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2009年7月份,我给一个老朋友(Simon FT-MBA,2010春季班)为申请MBA而写的Essay提了几点比较关键的修改建议。后来,她成功拿到Simon的Offer。再后来,她建议我做留学DIY咨询方面的工作,并向我介绍了我的第一个客户。最终,我的第一个客户也成功拿到几个TOP16商学院的面试并顺利拿到Duke Fuqua商学院MBA的录取。 本人毕业于上海复旦大学管理学院国际企业管理系,属于商科科班出身并且做过管理工作、有领导经验的人士。


留学选校:Inside Harvard Business School’s Startup Machine (PART1)  

2016-11-24 23:42:03|  分类: 学校与选校 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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留学选校:Inside Harvard Business School’s Startup Machine (PART1)





Harvard Business School has been described as the “West Point of Capitalism.” Such a moniker conveys a sense of establishment and tradition, of Fortune 500 juggernauts and company men. Reality is, capitalism is based on creation and reinvention, identifying needs and building markets. In this tradition, HBS has been a pioneer.

The roster of Harvard Business School entrepreneurs is long and legendary: Michael Bloomberg, Steve Schwarzman, Scott Cook, and Salman Khan among them. In 1947, HBS launched its first entrepreneurship course – “Management of New Enterprises” – for veterans looking to become their own boss after being shackled by military rules and hierarchies. From there on, startup courses at HBS were consistently oversubscribed. In the 1980s, the school developed an entrepreneurship curriculum, providing serious research credibility to the fledgling discipline.

Now, HBS ranks among the top graduate entrepreneurial programs in the world. The stats don’t lie. School alumni founded 42 of the Top 100 MBA startups of the past five years based on funding. According to Tom Eisenmann, the faculty co-chair of HBS’ Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship ranks near finance as the top concentration at the school. In the Class of 2015, 9% of students joined a startup (defined as an organization that is three years or younger), with graduates making a $120,000 median to start. The class included 84 founders, with 55% of them finding a co-founder at HBS. Furthermore, 37% of the class’ entrepreneurs were entering the tech space, with another 30% starting up in financial services. Oh – and over a third of the students are part of the school’s Entrepreneurship Club.

So what’s behind the success and popularity of HBS’ entrepreneurship program? Recently, Poets&Quants sat down with Eisenmann and Jodi Gernon, the director of the school’s Rock Center. During the conversation, it was clear that students enjoyed several benefits beyond the Harvard brand.


For one, the program enables students to develop entrepreneurial experience while tapping into the school’s vaunted alumni network. At the school’s New Venture Competition – which draws over 100 student teams – HBS recruits 140 judges who rank among the “cream of the crop in the venture capital community,” says Gernon. This exposure offers HBS students two unique advantages. To start, students are introduced to potential investors who get a first-hand look at the quality of their work. “While [the judges are] not investing in the students right then-and-there,” Gernon notes, “they’ve established a relationship that students can take beyond school.” At the same time, students gain valuable and personalized insights into their ventures. “They actually come away with detailed feedback on how they can make their idea work more effectively,” Gernon adds.

HBS also continues to support their entrepreneurial-minded alumni long after graduation. Two years ago, for example, the school launched its Rock 100 program, which brings together company founders in a “safe,” “private,” and “intimate” setting with like-minded people to discuss the unique issues facing them.

Eisenmann concedes that a “large, large fraction of venture capitalists are HBS alums,” giving Harvard grads a better shot of having their pitches read by potential investors. However, the bigger story is the deep synergy between HBS alumni and students that aces as a force multiplier for both parties. “Success breeds success,” Eisenmann adds. “We’ve had years and years of Harvard MBAs launching businesses… [You can] bring them back to campus and they’ve only been out six years. Students can look at those alums and say, ‘Wow! They did it while they were here. We can do it too.’ A lot of HBS students will end up interning in these startups run by recent grads. It just makes it that much easier to keep things going.”


Eisenmann and Gernon both credit the case method for the school’s wave of entrepreneurial success. To Gernon, cases prepare students for the longer game that requires far more planning and strategy. “It’s easy to start a company,” Gernon argues. “It’s harder to take it and grow it – and do it in a way where it can build market value. The case study and the classes teach them how to manage, not just how to start.”

