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How to Explore Entrepreneurship at Harvard

Entrepreneurship is one of the most exciting fields to be involved in at Harvard but with so many resources it can be tough to figure out what’s best for you! Luckily, our MCS PAF Matthew Andrews gathered resources to share how to engage with the innovation community at Harvard, especially for aspiring student founders!

  • The Lemann Program on Creativity and Entrepreneurship offers two courses CE10 in the Fall (formerly LPCE 101) – a studio lab teaching creativity and entrepreneurship basics and CE11 in the Spring (formerly LPCE 102) designed for students with existing ventures in the early stages of development with the goal of launching the venture by term’s end. They have a number of mentors you can learn from as well as opportunities to get funding. Sign up here to receive emails and get involved
  • EC 1021: Using Markets to Solve Social Problems is taught in the fall demonstrates how one can use the power of the free market to address some of the most vexing social and economic problems of our time, with a particular emphasis on issues that plague minority communities and women.
  • Field Course: Field X (Fall) and Field Y (Spring) at HBS. While these are primarily for HBS students, it is available to Harvard cross registration through a petition and application. Field X is designed to enable students to develop and grow their businesses and Field Y is for students who took Field X and who are still running and growing their businesses and/or students who are starting and/or running businesses in Spring of their EC year. 
  • ENG-SCI 95R: Startup R & D taught both in the Spring and Fall allows students to do field-based work to develop their existing startups or explore new ideas and opportunities for startup design.
  • Engineering Sciences 139/239: Innovation in Science and Engineering in the fall allows students to explore factors and conditions contributing to innovation in science and engineering; how important problems are found, defined and solved; roles of teamwork and creativity; and applications of these methods to other endeavors.
  • Engineering Sciences 94: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Practical and Academic Insights is taught in the spring. This course aims to provide undergraduates with an introduction to entrepreneurship and its implications for innovation and is taught mainly through Case studies
  • COMPSCI 179: Design of Useful and Usable Interactive Systems taught in the Fall covers skills and techniques necessary to design innovative interactive products that are useful, usable and that address important needs of people other than yourself. 

  • College:
    • Harvard Undergraduate Capital Partners works with VC companies to provide actionable insights for VC diligence and source deals for investors across the country.
      • HUCP alongside Harvard Undergraduate Consulting for Business and the Environment (CBE) Ventures houses the Innovation Fund which aims to support early-stage entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds by providing equity-free grants to any Harvard-affiliated founder with a vision and the drive to make that vision a reality. 
    • Harvard Undergraduate Venture Capital Group works with VC companies to source deals and hosts a speaker series, an annual entrepreneurship summit, and founders happy hour.
    • Harvard Ventures helps to educate and work with founders and those interested in the world of venture capital through a semester long comp 
    • Harvard Student Agencies – Cronin Center for Enterprise is HSA’s hub for business education, alumni engagement, and entrepreneurship. They have an interview bootcamp as well as Business School and Law School Nights for undergraduates.
  • Harvard Business School:
    • Venture Capital & Private Equity Club (HBS) providing its members with career and educational opportunities in the venture capital and private equity sectors with speaker series, and conferences.
    • Harvard Entrepreneurship Club (HBS) aims to provide a conduit by which students can access entrepreneurial resources, network with community entrepreneurs, and share ideas. The club is dedicated to furthering understanding about new and small businesses.
    • Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Club (HBS) educates the HBS community about Entrepreneurship through Acquisition, and provide potential searchers with the network and resources needed to succeed.

