Startup Tribe Welcomes Class of 2013

Not interested in working at Goldman?  Less than thrilled at logging miles with McKinsey?  If you came to HBS because you’re committed to developing the skills and network to build a startup company, you’re not alone.  Join the Startup Tribe.

Do you view these 2 years as a chance to run as fast as possible toward launching your own company?  Are you excited about the two-year runway to brainstorm “the” idea”, and systematically de-risk it through leveraging the incredible HBS resources?  If this hits close to home, then you are the Startup Tribe.

Startup Tribe Launch Party
The Startup Tribe finished the year with a celebration at Om Lounge of ECs committed to running startups as their post-graduation job. Attendees included ECs, partners, RCs, faculty, and members of the Boston startup community. Taken by: Andrew J. Rosenthal

The Startup Tribe is a self-organized, ad-hoc community of students actively working on starting or growing a company while at HBS.  There are no officers or conferences, no dues or resume book.  (Unlike the Entrepreneurship Club, which is a powerful force on campus, and many of us are members).  These activities aren’t new to HBS — the school has always been a fertile ground for entrepreneurship.   But the momentum and success over the last year has lead to a robust set of activities and resources, garnering coverage in The New York Times, Financial Times, Boston Globe, CNN/Fortune, and elsewhere.  Last year’s activities included:

A group trip to South By South West (SXSW) in Austin, (organized by Cynthia Samanian) including discounted badges, access to networking events and parties, and a reception with HBS alumni.

  • 3×3 dinner series (organized by Omar Restom) bringing together 3 HBS tribe members and 3 Harvard computer science undergrads , over a meal.
  • The $50,000 Minimum Viable Product (MVP) fund (organized by Dan Rumennik).  Dan (and other students and faculty) identified “non-market barriers” to HBS companies getting launched, and worked with the administration to launch a by-application fund to support early prototypes and concept testing.  The fund size has already been doubled for the 2011-2012 school year.
  • A series of VC Pitch Days, bringing associates and VPs from 12 top venture capital firms to campus for 1-on-1 pitch meetings with tribe members.  (Organized by Jess Bloomgarden.)
  • The first (soon to be annual) HBS Launch event, recognizing and celebrating ECs fully committed to building a startup upon graduation.  Selected faculty and members of the Boston community joined in a champagne toast in honoring the 30+ students.  (Organizers included Jason Lorentzen.)
  • During informal weekly meetings, Mitch Cohen and Luke Langford led structured group brainstorming sessions.
  • We participated in more than a dozen lunches and dinners with prominent company founders (Micah Rosenbloom, HBS ’03) funders (Fred Wilson; Brad Feld) and thought-leaders replica breitling.  Meals usually had a dozen students, and we often included members of the Harvard Law, Harvard Engineering and Harvard College communities.

This is just a sampling of the events from last year.  And there’s one thing they all have in common: every single event, activity, and trip was planned by students, for students, because one of us perceived a need and, in fulfilling it, invited some others to participate.  This ethos is core to the Startup Tribe: every single person participates in building or planning activities that are personally of interest and broadly beneficial.

Most think the purpose of the group is to increase the number of startups coming out of HBS.  Well, that’s partly true.  The purpose of Startup Tribe is to increase the number of successful startups that come out of HBS.  A recent study that was done on HBS replica watches uk entrepreneurship showed that sections with a higher percent of students who had entrepreneurship experience pre-HBS produced post-HBS entrepreneurs at lower rates than average sections, but the startups that were launched had a higher success rates.  The takeaway here is that starting a company within a community of other entrepreneurs can significantly improve success rates both by challenging the ideas that are more likely to fail and by supporting and improving those that are more likely to succeed.

On a personal note, the Startup Tribe has meant more than success rates and numbers of startups – it has meant community.  The life of an entrepreneur can be one of the loneliest, and having a close-knit community of other student-entrepreneurs going through the exact same highs and lows has been just about the most valuable part of our HBS experience.  Start the journey to find your tribe by joining the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #startuptribe.