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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 (PART2)  

2016-11-24 23:46:04|  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 (PART2)





This year, Harvard Business School dominates our list of the Top 100 MBA Startups, with the number of top-funded startups launched by HBS graduates nearly doubling those from Stanford. At the same time, why have so many HBS ventures been able to attract so much venture capital?

Gernon: We look at leveraging our network in a way that leads to connecting people to investors. [Take] our New Venture Competition with over 140 judges. These investors get to see the students so they get exposed to some of the cream of the crop in the venture capital community. While they’re not investing in the students right then-and-there, they’ve established a relationship that students can take beyond school. But it really comes down to the students, their ideas, and their ability to execute. We just provide a very rigorous, supportive environment to really help them be successful in that way.

Eisenmann: I think that’s very well put. We have a strong network – and that allows someone to read your email and maybe have the first meeting…A large, large fraction of venture capitalists are HBS alums. So that gets them the courtesy of perhaps a first meeting. It takes strong teams beyond that to get the next meeting and then the funding. And our teams are strong.

If you look across the startups that our students and alums have launched over the last five to ten years, you’ll find that a lot of them are disruptors. Rent the Runway is taking a $1000 party dress and figuring out a way for you to rent it for $150. Blue Apron is figuring out how to prepare a meal, chop the components in a shipping container that will keep it fresh and ship it across the country. Birch box is providing makeup, beauty and wellness samples on a subscription basis in a box. CloudFlare is a low end disruption of the content delivery network business, roviding for free the service that incumbents would charge tens or hundreds of thousands for. 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.

We’re not the only school that does this. I’d actually point to Wharton as a great example. If you look at Warby Parker for reinventing the eyeglass – It’s fantastic!  Or ZocDoc, scheduling meetings with doctors. We’ve puzzled over why our teams are so good at this. I think a couple of things are going on. First is 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. Second, they really cover the geography. Among this year’s 41 teams, 12 were in San Francisco, 12 were in New York City, seven were in Boston, five were in other U.S. cities and five were international. So you’ll see a dispersion of those teams across the country and across the world that’s not true of other top business schools. [That’s particularly true with] entrepreneurs who launch businesses on the east coast. If you launch a business in New York City, you’re embedded with incumbents. So if you’re doing a fashion tech business, you’re surrounded by the elite retailers and big fashion houses. If you’re launching an ad tech business, there’s Madison Avenue right next to you. If you’re launching fintech, you’re surrounded by hedge funds and giant brokerage firms. You can hire people who understand those businesses. You can do partnerships with the incumbents. And there’s something in particular about east coast entrepreneurship that has this flavor that leads to some of our most interesting disruptors.


What are the most popular electives for those who are interested in doing a startup at Harvard? What do those courses actually teach? (Are those courses oversubscribed and difficult to get into? What types of interest are they seeing in entrepreneurship now compared to previous years?)

Eisenmann: All of our entrepreneurship electives are oversubscribed. The biggest (and oldest) one isEntrepreneurial Finance, built by Bill Sahlman over the years. The course teaches exactly what you’d expect – how to think through how much money you need, when you should raise the money, from whom you should raise the money, and under what terms should you raise the money. [You look at] what types of investors, whether they be venture capitalists, angels, etc., will be valued added. What should the term sheet look like? Fantastic course! It’s case-based, but very practical. Like a lot of our case-based courses, it has tons of guests. I would say that in Entrepreneurial Finance, they probably have guests in three quarters of the classes.

Launching Tech Ventures is about internet software mobile-based businesses taught by Jeffrey Bussgang and Jeffrey Rayport this year. I launched this course five years ago. Some 20% of last year’s class went into technology companies, including some people who launched technology startups. An awful lot of students are going off into tech companies who aren’t founders (though a lot of them aspire to do that someday). They’re going off into product management, marketing, and business development.

So we knew that we needed a class that was entrepreneurship-themed, but exposed students to the management challenges they faced if they went into one of those functions. Launching Tech Ventures cycles through the major functions of a technology company, including product, engineering, sales, marketing, business development, etc.

There is a Venture Capital and Private Equity course that teaches what you’d expect. Instead of being from the entrepreneur’s perspective, this one is from the investor’s perspective – how you organize a firm; from whom you raise money (endowments, institutional investors, pension funds, and so forth); how you manage the diligence process; and, as a partnership, figuring out the types of investments you’re going to make. It has featured an investment game over the years, a simulation where [students] play the role of investor and make decisions.

