Action Learning

G-Lab

G-Lab student teams have delivered insight and analysis to 482 startup and growing companies on 643 projects located in 54 emerging and frontier markets globally.

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G-Lab

Welcome

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Credit: Jessica Wu

Sukanda Djaya team spending some time in Taipei after their on-site in Indonesia.

15.389 Global Entrepreneurship Lab

Entrepreneurship in the 21stcentury is evolving at a rapid pace. Global advances in technology, communication, and capital markets have catalyzed innovative startups that are building successful companies in markets around the globe, in young or emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems. The real world challenges these entrepreneurs face are the focus of Global Entrepreneurship Lab.

Since 2000, Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-Lab) student teams have delivered insight and analysis to 482 startup and growing companies on 643 projects located in 54 emerging and frontier markets around the world. Our teams work on business problems with sponsoring host companies in critical areas such as fintech, cryptocurrency, mobile apps, digital media, telecom, transportation logistics, venture capital, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. 

This course focuses on measuring and understanding what kinds of entrepreneurship thrive in different countries. Students work with host companies to develop analytical diagnostic frameworks that can be used to better understand any situation. This includes applying macroeconomic, microeconomic, and financial tools – as well as thinking about the role of politics, culture, and other noneconomic variables. G-Lab covers relevant history, as well as the likely trajectory of countries and what kinds of policies can make a difference. 

G-Lab is an interdisciplinary project-based learning course with three specific goals:

  • To provide students with insights into the opportunities and problems facing entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
  • To structure an intensive project experience for students, in which they work collaboratively with senior leadership at global startups.
  • To help students develop their skills of integrated problem framing, in order to understand how organizations in complex environments move to action.

Explore 

Learn more about G-Lab through the words of the students.

G-Lab Student Blogs

WATCH: Professor Simon Johnson on Global Entrepreneurship Lab

G-Lab

Projects

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Innovating with Entrepreneurs Around the World

 For twenty years, G-Lab student teams have been working with startups around the globe to help them scale their businesses to generate both an economic and social impact. Typically, students assist entrepreneurs in emerging markets in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

G-Lab Success Stories

G-Lab Companies

G-Lab

Info for Students

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WATCH: Faculty Member Michellana Jester on Global Entrepreneurship Lab

From the Classroom to the Field

As the main feature of G-Lab, student teams work with their host companies on project engagements designed to tackle real-world problems. Host companies are located in up to 15 different emerging market economies throughout the world. In September, G-Lab faculty members match the best-qualified teams to their preferred host company's project. From late September through December, the teams work remotely from campus with the companies to advance the project work, building their relationships through online collaboration and weekly conference calls. Teams conduct project-related research, interviews, and analyses that lay critical groundwork for their onsite field work. In January, teams travel to work on site full-time at their host companies’ offices for three weeks. 

Return: Reflections and Deliverables

In MIT Sloan’s signature Think-Act-Reflect approach to Action Learning, reflection is an ongoing component in the cycle of a G-Lab project. Through various methods of reflection – such as written reflection papers, team process exercises, mentor coaching, posters, public presentations, and student blogs – students link theory and practice before, during, and after their project engagement, leading to a deeper understanding of the broad impact of what they’ve learned. The teams’ final deliverables include a formal presentation and concrete “leave behinds” that deliver high-impact tools, such as financial models, HR manuals, strategic business plans, or social marketing strategies that the host companies’ senior management can put to work immediately. 

Class Timeline

  • September

    G-Lab faculty match best-qualified teams to their preferred host companies. 

  • Late September - December

    Teams work remotely with companies to conduct project-related research, interviews, and analyses.

  • January

    Teams travel to host companies' offices and work on-site full time for three weeks. 

  • February

    Students attend a debrief session after returning from their on-site locations. Later, they present their findings on Poster Day.

