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Harvard B-School Bolsters Entrepreneurship Offering With New York Start-Up Studio

HBS alumni at forefront of city's start-up surge

By  Marco De Novellis

Tue Jan 12 2016

Keen to consolidate its reputation for entrepreneurship, Harvard Business School has announced the opening of a start-up studio in New York City.

Launched in collaboration with the school’s campus-based Arthur Rock Centre for Entrepreneurship in Boston, the 3,000 square foot facility aims to support HBS students in their entrepreneurial pursuits long after graduation.

The choice of location for the school’s first ever off-campus facility for its graduate entrepreneurs was obvious.

“HBS alumni in New York have been at the forefront of the surge in start-ups there,” said director of the Arthur Rock Centre, Jodi Gernon.

“For years, many of them have returned to HBS to interact, seek advice, and network with others facing similar challenges,” she added. “Now they can do that by staying in New York.”

An impressive array of HBS alumni are behind some of the city’s start-up success stories.

Rent the Runway, a New York-based designer dress and accessory rental company, was co-founded by two HBS students — Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss — and now boasts more than 200 designer partners.

Birchbox, an online service which sends its subscribers beauty product samples, was founded by HBS alumni Hayley Barna and Katie Beauchamp. It has over one million active members.

Now, a whole new generation of HBS alumni are moving into the New York studio, who are determined to attract big venture capital investment and make their mark in the city’s start-up space.

Among the diverse array of burgeoning businesses present are an online fitness video platform, a fintech firm, a food delivery business, and a company providing nutritional drinks for expectant mothers.

To gain access to the studio, a start-up must be made up of under seven employees, have seed funding of more than $500,000, and a New York-based HBS alumnus as its founder.

Avani Patel, a serial entrepreneur and Columbia Business School MBA who is the new facility’s director, is excited for what lies ahead.

“I am delighted to be able to share my knowledge and experience with HBS alumni who are eager to make a difference in the world by creating and developing new products and services,” she said.

Start-up teams will reside at the studio for up to 18 months and will benefit from a range of events, including “founder forums” and industry expert councils; direct access to an exciting network of HBS alumni, mentors and influencers; and the close support of Avani.

“Harvard Business School has proved itself to be the leader in the entrepreneurial space,” she said.

In November last year, the Princeton Review ranked Harvard’s MBA program as the number one US school for entrepreneurship, based on factors including the number of the school’s alumni involved in entrepreneurial ventures and the level of school support for those ventures.