Another of the most popular electives is Founder’s Dilemmas. It has been around for several years. This one helps students understand some of the key choices that an aspiring entrepreneur would make in the early stages of launching a venture. When do I found – at what point in my life? With whom do I found? That’s predicated on a lot of research that shows how the stability varies if you have close friends or family members in there versus co-workers or complete strangers. From whom do I take money? How do we split the equity among the founding team? When you don’t have outside equity yet, who has what share of the company? And how do you make those first few crucial early hires? What kind of people do we look for? The course is case-based, but with a lot of exercises, simulations, and role plays.

And the last one I’d mention is my own pride and joy, Product Management 101. It’s all learning by doing. Students take an idea for a software application and move it from concept through design. Specify it. We give them a little money. They hire a developer, go off and get the app built and launched, and then improve it along the way. About half the students in that course are aspiring founders who are working on something they hope to keep going after school. The other half are going into big tech companies or startups in the product role.

According to your employment reports, roughly 17% of HBS graduates are entering entrepreneurship immediately after graduation (9% starting and 8% joining startups – defined as three years or younger). Do you think the interest in entrepreneurship has peaked or do you see this number growing in the coming years? (Why or why not?)

Gernon: I wouldn’t say it has peaked. I don’t think it is growing at an intense rate. We definitely have more students coming each year to HBS saying they’re interested in entrepreneurship. If you look at ourEntrepreneurship Club, it has over 600 students, a third of the whole school.

Part of it is people are very interested in looking at becoming their own boss. Also, they find it very attractive as an alternative career opportunity. It’s funny, I was talking to Hayley Barna at Birchbox. I said, “Why did you start your company when you did?” She said, “Well, I was graduating in 2010 and there were no jobs. We had to.” So even though the economy is improving, we’re still seeing a bigger interest in entrepreneurship. Tom and I have this debate on what would happen if the (economic) bubble burst. I’m a big believer that you’re going to see an even bigger interest in entrepreneurship.

Eisenmann: It’s growing in ways that we think is healthy. Students are making well-informed choices. If you go back and look at the dotcom boom, the percentage founding directly out of HBS peaked in the year 2000 at 11%. And that number had jumped from 6% to 11% from 1999 to 2000. We haven’t seen that kind of spike in here, even though valuations are very high out there now. It’s been very slow, steady growth.

Millennials, as a generation, are really more interested than their predecessors in building stuff and the impact you can have. If you’re a Millennial looking to make an impact and change the world, you can go to work for a big company and have a big impact. But if you’re successful as an entrepreneur, you can really amplify your personal impact.

If there was no such thing as student debt after graduation, about what percentage of HBS students would you see starting up their own company?

Gernon: We have actually a Rock Loan Reduction program that we offer to students for founding companies. I think anyone who wants to can take advantage of that if they’re founding a company and have put in a legitimate, viable reason for getting that loan reduction. In my honest opinion, I think that if you want to start a company, you’re going to start it whether you have the HBS loans or not. It’s those who are even more determined – the ones who say, ‘I don’t care if I have these loans.’ They’re out there because this is what they want to do and a loan isn’t going to stop them.

Eisenmann: I agree with that completely. You’re allowed to pay yourself a salary once you go out and raise outside money. It’s not a big salary compared to what you could earn if you went to Goldman Sachs. But you can pay yourself and pay your rent. And you can stay in a holding pattern for whatever is due on your student loans. So what we’re really talking about here is that window between graduation and when you raise outside funding. For most teams, that’s somewhere in the range of six months to (at most) a year. Most determined entrepreneurs, as Jodi says, can scrape things together and make ends meet for six to 12 months while they figure out if they have a viable idea.


Let’s talk about the future of the Rock Center and Harvard’s entrepreneurship program. What are two or three of the biggest developments that we can expect in the program in the next few years?

Gernon: One thing that I think is really exciting is the moving of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to be across the street from HBS. I’m an engineering undergrad. If you can team up the technical world with business school students, they can look at technology and figure out how to take these ideas and build them into a new business. I also think the proximity and the growth in investment going on over there is just going to create more opportunity for HBS.

Eisenmann: What I would add is the alumni engagement efforts like the New York City [Startup] Studio. Once we get the studio working, we’ll be able to plug current students into the programming of the studio. We’ll have 10 teams (We have nine right now) and it’ll grown when we move into bigger space. And those teams will be natural places to have internships. We have the Rock Summer Fellows that Jodi talked about before. Now, we’ll have a director of the studio in New York City who can plug the New York Rock Center fellows into internships and find mentors for them. So this synergy that we’ve talked about between our alumni and our current students gets stronger and stronger as we boost our alumni engagement programs.

Let’s say a stranger came up to you and asked, “Is an MBA a worthwhile investment for an aspiring entrepreneur?” How would you answer that question (and why)?

