Charles Baron wants an agricultural revolution in North America. And with $571.4 million in VC backing and more than 8,000 member farmers spread across the U.S. and Canada, he seems well on his way. A tech company based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Farmers Business Network was co-founded by Harvard MBA Charles Baron to “help save anywhere from 10% to as much as 50% on farm products like fertilizers, ag chemicals, seed — major expense lines for the farm. By building an online manufacturer-direct shipping program, we can save farmers huge amounts of money. It’s highly, highly disruptive.
“Basically what we’re doing is bringing farm commerce online, which it’s not, despite being a multi-tens-of-billions-of-dollars industry,” Baron told Poets&Quants in 2017. “And we’re doing that in a way that’s transparent and fair and easily accessible for farms all across the country.”
Farmers Business Network is essentially a farmer-to-farmer agronomic information network. It uses big data, data science, and machine learning to improve virtually every aspect of the farming process, helping farmers optimize their resources. We love Farmers Business Network because of the impact it is having for farmers across North America and how successful of a business it has been.
Branch Metrics is a true B-school founding story. Stanford GSB MBAs Alex Austin, Mada Seghete, and Mike Molinet all met after enrolling in the full-time MBA program. They weren’t necessarily friends from the beginning, but they knew they’d be a good founding team. So they utilized Stanford’s robust entrepreneurship resources and connections, muddled through two failed ideas, snagged Dmitri Gaskin, a Stanford undergraduate dropout to help program some software, and created the now-unicorn, Branch Metrics.
Branch’s software allows companies to link across platforms to improve user experience and metric tracking. Since its launch in 2014, Branch has raised $367.1 million in VC-backing and has earned a unicorn valuation of more than $1 billion. It has reportedly since had to layoff 20% of its workforce that was nearing 500 earlier this year.
But as for meeting a team and using a school’s resources to launch a massive company, there might not be a more relevant or better story than Branch Metrics. And for that, we include them here.
When Jenna Kerner and Jane Fisher launched Harper Wilde, their bra company, while earning their MBAs from the Wharton School, they did so with one broad goal: keep bra shopping from being the worst.
“Frankly, right now, bras are incredibly expensive,” Kerner told us in 2017. “We’ve been wearing bras since we were teenagers — most women have. It’s something you have to deal with every single day. But a lot of women have taken it as the status quo that you just have to pay $70 for a bra.”
So far, Kerner and Fisher have been able to do just that through Harper Wilde. Since then, the Los Angeles-based company has raised about $6 million in funding and has added a former Victoria’s Secret C-suite member to its board. We picked Harper Wilde to this list because of its roots at Wharton and its ability to snag and maintain a toehold in a very competitive and inundated industry.
OTHER 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY STORIES: