Robert's Story: An MBA for Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Robert Blacklidge began his entrepreneurial career very early. He started selling candy as a way of getting a little extra spending money.

In the sixth grade.

“I’ve always had that drive, you know?” Robert says.

That drive lead him to the Air Force, then to his bachelor’s degree, but he still had the desire to build his own company. There was just one problem: getting started.

Robert’s real-world experiences had prepared him for the realities of running his own company, but in order to get started, the banks needed more from him, such as a professional business plan. That led him to the Midland MBA and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Concentration, including classes such as Entrepreneurship and Sales & Leadership.

“What do the banks look for in you and in your documents to give you that loan to purchase or start a business?” Robert remembers asking himself. “I learned how to do a business plan in class, applied that, and started my own IT company.”

For Robert, the effort to build his own company was just a part of his life. After becoming the candy mogul of his school in sixth grade, for example, he diversified and began mowing lawns and painting mailboxes. It was a year-round business in his native Florida, and by hiring his classmates, he began to learn how to manage payroll and travel expenses.

As his business needs grew, however, Robert needed the flexibility of a hybrid MBA. He appreciated the time value that an online class provides, having received his undergraduate degree from an online program, but he found the Midland MBA’s hybrid format’s inclusion of in-person class sessions, allowing him to network and learn alongside classmates from a variety of backgrounds, to be an important addition.

“Being able to meet with my fellow classmates, meet with my professors, and really have an engaging conversation that’s applicable in my day-to-day life is so valuable.”

After he founded Ikigai Technology just six months into his MBA, he went on to purchase two Blimpies before graduation. He thanks Professor Bill Bennett of Walmart and his Financial Management course for the skill required to calculate the financial ratios needed to learn which of the 20 companies he considered best fit his situation.

“There is nothing theoretical about this program,” he says. “Midland connects you with professors who are professionals in their own right, so you can ask pointed questions that relate directly to you and get an answer that’s real-world and has actual implications that you can apply.”

Robert has since sold the Blimpies, but his drive continues. He is currently working on a second Masters to grow Ikigai Technology, and also operates a photography business.

If you’re interested in starting your own business, maybe it’s time to take the next step toward making it a reality and get your MBA. You’re never more than nine weeks from getting started on the road to advancing your career with the Midland MBA. Contact Admissions at or by calling (402) 941-6226 to learn more about scholarships and start dates.

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