Adcom is not a Venture Capital Firm

By Avi Gordon, Founder of MBA Admissions Studio

I am sometimes asked for the greatest mistakes applicants make in MBA admissions essays, and at some point I will pull together my all-time list. In the meantime, here is a mistake that I have seen a lot among clients this year so far – muddling up the demands of MBA admissions and a venture capital (VC) pitch.

What this means is: applicants who are on an entrepreneurial track (including social entrepreneurship) and who are therefore talking about a future creating and building a firm, often feel they have to make a VC pitch for their proposed venture. They seek to justify themselves in terms of potential market segments, working capital requirements, time to breakeven, and so on.

It is always good for MBA admissions to demonstrate detailed, careful thinking. If your “why-an-MBA” response is based on a new business, you need to talk about the proposed venture and its industry-market background in a specific and knowledgeable way. You do not however, need to make “the business case.” Adcom is not a VC firm. As long as the idea is not manifestly absurd, they cannot determine if it will actually work, nor are they ever going to try. This is not their skill set nor their fundamental concern.

Put it this way: A VC firm will “like” a business idea if it thinks it will get out (an investment multiple of) more money than it puts in. If so, the VC will, to quote Dragon’s Den, “make you an offer.” In other words, invest cash for a percentage of the business.

Adcom is not investing cash. It will “like” a business idea enough to make you an offer (an offer of a place in the b-school) if your venture seems broadly plausible, interesting, ambitious, “doing something worthwhile in the world,” and worthy of an MBA. So, while you should make a general case for your new product or service, in reality the venture does not have to be watertight.

You can include the jumps of ambition and enthusiasm that you would have to scrub from a funding pitch, but there is a wrinkle – Adcom is like a venture capital firm in one way. It is well known that VCs judge two things: the business idea and the entrepreneur, because they are investing in the person or management team as much as the project. Even a mediocre idea can be a winner, if put in really competent hands. In this sense Adcom mirrors the VC, asking themselves: (whatever he says he wants to do…) “Can he do it?” or “Can she pull it off?”

By Avi Gordon, Founder of MBA Admissions Studio

Let Avi & Team help you make the best first impression on your business school applications. For a free evaluation of your application, email contact @ and visit

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