23% of French unicorns are produced at HEC Paris: 6 out of 26 (Mirakl, Aircall, Ankorstore, Qonto and Ivalua), the school boasted on its site at the beginning of the year. And to add that in 2021, over 2.4 billion euros were collected from the start-ups of the HEC ecosystem in the world. A record for companies from the program »Whose examples are listed on the MS Entrepreneurs page. As soon as I was admitted to the prestigious school in 2016, I expected to discover the secret of the success of all these clubs. After all, if the biggest French entrepreneurs come out of HEC, it’s because education is the best, isn’t it? Five years later, I finally graduate and blow out my 24th candle at the helm of a self-financed company that employs 35 people. Yet in 2021 I leave school disappointed and frustrated, with the impression that I had to learn everything by myself.
HEC’s academic curriculum is clearly aimed at students targeting senior positions in strategic consulting or the banking sector, those who inflate the stats »Starting salary. The strategy, accounting, and law courses are actually lessons in strategy for large business, accounting for large companies, and large business law. Entrepreneurship is just a priority on brochures.
Business success is not a success criterion
However, the prospect of the master entrepreneur X-HEC gave me hope during the first two years. So, in fact, we are working on cases of ” real start-up, but one element is missing for the cocktail to be successful: reality. We discuss, support, advise, propose but we do not build. Most of the projects initiated by students do not generate turnover, probably because entrepreneurial success is not an important criterion for the achievement of the master’s degree.
What really matters? The thesis and notes for group presentations. Worse, the imperatives of the master, which includes 450 hours of teaching and a mission in the company of at least 4 months, are difficult to reconcile with a real business project, and you live with the fear of being excluded from the master if you put yourself in the conditions of seriously develop our business. This personally led me to burnout. I had to be arrested for three weeks in December 2020, a lot of sleep and tears. I almost paused everything and turned off HEC.
To learn how to do, you must do and as soon as possible
What you need to know is that HEC unicorns were created by entrepreneurs after 5-10 years of trading experience. And this is good for the school. The big exit salary for the statistics and then the HEC mention on the start-up for the prestige: the deal is a winner. The diploma has a buffer value. It allows you to raise funds, access the alumni network and discover the meaning of ambition (starting a successful company in HEC means creating a unicorn, not an SME). There are also incredible speakers, albeit often too far apart. But learning to commit: no.
A first step in solving this problem would be to measure, prioritize, the percentage of students who start successful businesses after school. The school states that 75% of graduates have set up their own businesses, but how long do these businesses last on average and how successful they are (number of jobs created, funds raised, positive impact on society or the planet, etc.) . It is difficult for a school to take credit for the success of an entrepreneur who started 10 years after graduation.
Some institutions will fall from above and find that ” experience is a lantern that illuminates only the wearer », As the writer Céline said. They will realize that in order to learn to do, one must do. In order for their students to set up successful boxes, they need to be pushed to it as soon as possible. From the teaching of the Grande Ecole program. Not with theoretical courses, but with imperatives of results. Imperatives of customers, users, turnover.