Harvard Business School Launches Course To Help MBAs Scale Their Startups

"Rise Program" will address the challenges of building venture capital-raising, stock-marketing listing companies

Most startups fail. Harvard Business School wants to change that, with the launch last week of its “Rise Program”, which will help HBS grads in New York City accelerate the growth of their ventures.

The program will help entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of building culture, hiring employees, developing leadership skills, managing boards, raising funds, optimizing sales and marketing channels, and growing from a handful of employees to hundreds.

Participants in the program must have raised a minimum of $1 million in funding, and their company must be revenue generating.

“There is considerable anecdotal evidence regarding how to scale, but resulting advice does not apply across all companies equally,” said Thomas Eisenmann, faculty chair of Harvard’s Rock Center for Entrepreneurship.

“In the RISE program, HBS faculty members, alongside seasoned entrepreneurs, will convey best practices and frameworks to help entrepreneurs address startup challenges that can make or break a company.

“The program has been developed to leverage extensive faculty research on what it takes to successfully scale an enterprise.”

Harvard’s business school is among the most successful at producing venture capital-raising, stock-marketing listing alumni companies.

More than 1,000 Harvard MBAs have founded around 960 companies which have collectively raised $22.4 billion in venture capital — more than any other business school, according to data provider PitchBook.

Alumni entrepreneurs have also founded 13 unicorns — private businesses valued at or above $1 billion — almost double the number of its closest school rival, according to analysis by venture capital firm NextView.

Harvard’s latest career report shows that 4% of Harvard’s MBA cohort founded a company within three months of graduation, earning average base salaries of $130,000. However, the true number is likely to be higher still, as many graduates go on to found firms later in their careers.

Good examples of Harvard MBA ventures include Zynga, the games-maker founded in 2007 which raised $1 billion at its IPO, and Grab, southeast Asia’s answer to Uber, which has raised more than $4 billion in venture capital, including a $2 billion injection from SoftBank and other investors last year.

Jodi Gernon, director of the Rock Center, added: “RISE will provide a focused approach for founders to learn from faculty and peers, discuss issues around scaling, and be inspired.

“Each session will consist of curated content led by our faculty and successful alumni entrepreneurs and investors. At the end of each session, the Rock Center will host a roundtable discussion, where founders can candidly discuss their challenges or offer guidance and advice to peers.

“With this program, founders will be better equipped to handle the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship.”

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