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PhD vs Masters for doing a startup

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Hi all,

I'm considering dropping out of my PhD and getting a masters instead. Basically, I hate doing lab work, so I hate going into work everyday, and I don't want to go into academia. Instead, I want to be an entrepreneur. Does anyone know if investors care that much what your degree is (MS vs PhD)? Even if I secure funding for a startup before I drop out, if my start up fails, is it going to impact future ventures if I don't have a PhD?

For more background, I'm 2.5 years into my PhD. I was hoping that I could graduate in 2 years, but my advisor made an off hand comment recently that I'll probably be here 3 more years. I can barely stand the thought of even staying 2 more years...

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I'm in the exact same boat as you, ready to start something new. honestly, I don't think investors would give two shits whether you have a PhD or a GED, but that's just my opinion. I have no startup experience other than watching full seasons worth of shark tank, so take my advice with a grain of salt. However, I know this is what successful entrepreneurs would probably tell you. Think about what you can do in those 2-3 years as a graduate student slave, and compare that to what you can do in 2-3 years trying to immerse yourself in the world of business. there is no comparison.

Investors care about one thing. Return on investment. The skill set you need to succeed as an entrepreneur involves selling, closing, wearing different hats, yet know when it's time to delegate. These are skills that extend far beyond what a PhD can offer, imo. Ditch the degree, come out to the light baby.

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Also consider the sunk cost of doing 2.5 years of a PhD for no reason. You might feel like you wasted those 2.5 years.

For me, the PhD was a goal in its own right. I decided not to stay in academia, but I still wanted the PhD. Took me 7 years, but at least I can say I accomplished my goal.

Determine how much you care about that.

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I have never been one to spend my time doing something I didn't enjoy, so the following is an objective observation but not necessarily what I would do...

The success rate of start ups is not great, and while we all plan to.succeed we might want to consider the alternative. If the start up fails will the MS be the credential you need to find fulfilling employment? 

Also, regarding intellectual property and your university, if they are funding you and you come up with the ideas for the startup while they are paying you there are probably some ownership implications. 

 

Good luck!

Edited by Quickmick

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I know the exact situation that you are in. I was thinking the same, I ended up finishing my PhD this summer. My dream was to be able to drop out of school at some point to pursue my startup but my PhD took so much time, I ended up never committing to my idea fully. Now that I'm finished, I've decided to take a paus from full-time academia and instead try to bootstrap my startup idea. Have you thought about bootstrapping it? Funds from friends and family?

Edited by avidnote

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I'm not sure why anyone would think they could complete even an EU PhD in 2 years. Certainly not a U.S. one; the standard is much closer to 5-7 years in the science. Four years would be fast.

No, investors generally don't care whether you have a PhD or master's.

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