MBAx Open Road

Introduction        Build the Team        Plan the Journey       Hit the Road        Resources


Open Road is an initiative to share the MBAs Across America playbook with the world. Based on the lessons we’ve learned over the past 50,000 miles, this toolkit is designed to help MBAs and others embark on their own journeys of impact in an effort to scale support for visionary entrepreneurs in communities far and wide.

Since we first piloted MBAx in the summer of 2013 we’ve been grateful to grow from just four friends hitting the road for what many thought was an ill-advised boondoggle into a national movement that has attracted hundreds of MBA applicants from over 30 business schools and hundreds of entrepreneur applicants from 43 states. Along the way, our teams of MBAx Fellows have had the privilege of partnering with over 70 visionary entrepreneurs who create jobs and change lives in their communities. We’ve seen success and setbacks but have found that if you take MBAs with the right values and pair them with community-minded entrepreneurs, you create powerful and mutually transformative relationships that leave the entrepreneurs, their businesses, their communities, and MBAs forever changed and deeply connected to one another.

These 50,000 miles have also taught us that the needs and opportunities our communities face are too great for this type of work to be limited by the resources of a single program. When we hit the road that first summer, staying with friends and family and driving our own cars to save money, we never intended to build an organization that excluded the eager and able from joining in alongside us. We had an idea for our own lives that we quickly found we shared with many other MBAs, and before we knew it we had far more qualified applicants than we could put on the road with the limited resources of our startup non-profit.

This sounds great on the surface, but our end game is not to achieve a low acceptance rate to prove the prestige of our program and perpetuate it for its own sake. We want to be a part of a new generation of purpose-oriented business leaders that drives progress and a country where every entrepreneur, not just the chosen few in major hubs, has access to the resources they need to thrive. There are 28 million small businesses in the US, and none of the 35,000+ students enrolled in MBA programs need our permission or anyone else’s to hit the road.

If you are one of these MBAs who is eager to roll up your sleeves and put your skills to work for American communities in an entrepreneurial context that will teach you more than you could ever learn in a classroom or a cubicle – If you can listen more than you speak, act more than you plan, and embrace the uncertainty and discomfort that make the journey challenging but magical – If you share our belief that a business education is incomplete without seizing opportunities to serve or creating them if they do not exist – If you believe that the challenges facing our generation are great but the opportunities are greater – then we invite you to build this movement with us on the open road.


We break this guide into the three phases that shape the MBAx experience: Build the TeamPlan the Journey, & Hit the Road


Our first journey happened to be a summer road trip with a team of four people, but we hope you create the journey that works for you, be it a 1-week winter semester project with an entrepreneur in your community, a 2-week spring break journey to another city, or a 10-week cross-country summer journey. This guide is a template, not a prescription, and we hope to see teams build on and improve what we have learned.


If you are considering hitting the road, complete this quick survey to let us know. Connect with a growing community of purpose-oriented MBAs in our Open Road Facebook Group, and contact us directly at and


“The MBA is a great way to learn about business, MBAx is actually doing it.” — Elizabeth Pfeiffer, Columbia Business School Graduate, currently at Deloitte

“This is hands-down the best thing I did during my MBA.”— Atif Qadir, Columbia Business School Graduate, currently at Extell

“MBAx has been one of the most amazing and transformative experiences for me. It was definitely filled with challenges, apprehension, struggle, and sometimes feelings of defeat, but I learned a ton about myself, my team, and this country. I walked away feeling empowered, inspired, and excited for what’s to come in the years ahead, and I think that many students will gain a tremendous benefit from exposing themselves to business on such a grassroots level. It is the type of learning that you won’t find in a classroom no matter how prestigious the university or sincere the intentions of the faculty.”— Stefanie Thomas, currently in her second year at Ross Business School

“Over the course of six weeks I began to see a picture of America come into focus that made me excited to be a part of it. The commonalities on our road trip surprised me more than the differences. In city after city, we saw neighborhoods in varying states of revitalization. In city after city, we saw a move toward entrepreneurship as a tool for building and rebuilding. And in city after city, we met entrepreneurs who cared deeply about their communities and who were trying to change them for the better—who did it as if it were the most natural thing in the world that they could be doing.”— Meghan Sherlock, Harvard Business School Graduate, currently at Bain & Co.