Transforming Business Education
Jack Delosa knew from a very young age that complacency was not an option: the world needs changing. At eight years old, his parents’ not-for-profit Breaking the Cycle showed him that there were more important things to learn than what was being taught in school.
With no formal university education but a head full of ambitious ideas, Delosa founded and failed at business until MBE Education, a company that would help entrepreneurs raise money from investors and sell their business. At 22, the company was doing over $1 million in revenue and was one of Australia’s fastest growing companies.
He’s a repeat millionaire through business ventures and a member of several “Under 30” success lists, but his most recent venture—The Entourage, founded in 2010—is what he calls his “life’s work.” Through its Unconventions and Scaleable & Saleable program, Delosa intends to change the way the world views business education.
What’s Wrong with Business Education?
A lot of focus on Delosa has been on the fact he doesn’t have a university education, despite great minds of our time like Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Ingvar Kamprad taking a similar route to success. So why is it such a topic for conversation? It isn’t the traditional way of doing things, and more and more people are realizing you can be successful without a dedicated higher education.
Twenty years ago, if you wanted to pursue a career in pretty much any field, university and academia would be leading the way in terms of the body of knowledge that you could go and access to become the best professional that you could become. But the world is changing and people are noticing, and this is driving the discussion around the effectiveness of universities.
“The shift has come: universities are so large, so bureaucratic, and wrapped in regulations and no longer able to lead the way in any field because the world is changing,” shared Delosa in an exclusive interview with VENTURE Magazine. “Universities are unable to keep up.”
The worst of it, Delosa shared, is a lack of entrepreneurial spirit at universities. With little to no educational tools for people looking to found new businesses, entrepreneurs leave the relative safety of the university with ideas, but often no way to implement them.
“If we look at universities as businesses—which they are— they are mature enterprises, they are comfortable, risk adverse, overpriced, and they are delivering a product that consumers are unhappy with,” said Delosa. “If that was the case in any industry in the world, everybody would be pointing to these institutions and saying they are ripe for disruption. That is certainly true with traditional education right now.”
Entrepreneurship has been a rising tide globally. People in Delosa’s generation are beginning to realise that their career path doesn’t have to follow that of their parents.
Some other good news: Delosa sees a change in the education industry—if not at universities—in the next 10 to 20 years. The predicted disruption won’t come from a big name corporation or company, but a grassroots player with a big idea and nothing to lose.
“Google’s biggest threat is not an existing company: it’s two guys in a garage with a bloody big idea,” he commented.
What The Entourage is Doing for Entrepreneurs
The Entourage’s mission and values were defined from the start. With a clear idea on where it was going and how the company was going to get there, Delosa and his team have been able to provide helpful tools for entrepreneurs since the company’s inception.
There were two huge driving factors in the creation of The Entourage. Since 2010, Delosa and The Entourage have asked people the question “On a scale of 1 to 10, how effective was your university degree in your education on how to found and own a business?” The average rating—and Delosa said he was being generous—was a 3 out of 10. But it’s not all negative: inspiration in the form of Nelson Mandela has also played a big part in The Entourage.
“Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world,” Delosa shared. “I believe that when you bring the integrity back to the education process and put the student first and build out the education model according to what is truly going to give this person a meaningful result in their life and their career, you can deliver a better brand of education.”
Since 2010, The Entourage has helped its members’ businesses add over $147 million in value, create over 1,200 strategic partnerships, increase media exposure to over $426,000, and raise $30 million in venture capital. BRW’s list of Top 5 Young Entrepreneurs in 2014 was comprised solely of people who had used The Entourage’s Scaleable & Saleable program to grow their business.
As Australia’s most successful program for entrepreneurs, it’s no surprise that Delosa and his team are looking to expand, first to Singapore by 2016 then further into the Asia Pacific region. There is currently a research team in Asia exploring the markets.
“Our mission is to be the world’s number one education institution for entrepreneurs. And our vision is to push civilization forward through better education. So if we want to be number one in the world, then we have to be throughout the world, and those plans will start with Singapore in 2016.”
“When you decide to pursue a path on your own terms and go out and start a business, there is no road map: there is no real structure. There are skillsets and characteristics that we need to learn in order to be successful, but entrepreneurship is essentially a creative endeavor. Whenever pursuing a creative endeavor, we have to be okay with a lot of learning coming through the form of trial and error.
“When you are building something with a large degree of inevitability, you will make mistakes. Culturally we view failure as a bad thing. But when you become an entrepreneur, or when you start pursuing a dream, you have to view failure as an inevitable stepping stone.”
It’s kind of difficult to argue with that advice.