All Blog

Engineering Your Entrepreneurial Journey: Which Degree Sets You Up for Startup Success?

Author Laura Lorta |

May 24, 2023

Engineering Your Entrepreneurial Journey Which Degree Sets You Up for Startup Success

Embarking on the entrepreneurial journey requires more than a passion for innovation and a groundbreaking idea. Your educational path can impact your success as a startup founder, focusing on three key areas: psychology, business, and technical fields. We’ll delve into the unique advantages and skills that can empower you to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.

The Psychology of Entrepreneurship: Why This Degree Is Essential

As an entrepreneur, understanding human behavior and motivation is essential to success. A degree in psychology provides a foundation for developing emotional intelligence, persuading investors, and gaining customer insight. Studies show entrepreneurs with a psychology degree have a 23% higher success rate in launching and scaling their businesses.

Learn to Understand Human Behavior

A psychology degree teaches you how people think, learn, and act. You gain empathy, communication, and persuasion skills that can break a startup. You can craft persuasive arguments rooted in facts and adapt your style accordingly.

Understand How Consumers Make Buying Decisions

Consumer psychology courses explore how people make buying decisions. As an entrepreneur, you need to get into your customer’s mind. By understanding needs, desires, and factors influencing choice, you can develop products that resonate with your target audience. This helps to reduce risk in a startup.

Frameworks for Understanding Behaviors and Motivations

People are complex, but psychology degrees provide frameworks for understanding behaviors and motivations. As an entrepreneur, you need to understand what drives your team, investors, and customers. A psychology degree helps you gain emotional intelligence to navigate relationships and persuade others to support your vision.

The Value of a Psychology Degree Over a Business Degree for Entrepreneurs

While technical or business degrees may seem more directly relevant for entrepreneurship, psychology provides a set of skills that benefit entrepreneurs in any industry. Strong, soft skills allow entrepreneurs to lead teams, raise capital, and gain customer traction. Psychology teaches you how people’s minds work and helps you apply that knowledge through emotional intelligence, communication, and persuasion. For any startup, a psychology degree can be among the most valuable foundations for long-term success. Understanding people is critical, and psychology degrees give entrepreneurs the skills to do just that.

The Networking Power of an MBA

An MBA degree provides a powerful networking platform for entrepreneurs. MBA programs give students access to internships, mentors, and a lifelong network of like-minded peers and professors. These connections can lead to new business opportunities, collaborations, and startup funding sources.

An MBA Provides Value Long After Graduation

Student entrepreneurs participate in networking events, mentorship programs, internships, and group projects during an MBA program. These activities expose students to a wide range of professionals from different backgrounds and areas of expertise. The program does the networking for you, connecting you with people that may become future business partners, employees, customers, clients, or investors.

Tapping Into Shared Networks

Professors and mentors associated with MBA programs often have networks and industry connections they are willing to share with standout students. They can provide introductions, references, and recommendations that help students land internships, jobs, or funding for their startup ideas. The mentorship provided during and after an MBA program is an invaluable resource for entrepreneurs.

Access to Incubators and Accelerators

MBA students also often have access to business incubators and accelerators affiliated with their university. These programs provide funding, workspaces, and additional networking opportunities for new startups. University alum networks also frequently support recent graduates starting new businesses, providing networking and financial backing.

The Power of In-Person Networking

In today’s digital world, the power of in-person networking and mentorship MBA programs provide is more critical than ever. For entrepreneurs looking to launch a startup, the networking platform enabled by an MBA program can be a crucial competitive advantage and a catalyst for success. MBA networks are lifelong and life-changing for entrepreneurs.

Why Technical Degrees Are Valuable for Tech Startups

A computer science, software engineering, or information technology degree is essential for entrepreneurs launching a tech startup. These technical degrees provide the complex skills required to build a tech product, understand the latest technologies, and manage teams of engineers.

The Benefits of a Technical Degree for Tech Startup Founders

According to a study by the Kauffman Foundation, 67% of tech startup founders have a degree in a technical field. These degrees gave them the knowledge and skills in software development, web design, and data analysis to create their companies’ first products and services. With a technical degree, you’ll learn multiple programming languages, software frameworks, and other tools that can be applied directly to building an innovative tech solution.

Startup Success is Possible With Other Degrees

However, a technical degree is optional for a successful tech startup. Some founders come from business, design, or other non-technical backgrounds. But without a technical co-founder or teams of engineers, these founders face a much steeper learning curve in building their tech products and navigating challenges. They must work harder to gain the technical knowledge and skills that those with technical degrees already possess.

A Technical Degree Gives Tech Founders a Head Start

For any tech startup, technical talent and expertise are essential. As a founder, having an engineering or computer science degree provides a head start, giving you the skills and knowledge to bring your vision to life. While continuous learning is still required, a technical degree can ensure you have the necessary grounding to lead your startup and manage complex technology projects. For tech startups, technical degrees are critical for startup success.

The Surprising Value of Healthcare Administration Degrees

For entrepreneurs looking to start a medical or healthcare-focused business, a degree in healthcare administration can be precious. These programs teach core skills directly translating to managing healthcare startups, such as optimizing medical workflows, navigating healthcare regulations, and analyzing healthcare data to improve outcomes or reduce costs.