G-Lab

Info for Hosts

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The Benefits of Becoming a Host Company

Since 2000, MIT Sloan G-Lab teams have provided high-impact insight and analysis on an extremely cost-effective basis to 482 startups and fast-growing companies with 643 projects in 54 emerging and frontier markets. Our MBA student teams focus on the specific challenges requested by sponsoring host companies, and work to find concrete solutions that can be implemented concretely, quickly and efficiently. 

The value G-Lab teams deliver is consistently rated as superior by our host companies. Each year, a significant percentage of new host companies are introduced to us by satisfied past participants. Each year, more than 30% of our host companies return to work with our G-Lab teams. 

Student Teams

As a direct result of G-Lab’s legacy of success and impact, the course attracts students with rich and varied backgrounds, skills, and work experience. Each four-person G-Lab team is comprised of second-year MBA students and, on occasion, other MIT graduate students, representing a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, from management consulting and financial services to manufacturing and operations. 

Project Scope

When determining project scope, host companies draw from a broad spectrum of business challenges such as strategic growth, new market entry, pricing, marketing, benchmarking, fundraising, and financial strategy. G-Lab strongly emphasizes concrete “leave-behinds” as a primary component of the teams’ project deliverables. For example, for a project focused on creating an acquisition strategy, the deliverables will likely include an M&A toolkit with spreadsheet templates and valuation benchmarks, each with user guides. Student teams may deliver other concrete tools such as financial models, potential customer/investor/partner pipelines and screens, and go-to-market roadmaps. 

Projects Since 2000

Host Timeline

  • July - August

    G-Lab recruits new projects each year between July and August. Companies interested in participating submit an online project questionnaire, which asks for a description of the scope of the business challenge and proposed final deliverables. The questionnaire also asks for desired skill sets and areas of expertise, including non-English language requirements. As part of the due diligence process, G-Lab faculty connect with each company to help shape and refine their project scope for the questionnaire. 

  • September

    G-Lab faculty match host company projects with the best-qualified student teams. 

  • Late September - December

    Students work with companies remotely via conference calls and online collaboration to create a work plan and finalize scope, then conduct initial research, interviews, and analysis. With mentor support, teams are charged with the responsibility for building and managing the host company relationship. 

  • January

    Teams work on-site at host companies’ offices full-time for at least three weeks. Final deliverables include a formal presentation and concrete “leave behinds” that include high-impact tools and recommendations hosts can immediately use.  

Host Company Obligations

Host companies receive optimal results when the CEO and other senior managers are available to devote focused time and energy on the project and with the G-Lab team, especially while teams are on site. 

While MIT Sloan does not charge companies a fee for engaging a G-Lab team, host companies do assume responsibility for 1) round-trip economy airfare for the team, and 2) modest, safe lodging while they are in-country. Given that G-Lab sends teams to countries from Argentina to Zambia, travel and lodging costs vary widely. As a guide, however, a number of recent host companies report that they budget approximately US $8,000 - $12,500 to host a team. 

Interested in Hosting?

In order to participate, potential host companies must have a due diligence call with G-Lab faculty and submit the G-Lab questionnaire. If you are interested in becoming a host company for G-Lab, or if you have any other questions, please email glab-faculty@mit.edu 

G-Lab

Faculty

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G-Lab Faculty

Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson

Behavioral and Policy Sciences

Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship

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Michellana Jester

Michellana Jester

Behavioral and Policy Sciences

Lecturer, Global Economics and Management

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G-Lab Mentors

David Birnbach

David Birnbach

Behavioral and Policy Sciences

Lecturer, Global Economics and Management

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Sharmila C. Chatterjee

Sharmila C. Chatterjee

Management Science

Academic Head, Enterprise Management Track

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John C. Grant

John C. Grant

Behavioral and Policy Sciences

Senior Lecturer, International Action Learning Programs (G-Lab, China/India Lab, GO-Lab)

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Cathy Louise Iacobo

Cathy Louise Iacobo

Behavioral and Policy Sciences

Lecturer, Global Economics and Management

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Shari Loessberg

Shari Loessberg

Behavioral and Policy Sciences

Senior Lecturer, Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management

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G-Lab team in Chile

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