worldwide, how do you expect to grow in this respect?
According to a study on Facebook, there is a potential market of more than 100 million people, which leaves us a lot of room to grow.
Why are you an alternative to a traditional MBA?
I do not know if you can say that we are an alternative to a traditional MBA. We do not compete with the best MBA in the world, because we do not address the same people. Our students do not want to spend much time/money studying business administration. We simply offer a very flexible and affordable way to study all the basics of business, with synthetic courses of quality.
What role do public institutions play in fostering entrepreneurship?
Public institutions are increasingly aware of the need to create a strong fabric of SMEs, as they create the vast majority of jobs in Spain. There are several aids. We were lucky enough to be in a coworking in Madrid Emprende and to receive an ENISA loan. But we would like the entrepreneurial ecosystem to be more similar to London, where public institutions do not play a very important role, but the private sector is very developed.
As an educational agent of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, what do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of Spanish startups?
Spain is a country with a culture of underdeveloped entrepreneurship compared to other countries (USA, Israel, England, France, Germany), but the ecosystem has improved a lot in recent years. Spain has talent and the success of some startups proves it. Spain has the advantage of having lower costs than other countries, but the level of investment in startups is lower. Spain needs more success and more education so that the people who have savings support the startups and technological SMEs and do not focus so much on the real estate sector. In an increasingly digital world, this does not create strategic employment for the country.
What are the goals of MyLeanMBA in the medium / long term?
We want to offer our training to companies, so that employees can understand how a company is managed, improve their communication and efficiency at work. We want to offer The Lean MBA in Spanish, French and Chinese. And, in the long run, we would like to have more programs with the same “lean” format of 15-30 minutes/day, at an affordable price.
What relationship is established with the students once they finish the course?
Students still have access to all materials and can use them as tools in their personal and/or professional life. We are also working on the creation of an international alumni network.
What is feedback from them once they leave school? How does your training impact students in terms of labor, economic, personal factors?
We launched The Lean MBA in October 2016 and the program lasts one year. We will have the first graduates in October 2017. We will continue our alumni to establish the impact of our training in the following years. Being a condensed program, we do not expect to have the same labor and economic effects as a traditional MBA. But we allow our students not to make personal sacrifices or borrow money to study, and we plan to work on a job board for our alumni group. At this time, we know that 54% plan to change positions and/or work just after graduation.
This piece is a summary of an interview by India Kishinchand, originally published in Spanish on El Referente. To view the original article, click here.