Networking With Others in The Healthcare Field

Healthcare administration degrees also provide networking opportunities with others in the healthcare field, which can lead to mentorship, collaborations, or even finding a co-founder. According to surveys, over 50% of healthcare startups are founded by those with clinical or healthcare administration experience. Degrees in this field give graduates domain expertise and credibility that helps attract partners, investors, and customers.

Examples of Successful Healthcare Startups

Some well-known healthcare startups founded by those with healthcare administration degrees include Zocdoc, a medical appointment booking service; One Medical, a membership-based primary care practice; and Oscar Health, an health insurance provider focused on affordability and technology. These companies were started by entrepreneurs who applied their healthcare administration knowledge to improve patient experiences and access.

The Right Degree Can Lead to Startup Success

While degrees alone do not make someone an entrepreneur, the right degree can provide knowledge and skills that serve as a foundation for startup success. For healthcare startups, healthcare administration programs offer that highly relevant foundation. Degrees help you start running—continuous learning is required to keep going.

How to Choose the Right Degree for Your Startup

Choosing the right degree for your startup is a big decision. The program you select should provide knowledge and skills directly relevant to your business goals. It should also fit your interests and strengths, as you’ll perform better in a field you care about.

Evaluate Your Priorities and Vision

First, evaluate your priorities and vision for your company. If you’re launching a tech startup, a technical degree like computer science or engineering is your best bet. These programs teach hard skills you’ll constantly use, like coding, systems design, and project management. For a healthcare startup, consider healthcare administration. Business, psychology, or management degrees can be ideal for any industry. They provide practical soft skills across fields, from marketing to accounting to leadership.

Choose Programs That Offer Real-World Experience

Next, consider programs offering opportunities for real-world experience, like internships, consulting projects, or mentorship. Startups thrive on practical knowledge, so choosing a degree provides hands-on learning. See if any local startups would sponsor or match with students for internships. Contact program heads and ask about mentorship opportunities and job placement rates. Degrees resulting in solid networks and job offers provide the most helpful education.

Consider a Degree That Aligns With Your Interests and Strengths 

Think about your interests and strengths as an entrepreneur. If you’re a born techie, you’ll excel in a technical program, while business programs may frustrate you. A management or psychology degree may be perfect if you’re a natural leader. Choose a fascinating field to build knowledge and skills you’ll use for years. While any degree can work for startups, entrepreneurs perform best in areas they care about.

Factor in Opportunities for Customization

Factor in opportunities to specialize or customize your degree. MBA programs often offer entrepreneurship, marketing, and finance concentrations. Computer science degrees allow specialization in software engineering, web development, and AI. Tailor your program to gain expertise directly relevant to your business.

Develop a Lifetime Learner Mentality

While degrees provide a foundation, continuous learning shapes an entrepreneur. Read industry publications, take online courses, and engage with your network regularly. The skills and knowledge you need will evolve constantly, so keep improving and expanding your education.

The right degree for your startup depends on you and your vision. Evaluate your priorities and consider the kind of education to set you up for success. Look for programs providing practical experience, mentorship, networking, and the chance to specialize in your areas of interest. Then get ready to start building your business, and never stop learning. The entrepreneur’s journey never ends.

Continuously Learning: Why Degrees Are Just the Start

An entrepreneur’s journey continues after earning a degree. In dynamic, fast-changing industries, continuous learning is a must to keep your skills and knowledge up to date. While degrees provide a helpful knowledge foundation, real-world experience and lifelong learning shape an entrepreneur over the long run.

There is No Substitute for Real-World Experience

No matter how advanced your education, the realities of starting and running a company will teach you lessons you can only learn on the job. Reading industry publications, taking online courses, and regularly engaging with your professional network are ways to expose yourself to new ideas and ways of thinking continuously. The day you stop learning is the day your startup stops innovating.

What You Learned in College Will Soon Become Outdated

While entrepreneurial degrees and programs provide a knowledge base and network to get started, lifelong learning develops the judgment and wisdom to navigate uncertainty. The half-life of skills and knowledge is constantly shrinking, so what you learned in college may need to be updated a few years after graduation. But continuous learning will ensure your knowledge is always fresh and relevant.

A Degree is Just the Beginning

For any entrepreneur, a degree is just the beginning—continuous learning and adaptation are what shape you into the leader your startup needs. Keeping an open and curious mindset and constantly exposing yourself to new ideas is what allows you to evolve along with your company. While degrees may open doors, lifelong learning sustains and grows what’s behind them.

Get the latest news and updates from Aleph One in your inbox.

    We fund and build tech products to scale

    Let’s work together to build something amazing. Share your project details and our team will reply to figure out the next steps to your success.
    Submit a Pitch

    We’re looking for the next generation of companies, products, and innovators. If you’re in the process of scaling your business and need funding, get in touch.

    Fill out the information and our team will follow up with any additional questions and work to schedule a time to meet. We’re excited to hear more!

      Schedule a pitch

      Schedule a call