Equally, Eisenmann adds, cases also train students how to look at all sides of the equation. “The case method really does train students to think through an industry holistically and understand business models and to take them apart and put them back together.” As a result, he views many HBS startups as disruptors. “There’s a theme if you look across the startups that our students and alums while they were here have launched over the last 5-10 years. If you look at Rent the Runway – taking a $1000 party dress and figuring out a way for you to rent it for $150… Birchbox – the makeup, beauty and wellness samples on a subscription basis in a box… There is a cleverness and a vision to these businesses. They see an opportunity, they understand an industry, and they do something new and different and powerful with the business model.”

Of course, HBS’s high expectations and heavy workloads don’t go away just because someone takes the entrepreneurial track. “We see a lot of students fall out of the entrepreneurial program because they realize how intense and difficult it is to start a company,” Gernon points out. We don’t lighten up their load or anything just because they’re starting a company. If anything, they have even more to do. So I think it gives people a real taste of what it’s going to be like post-HBS.”

What are the keys to entrepreneurial success? Why is an MBA a worthwhile investment for entrepreneurial success?  Has student interest in entrepreneurship peaked? Find out the answers to these questions – and many more – in our in-depth interview with Eisenmann and Gernon.


In recent years, Harvard Business School – and the Rock Center For Entrepreneurship, in particular – have become a destination for aspiring entrepreneurs. What do you attribute your success to?

Eisenmann: I’d point to at least three things that are important in the success that we’ve had and in attracting students interested in entrepreneurship…It isn’t for everyone. We collectively spend a lot of time making sure that students who are drawn to entrepreneurship know what they are getting into. It’s hard. And it ends in failure for a lot. So it’s really important that students think through their values and motivations. I think we’ve done a pretty good job with that.

An example of that is our required FIELD course in the first year. In the third (and final) module, all 900 students in the first year class will conceive and launch a business in small teams. Some of them will do that and hate it. And many of them will do it and say, ‘Hey, I think this is really cool. We started with nothing but an idea and at the other end we have a real business here with real customers. And we’re selling a product that people really like.’ And that happens early enough in their career here in the MBA program to spend their summer and the second year of their MBA program taking their business to the next level, exploring another one, or thinking about joining a startup.

[Along with] that FIELD course, which is now in its fifth year, we’ve had a required first year case-based course on entrepreneurship that all students have been taking for fifteen years. Both of those core classroom experiences give students early exposure, particularly people who may not have been drawn to entrepreneurship. Because of our scale – and the interests of our student and faculty – we have an unusually rich number of second year electives. If you’re interested, we have advanced courses that will challenge you, build your skills, and give you some new ideas.

The classroom, both in the first and second years, is a big part of the program. The Rock Center (and the extracurricular programming that Rock does) is best of breed. We’ve got the usual lineup of programs that you see at a lot of schools. And we’ve been doing it for a long time. They’re all exceptionally well-designed and executed. So that helps.

The third thing is Harvard’s Innovation Lab. It’s five years old. And it has done a great job of connecting Harvard Business School MBAs to peers from other graduate schools and from our undergraduate program (including the engineering programs). And that boosts the scale of entrepreneurship, but also gets students mixing with classmates who bring different perspectives and new ideas.

And the last thing I’d say is success breeds success. We’ve had years and years of Harvard MBAs launching businesses. And those folks, especially through the case method, come back as case protagonists. Students can look at those alums and say, ‘Wow! They did it while they were here. We can do it too.’ Beyond that, [if you look at] internships, a lot of HBS students will end up interning in these startups run by recent grads. Again, it just makes it that much easier to keep things going. It works very well for us in particular because of the case method.

Gernon: We really leverage that alumni network extensively throughout all of our Rock programming, whether they’re mentors or entrepreneurs-in-residence. We have 19 entrepreneurs-in-residence, all of whom have started companies and are either on their next startup or investing in new companies. They understand what investors are looking for. And they’re utilized 100% of the time when they’re here. They come in for office hours. They’re very reputable entrepreneurs who are involved and really lend credibility and inspire the students quite a bit.

Another advantage that Harvard Business School has is its renowned faculty (and a larger number of faculty in the area of entrepreneurship). Could you speak to that? 

