Harvard Dropouts Pursue Startups

Every Harvard student who founds a start-up does not become the next billionaire under 30.

Instead, they are faced with a new set of obstacles, such as finding funding and developing management skills. And upon leaving, these former students must also find housing and often form an entirely new social circle.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports a 97.4 percent six-year graduation rate from Harvard, which translates to more than 40 students per entering class not receiving a diploma in that time.

According to Jeff Neal, a spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 682 students are currently on leave from the College, including students who left as long ago as the 1970s.

Those who start a business in the middle of their time at Harvard are certainly taking the road less traveled.


“In the beginning, there were a lot questions and uncertainties,” said John V. Capodilupo, a former member of the class of 2014.

In his sophomore spring, Capodilupo began wondering whether a computer science concentration was right for him.

But when an offer came to work on Bobo Analytics, Inc., a company that designs a wristband that continuously collects heart-rate data and aims to replace the classic chest strap heart monitor, Capodilupo took the summer position.

For Capodilupo, an offer from a start-up seemed like the best way to find his calling.

Anand S. Gupta, however, had already found a project he cared about several months before taking his leave and tried to balance a full course load for the semester prior to leaving.

“At the end of my sophomore year, the amount of homework I was getting done proportional to the amount of project work I was getting done, that ratio was very much skewed in one way [towards the project],” said Gupta, a former member of the class of 2014.

“If you’re going to be at Harvard... don’t screw around.” Gupta said.

Splitting his time between Cambridge and Boston, Gupta is currently developing software to aid pathologists searching through digitized images of cancer-affected tissue.

Similarly, Merrill H. Lutsky and Erik C. Schluntz, both former members of the class of 2015, found themselves without enough hours to work on a project they co-founded.