Gernon: I would definitely say yes. First of all, not everyone decides to be an entrepreneur in their early 20s when they’re right out of undergrad. They’re still trying to figure out which way is up…It’s not even when they get out of business school. It’s when they get out into the real world and see opportunities that they want to take and launch as an entrepreneur. If all you want to do is be an entrepreneur, you might be able to argue that you don’t even need to be an undergrad. What I think, as an MBA, is to go back to what HBS teaches you. It’s really to think, it’s not just the day-to-day execution, but also the longer term execution, planning and strategy. I’ll have to say this too: The network you can tap into for advice, opportunities and connections can be huge. So it’s an individual choice, but I can’t see what you wouldn’t gain by getting your MBA.

What do you see as the three keys to success for student-launched enterprises?

Gernon: A predictor of success is first-and-foremost perseverance. Starting a company has a lot of ups-and-downs. It’s those students who take those downs and figure out how to overcome these issues and don’t give up who tend to be most successful. I think they look at failure as a chance to learn rather than just, ‘Oh, my idea is bad.’ The second key success factor is a willingness to learn and change and go with the market and where it’s taking you. It really is a mindset and that willingness to work hard and being open to connecting with as many people as possible in overcoming all of these obstacles. I would say perseverance as well as adaptability and openness to change and willingness to go the distance [are the keys].

Eisenmann: No one out there who studies entrepreneurship has a clear handle on success and failure rates. What we do know is what it looks like once you get seed funding. From that point on, 60% of the firms that raise institutional seed money (meaning from an institutional investor as opposed to individual angels) will probably raise a Series A. And X% in Series A will go on to Series B. We know what that funnel looks like – and it’s brutal by the way. Essentially, depending on whether you count losing most or all of your money, the failure rates for venture-backed startups are going to be in the range of 75% to as high as 90%.

Problem is, there are a bunch of people who aspire to raise seed funding. And that can range from, ‘I had an idea in the shower this morning and I abandoned it in the afternoon because I got distracted at lunch’ to ‘I’ve been working for two years, nights and weekends, and I just can’t sell it to angel or seed investors.’ The definitions of the denominator are so elastic that I don’t think you ever could know what the success rates are.

What factors should prospective MBA students consider when assessing business schools for entrepreneurship?

Gernon: The classwork is very important. What kinds of programs they have outside the class to support it [is another]. I think the activity level of the club, which really demonstrates the community out there that is helping you to come up with ideas when you’re interested in entrepreneurship [is important]. Those are three key areas.

I also think – and maybe this is just selfishly looking at HBS – that you have to look at the diversity of the students that are coming to the school. We have students who are from consumer products, fashion tech, fintech, adtech, software, biotech. food startups, technology startups, manufacturing. That diversity lends itself really well to finding disruptive ideas that will make a difference. That, on top of the global nature of a school and what’s happening outside of your select metropolitan areas around your school also makes a big difference. You start to look at all the other things happening in other countries and you see growth opportunities there like a Grab Taxi. They took an idea and put it in a different country.

Along with the diversity of the students and the extracurricular activities, I think the professors [are important]…The professors here are so open to meeting with students, making these connections,  mentoring them, and asking them the hard questions. I think that’s really valuable for students. Lastly, look at the alumni network. Do you have people coming back who can inspire and support you and answer questions?

Eisenmann: I’d build on Jodi’s diversity point and go a step further. I don’t want to diminish in any way what we do around entrepreneurship here. Frankly, if I were an aspiring entrepreneur choosing a business school, I wouldn’t pay a lot of attention to the quality of the entrepreneurship program. I’d pay attention to the quality of the business school writ large.

To the diversity point that Jodi makes, Harvard Business School’s structure requiring you to sit in a section and take the same 11 classes with same 90 people (the required curriculum) is an incredibly powerful device. I’ve had, as an entrepreneurship educator, fantasies about taking one tenth of the students (a section) who are really fervently interested in entrepreneurship and doing a customized version of the first year for them. I would take marketing, finance, strategy and so forth and I would design (along with my colleagues) a first year that is entrepreneurial marketing, entrepreneurial finance, and entrepreneurial strategy…When I try to sell that idea to students, they say, ‘No! No! No! We don’t want that at all. What we want is to sit in that first year section with someone who is doing a hedge fund or a classmate who’s working in a big packaged goods company in Brazil. We can be entrepreneurs the rest of our careers. But when are we going to be sitting with those other people? And by the way, we came here to learn basic business, marketing, finance, strategy, accounting, and so forth.’ You need a great diverse student body. You need a great alumni pool. And you need a great way of teaching the basics. If you find three places with all of that, then choose between them based on the quality of the entrepreneurship programming and courses. But pick a great business school first.







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