Taking Notes from Elon Musk: The Smartly Master Plan

smartly master plan

We interviewed the leadership at Smartly, a company that is changing education, for our most recent episode of What’s Next (a web series about entrepreneurship and innovation around North America) and were inspired by their approach to education and how they’ve structured their free online MBA.

Scott Lichtenstein, the company’s COO, spelled out Smartly’s master plan on how they plan to grow the program, build in other components, and eventually disrupt the funding of education.  He was inspired by Elon Musk’s master plan, the first part of which was published in 2006 and the second part of which was published in August this year, where the Tesla founder laid out the step by step process of how the company will disrupt the energy industry through its cars, roofs, and home powering technologies.

Here’s an excerpt from Smartly’s master plan:

“Smartly has the overarching mission to innovate in education, and in that spirit we recently launched a free online MBA degree. From time to time, people ask us: ‘Why are you starting with an elite degree? Why be selective when you could open up the opportunity to those who have difficulty accessing education?’ We do strongly believe in democratizing education, and this is a question we’ve thought about deeply.

We were inspired by the idea of proving a disruptive approach at the top and working step-by-step to spread the benefits to everyone. We want to prove to the world that education can be effective and successful when free and online. In that spirit, the MBA is our flagship program to demonstrate the power of Smartly to rival some of the best educational institutions in the world.”

I think Smartly’s Elon-Musk-inspired approach to the launch and growth of their MBA is pretty cool and made me realize that the starting elite, building enough to survive, and then launching a “for everyone” model could be applied to almost any business.

Can you find a way to apply this kind of thinking to your own projects?

You can read the Smartly Master Plan in full here.