  • Harvard Innovation Labs: Harvard’s university-wide space for entrepreneurship. They offer a space that allows you to work on your project, mingle with other ventures and gain mentorship/advice from experts in the field. They have three man labs:
    • The i-lab, a dynamic, full-service space for current Harvard students interested in actively pursuing innovation and entrepreneurship.
    • Launch Lab X GEO, a groundbreaking virtual accelerator for eligible Harvard alumni leading promising early-stage startup ventures based anywhere across the globe.
    • The Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab for Harvard students, faculty, and alumni working on high-potential life sciences and biotech startups.
    • The i-lab also runs the President’s Innovation Challenge, an invitation to Harvard students and select alumni to propel their ideas forward — with the chance to win a share of $515,000 in non-dilutive funding, gifted from the Bertarelli Foundation.
    • They also administer the social impact fellowship fund which was created to help recipients accelerate and advance their venture creation in social impact sectors, the Navab Fund will award $200,000 per year in grants to Harvard student-led ventures over five years, beginning in 2019.
  • Makerspaces are a resource for ventures of all kinds, especially those in need of prototyping and manufacturing tools. The i-lab hosts their own makerspace as well as the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Note that both spaces require training before being allowed access.
  • Tech & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard is hosted at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and is the department that hosts ENG-SCI 94, 95R, and 139/239.
  • Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at HBS is the center for entrepreneurship at HBS that houses faculty, classes, resources and programs which help students navigate the multitude of programs and resources available to students and alumni in the HBS and Harvard Ecosystem and in locations around the globe.
    • The Rock Center also houses the Rock Summer Fellows program, which provides a chance for students during the summer between their RC (first-year) and EC (second-year) year to focus on their new venture, working for a startup or learning about venture capital.
    • The Rock Center also has opportunities for undergraduate students with the Undergraduate Technology Innovation Fellows Program which enables a group of 10-15 outstanding Harvard College sophomores and juniors (from any College concentration) to build knowledge, skills, and a community, putting them on a path to launch and lead innovative endeavors. The application will be available in early spring 2024 with programming and events for the incoming cohort will begin in September 2024 and span junior/senior fall and spring.Being a fellow gives students access to a number of HBS resources including a startup bootcamp, 2 HBS Electives and the HBS CORe online course material.
  • Harvard Office of Technology Development promotes the public good by advancing science, fostering innovation, and translating new inventions made at Harvard University into useful products that are available and beneficial to society.

  • HackHarvard hosts an annual collegiate hackathon (i.e. coding competition) that brings together students from around the world to collaborate and create innovative projects related to hardware, software, computer coding, and more.
  • MakeHarvard host an annual collegiate makeathon (i.e. engineering competition). 
  • Pear VC hosts a number of fantastic opportunities for students across universities (current at Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard and MIT):
    • Pear Garage provides 20 students $10k in investment alongside workshops, dinners, credits, talks, and a community of world-class peers.
    • Pear Fellows which provides apprenticeship for students in early-stage venture capital. Pear Fellows work directly with Pear’s Partners to learn how we find, pick, and help the best founders.
    • Pear Competition (spring) where startups can apply and receive actionable feedback alongside the opportunity to win up to $100K and work closely with the Pear team.

  • The Allston Venture Fund is an investment collaborative focused on providing both pre-seed funding and equity-free grants to ventures led by Harvard students.
  • Contrary Capital – University-focused venture fund investing up to $2M in emerging  startups launching from the university scene around the US.
  • Dorm Room Fund – a fund built by students and backed by VC, they help student founders get all the help they need to take their companies to the next level.
  • Rough Draft VC (RDV) – General Cataysts’s pre-seed investing branch
  • Launchpad – A Network of active angel investors building individual portfolios with an emphasis on science and tech startups.
  • Hub Angels – Provides investments to young tech and life science companies.
  • Boston Harbor Angels – Business leaders investing within high-growth, early-stage companies.

Note for international students

  • To begin, as a reminder you should be incredibly careful about not losing your F-1 or J-1 student status by being employed outside of the university without prior approval. If you are ever concerned that you might do something to endanger your visa status please reach out to the Harvard International Office.
  • That said, just because you might not be able to fully launch or incorporate your business does not mean it is not worth exploring. You can learn so much by being involved in any of the above without endangering your visa status. We encourage you to test out your ideas, map all your plans out, and meet regularly with advisors as you go along this exciting journey of entrepreneurship.
By Matthew Andrews
Matthew Andrews MCS PAF