Before joining Cambridge Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, Daniil Shcherbakov had been busy. At virtual reality startup Fibrum, he spearheaded the global sale of over 50,000 Fibrum Pro mobile VR helmets through outlets like Best Buy, Amazon, HMV Hong Kong, and Media-Markt/Saturn. He steered the Radario Marketing Platform in the US and UK, becoming an official partner with Eventbrite (the world’s most prominent ticketing platform with 200 million tickets sold annually). He was Head of B2B Partnerships in E-Commerce for VK.com, the most extensive Eastern European social network with over 100 million monthly active users.
Through these, Shcherbakov discovered a knack for finding unique avenues for a company’s initial growth. He could secure the first 100 paying clients, establish processes from the ground up, pitch partnerships, assemble teams for MVP launches, and garner seed funding. “Yet, despite my successes, I yearned to understand how to create a business amid uncertainties and guide such businesses towards sustained growth,” he says.
There was another bigger calling (and a comically serendipitous Open Day) that led Shcherbakov to The Cambridge MBA: mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs. As a Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the CJBS Entrepreneurship Centre, he succeeded in aligning with the Cambridge Angels project, a leading UK business angel network providing smart capital from entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs. “This provided me with a first-hand immersion into angel investing methodologies, an avenue to present my business propositions, and an opportunity to enhance my mentoring endeavours,” he says.
Such opportunities are typical for Cambridge MBA students. In one transformative year, they gain over 400 hours of practical experience, with real client projects. They turned summer projects into a digital marketplace for sports sponsorship, published a business case study with CJBS Professor, Jaideep Prabhu, made a career switch from banking to founding a software company, and started a renewable energy startup that created the world’s first standalone alternating current (AC) battery just a year later.
Within and beyond campus, Shcherbakov found similar avenues to advance his personal ambitions.
In his favourite class — “Negotiations” taught by Mark De Rond – he learned to become an effective communicator. During the entrepreneurship concentration – led by Simon Stockley, an advisor of over 100 startups – he saw the value of a tech-enabled business over a tech-centric startup. As one of the Entrepreneurship SIG leaders during his year, he conducted 20 sessions to answer questions from his cohort about launching their own ventures. “I believe that in sharing knowledge and challenging others’ concepts, I further deepened my own comprehension of critical entrepreneurship topics like go-to-market strategy, customer interviews, and market and competitor research,” he says.
Being in the heart of Silicon Fen – one of the world’s top innovation ecosystems and Europe’s largest and most successful tech cluster – means one lives and breathes startups here. It was the birthplace of pioneering companies and technologies that have become integral to our daily lives, such as ARM and Raspberry Pi. Today, within a 20-mile radius of the heart of Cambridge, there are more than 5,000 companies generating a combined annual revenue of more than 15.5 billion pounds and employing more than 61,000 people. Prominent venture capital funds, including IQ Capital – recognised as the UK’s leading early-stage investor in deep tech – have bases here too.
The Entrepreneurship Centre puts Cambridge students at the heart of this. With science parks, incubators, innovation centres and workspaces at their doorstep, MBA students have unparalleled access to real-life ventures and inspiration from talks, mentor sessions and lectures from industry figures. Innovators based at the university and in the wider local community have developed over 1,600 firms employing more than 30,000 people.
“This vibrant atmosphere not only magnetises aspiring entrepreneurs from all over the UK but is further amplified by numerous initiatives,” he says. “These initiatives span beyond just the business schools, with CJBS Entrepreneurship Centre being a noteworthy mention, and extend to colleges, as seen with King’s Entrepreneurship Lab, and even to businesses like Barclays’ Eagle Labs. Cambridge seamlessly intertwines academia, business, and innovation, making it a beacon for entrepreneurial endeavours.”
Deeksha Wadhwa, a qualified Chartered Accountant from India who has consulting experience with EY and Deloitte, chose the Cambridge MBA for this very reason. She became the co-lead for the FinTech Club, collaborated with alumni and hosted one of the first FinTech Networking events jointly with LBS and Oxford. A confluence of talent, diversity and technology, these immersions paired well with the skills she gained from her modules on Corporate Finance, MacroEconomics, Strategy and Private Equity: teamwork, financial modelling and storytelling.
Together, these experiences opened doors Wadhwa never saw possible. “The collective experience of working in consulting tech clients, being surrounded by startups during the MBA and leading the FinTech SIG inspired me to pursue a career in tech,” she says. “Some of the professional development opportunities here include – tech-focused CVP and GCP clients, electives focusing on emerging technologies, creative arts and media management, and the ability to enrol for free Python coding and financial modelling classes.”
Having seen 12 months of maximum returns for herself and lived through “the Cambridge Phenomenon” first-hand, Wadhwa encourages anyone with a business idea to “embrace the Cambridge experience.” “It is bigger than we can imagine, and it offers immense opportunities,” she says.