Eisenmann: I think that’s right. Every school is organized somewhat differently. HBS is organized into 10 academic units for faculty organization. [It’s] just what you’d expect – marketing, strategy, organizational behavior and so forth. One of those ten is entrepreneurial management. The faculty who study entrepreneurship in other schools might be nested into one of the different areas depending on how the school is organized. There might be a management unit or a technology, innovation and entrepreneurship unit. Some folks might be scattered across strategy and organizational behavior. To have a group of faculty – and I believe we are the second largest unit of the school after finance – is different.

We’re running a seminar where our own faculty and visitors from other schools are also sharing leading edge ideas. We’re building courses and are responsible for staffing those courses. This unit is probably 20 years old at the school (and we’ve had a long tradition before that of professors who specialized in and had strong interest [in entrepreneurship]. To have our group raise it to the level of an organizational unit on par with marketing and finance really means you have a lot of people thinking hard about entrepreneurship and doing leading edge research and course development.


Three of the Rock Center’s big initiatives are the New Venture Competition, the Rock Accelerator, and the Rock 100. Could you tell us a little bit about each and how they help students and alumni gain entrepreneurial experience and increase their chances for startup success?

Gernon: The New Venture Competition – We call it an entrepreneurial journey and we have more than 100 student teams participate each year. It’s an opportunity for them to take an idea and put it out there to judges and get feedback. And they get this is in multiple stages, as well as learn about the more practical components of starting a company. [It includes] everything from how to use a lawyer most effectively to how do you incorporate to intellectual property to learning to do research to figure out how to bring your product to the market.

That really comes to a head at what we call Super Saturday, where we have over 140 judges who come to campus from all different industries who are subject matter experts and investors. The students actually have the opportunity to pitch to these judges. And they don’t just walk away with a score. They actually come away with detailed feedback on how they can make their idea work more effectively. And then it comes to our finale. It tends to be those who are further along who have demonstrated significant success. We select winners in three different tracks. One is in the business track (which is for students), the social entrepreneurship track (again for students), and the alumni track – where we get teams from 14 different regions from around the world who come back and compete.

Then there’s the Rock Accelerator. I like to call it our Y Combinator-like program because it’s very geared towards students who are extremely focused on starting a company when they leave business school. They are pretty serious. We do a lot of customized programming [here], including mentor matching. Students get a lot more exposure to investors who can really give them this detailed feedback. And we give them funding to actually go off and explore. It’s not a ton of funding but it’s enough to get a marketing business plan off the ground, to do testing, get feedback, and make changes.

We also do a Rock Summer Fellows program. This is an opportunity where students can come to campus never having done anything entrepreneurial and take the summer between their first and second years and go explore either founding a company or joining a startup. You’ll see a lot of investment bankers and consultants who take advantage of this opportunity to explore something very different from what they were doing before and it gives them a chance to say, ‘Do I really want to pursue path or pursue entrepreneurship?’ We have some who go back to their original plan and others who decide, ‘Hey, I really like this and I want to continue.’

The Rock 100 Summit is a new initiative – it’s two years old – and this has been one of the more successful programs in regards to engaging alumni around topics that are very useful to them. As anyone will tell you, being a founder is one of the loneliest jobs. And our entrepreneurs really found that coming back to campus and learning from other entrepreneurs in a setting that was safe and private and where they could discuss the challenges of founding companies was immensely helpful to them as they were building their businesses.

The feedback from entrepreneurs is that they are amazed how beneficial this is to their companies with how they are able to connect with other founders in their cities. And they’re able to reconnect with faculty in the school [as well]. So it has been a learning experience for us and a learning experience for them.

Eisenmann: The secret sauce [with the Rock 100 Summit] is that we did focus groups at the start to find out what they were interested in. They said, ‘Please, not another conference where you have panels with three people in the front and a moderator asking questions.’ We interviewed everyone in advance of the summit to find out what their most pressing issues were as entrepreneurs and [then] put them in small groups based on having a shared interest and put a more seasoned entrepreneur and a case method faculty member in charge of leading the discussion with each of those groups. As Jodi said, we made it safe, private, but very, very personal. So you’d have entrepreneurs talking about, ‘I hate my co-founder and I think we’re on the verge of a professional divorce. What do I do?’ So they’re surrounded by some other founders who’ve worked through the ups and downs and so forth. We’ve never seen an alumni event that was as well-received across everything the school does. This was a huge hit. We’ve got a formula for engaging certainly our entrepreneurial alumni. And peers across the school are copying this format because it works in healthcare and marketing just as well as entrepreneurship.







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