Is it smart to go to school for entrepreneurship?

9 aspiring tycoons tell FSB how the classes they took affected their businesses.

Ranga Krishnamurthi, 41
The E-Learner
Ranga Krishnamurthi, 41
Boston University
Online graduate certificate program in entrepreneurship

My company, iQuire (iquire.com), makes an easy-to-use software program called iCap, which lets doctors digitally record and photograph their medical procedures, and then use the images in digital patient files. It also helps hospitals and medical offices automate their workflow. My colleagues James Burns, Christopher Siddall, Robert Savitt, and I launched it in late 2004, and I enrolled in BU's online program for entrepreneurs in the fall of 2005.

My background had given me plenty of experience with software development, but no insight into business basics. I had studied computer science when I came to the States from India, and then earned a master's degree in biological engineering from the University of Connecticut. I worked in seven different jobs, including two as a software developer for Genus, Inc. and Image Technologies Corp. When I was working as a consultant at Endoscopy Support Services the idea for iQuire was hatched.

Eventually, I landed at Abbott Laboratories. But when my division relocated to California in 2004 and I was laid off, I decided to apply for the National Emergency Grant for professional retraining. I've always wanted to be my own boss; winning the grant made the transition much easier. I was confident in my product and my services, but unsure of whom to market to and what strategies to implement. I knew I had to get what I call a "mini MBA" in order to build a solid foundation for iQuire's success.

Flexibility was my top priority - I wanted to fit in coursework when I had a free minute so I could stay involved with iQuire and my family. I chose BU because of the school's good reputation, but also because the program is intense, hands-on, and completely focused on my needs as a company owner. The way I see it, you're getting value in two ways: learning theories through case studies and applying them to your business so it can grow.

I really like to keep things simple - that's my company's motto and the thinking behind our software. BU allowed me to do just that. I worked on my assignments from home, at my own pace, which not only gave me time to build up iQuire, but also to consult for another company, BL Healthcare, a remote-care management system that enables patients to be monitored at home. BU also provided the opportunity for me to work with entrepreneurs from all over the world - via chat rooms, instant messaging, e-mail, and conference calls. My schoolwork applied directly to my office work. In fact, the marketing plan I've currently implemented grew out of the final project for my Marketing and Sales course.

I know my wife wishes I would get a steady job and quit working in startups. But I've known since 1988 that I want to do something in medical technology to improve the quality of life for others, and I think my company does that. Time management is one of the biggest startup challenges, but with BU's efficient program, I was able to continue my education. Now I feel confident in my business-running skills.
- As told to Diana Rosenthal

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.