Wondering exactly what makes a successful entrepreneur?  If you’re thinking in a classroom, think again. Most recent MBA graduates who are sitting in a classroom taking notes and regurgitating information on an exam are graduating without creative problem solving, strategic thinking, and communication skills which are all key to becoming a successful entrepreneur. The Denver MBA has been way ahead of the curve, taking learning out of the classroom and into the real world. So you can, you know, gain experience doing that thing you’ve come to school to learn how to do.


During the course of the program, Denver MBA students compete in four challenges: building a startup, supporting an organization working for social good, solving a corporate problem and traveling outside the U.S. to work across cultures. Don’t these seem a bit more informative than Spreadsheets 101? Good, because they are. These core challenges create an innovative entrepreneur ready to take on progressive new business ideas and succeed in unique ways.


Challenge #1) Building a Startup

For their first challenge in the reinvented MBA program, students are asked to develop and refine a business model from scratch. Learning doesn’t stop in the theoretical classroom; instead, students attend classes to gain knowledge then incorporate their start-ups in teams to apply what they’ve learned. This continual learning method allows students to engage in a continuous cycle of theoretical learning with real-world application, allowing students to create real-world solutions for the issues of today. These goals are labeled “challenges” because “just like in the real world, there will be winners and losers,” says Brent Chrite, Dean of the Daniels College of Business.


Challenge #2) Supporting an Organization Working for the Social Good

Students take on tricky issues for a nonprofit, NGO, or government body that results in a positive impact regardless of constrained resources. “Each challenge is in a real-world environment,” meaning that students actively learn the real impact their actions have on a company in the environment that exists today. While case studies can be a great way to see how things in the past have turned out, nothing beats a real-time application.


Challenge #3) Solving a Corporate Problem

The third challenge immerses MBA students in a real business situation, tackling a complex organization and solving a problem or developing a value-creation opportunity. “Now there’s a chance to prove your work passes the market test,” says Chrite. Coaches and career advisors help students develop skills and pathways for their entrepreneurial growth throughout the program and at the end of each challenge, students are assessed by their coaches and peers which inform their plans for the next challenge.


Challenge #4) Traveling Outside the U.S. to Work Across Cultures

Students learn to deal with diverse sets of ideas, points of view, customer types, and more by experiencing it first hand in the last challenge. Regardless of a student’s goals upon completion of the MBA, experience outside of the norm creates an enriched education that sets entrepreneurs apart.


Speaking of setting apart, the Daniels College of Business has had a history of innovation since its founding in 1908. “We’ve innovated in a difficult landscape,” says Chrite, who cites Harvard’s case study method and the University of Michigan’s action-learning revolution as the only two major management education innovations to stand beside The Denver MBA’s reinvention in the past 100 years. Inc. Magazine rated The Denver MBA as one of the 15 Most Innovative MBA Programs in the Nation.