Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Social To Tech
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. CPG Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
NYU Stern | Mr. Brolic Bro
GRE 305, GPA 3.63
Tuck | Mr. Running To The Future
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
London Business School | Ms. Audit Meme
GMAT 710, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Wharton | Mr. Mobility Entrepreneur
GMAT 760, GPA 1st Division
Harvard | Mr. Cricket From Kashmir
GMAT 730, GPA 8.5/10
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Aspiring Consultant
GMAT 690, GPA 3.68
HEC Paris | Mr. Analytics Consultant
GRE 326, GPA 9.05/10
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Manager
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Tuck | Mr. Land Management
GMAT 760, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seller
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Mr. Researcher
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Mr. Beer Guy
GRE 306, GPA 4.0
Harvard | The Insurer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Tepper | Mr. Automotive Strategy
GMAT 670 - 700 on practice tests, GPA 3.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Backyard Homesteader
GRE 327, GPA 3.90
Wharton | Mr. Finance to MBB
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Ms. Social Impact Consulting
GRE 330, GPA 3.28
Tepper | Mr. Insurance Dude
GMAT 660, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Indian Marketer
GMAT 680, GPA 8.9/10
NYU Stern | Mr. Middle Eastern Warrior
GMAT 720 (Estimated), GPA 3.0

Harvard Coaxes 150 Startup Ideas Out Of Its MBA Students


The goal for Saskin’s team and all the others was to launch an actual business by April 18th. On that day, each team had to do another ten-minute presentation before investors began trading yet again. Saskin, who acts as chief financial officer in charge of contracts and accounting, along with teammates Pat Griffin and Maxine Botesazan, presented to investors. They showed screenshots of their website and a slick marketing video to further explain the concept.

At Yenta, users can sign up as either a “Yenta,” a matchmaker, or a “Catch”, a friend who’s ready to be set up. Yentas can log in using Facebook, quickly discover which of their friends are on the site as either Yentas or Catches, and then start setting up their single friends. The team has a three-tier “freemium” business model. Anyone can use the site for free, but if Yentas want to match more than five friends, they have to fork over $1. Mostly, though, the team hopes make money by offering “strategic advertising” targeted to the matching and dating experience.

During the ensuring two-hour trading session, students made more than 14,000 trades. Yenta stock shot up by some 50% to trade in the $60 range. But the day’s highest closing price went to IvyKids, a startup that is launching an educational iPad application that bridges the virtual and physical worlds. IvyKids, which closed at nearly $360 a share, has already secured funding from outside Harvard and recruited an advisory board member from Disney.


The best of the concepts will be presented to external judges who will come to campus on May 14th for what Harvard is calling “IPO Day.” One winner will be selected from each of the ten HBS sections that make up the Class of 2013. “We’ll have text voting like American Idol,” says Phoebe Anderson, a FIELD coordinator.

So far, students seem to be fairly positive a about the process. “It’s been a great experience,” says Saskin. “There have been a lot of ups and downs. We’re the guinea pigs.”

Obviously, not all of the ideas will make it. Those that don’t enter what Harvard calls a “failed business track,” where the rest of the term is spent on autopsies to reflect on why the ideas didn’t quite work. “It’s impossible to imagine that 150 businesses based on teams that had never worked together would create 150 successes,” adds Professor MacCormack. “The going-to-market track is about selling and going to customers and proving your idea. And the other is understanding that failure is a very natural outcome in entrepreneurship.”

At Launch Day on April 18th, nine out of the 150 teams went to “failed business track,” though more teams are expected to fold over the next week or so. “It’s probably better for their learning to step back and reflect at this time rather than push forward,” says MacCormack.

And for one enterprising team, failure became an opportunity: the group is launching a business called “failed business track” that sells t-shirts to the losing teams. As the group explains on its e-commerce website, “A lot of funny things happen to you at business college. We’re here to make those moments of hilarity, joy, and, well, embarrassment, permanent.”


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.