You Won’t Believe Who Harvard Business School Just Rejected

Male teacher

Mr. Non-IIT Analytics


  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.2 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in engineering from a non-IIT but top ten engineering school in India
  • Work experience includes two years at ZS Associates, a niche analytics firm; then left the company for a nine-month stint at a startup that failed; and two years at another analytics firm (not very well known) where I work with senior vice presidents of a Fortune 500 firm. Have worked with clients across eight countries on a change management project involving about 1,000 employees.
  • Also co-founded a mobile app company with a user base of 25,000 and a turnover of $75,000 in the social welfare and mobile governance space
  • Extracurricular involvement in Indian traditions such as yoga, vedas, ayurveda (Think Steve Jobs in his earlier life), avid reader of business books, marathon runner, organized fests in college and have done extensive social work, including teaching under privileged children, giving presentations to college juniors on how to land a job
  • Goal: To create a firm and run it back in India, this time better prepared with a relevant skillset
  • Other factors: No promotions, low GPA, and in the “non-IIT wannabe lot”
  • Also dinged by Stanford
  • Male Indian

Sandy’s Analysis: You’ve had too many second-tier jobs, a low GPA from a non-elite school, and as for entrepreneurship experience, your ace in the hole, the ONLY thing that schools like Harvard and Stanford respect in that regard are:

1. Venture capital-backed companies and some proof that a third party thinks you are ok.

2. Sale of your company for big money (sorta same as 1 able), or in rare cases, HUGE numbers of users, revenue, and press coverage.

Other than that, all startups are hobbies in the mind of Harvard and Stanford adcoms.

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