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NYC Studio 'Unlocks HBS Network' for Alumni Entrepreneurs

By Julia E. DeBenedictis, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Business School has long had a strong network of alumni in New York City, and now the school is capitalizing on that support by launching a startup incubator in Manhattan to provide collaborative workspaces and connect entrepreneurs with HBS degrees.

Launched last week by the Business School’s Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, Startup Studio will connect entrepreneurs—focusing on Business School alumni—to provide support to teams of business people selected for participation.

“Our goal is to foster connections and collaborations among Business School alumni to support founders, investors, or any alumni who have joined one of the numerous high growth startups for which New York City is becoming known,” Avani Patel, a startup founder and the new director of the facility, wrote in an email.

In order to be eligible for the Startup Studio, at least one founder of the company must be a Business School graduate. Teams of no more than seven employees with at least $500,000 in seed funding can apply for access to the Studio’s space, programming, and mentoring.

The inspiration for the Startup Studio primarily came from the success the Business School has had with its alumni programming, according to Jodi M. Gernon, director of the Rock Center.

Gernon said the center’s annual “Rock 100” summit, an event that brings alumni founders from across the globe together each year, has demonstrated how powerful the Business School can be as a catalyst for developing startups.

Founders of the studio hoped to “unlock the HBS network,” Gernon said, adding that New York City was an obvious choice for the studio given its popularity among alumni.

Although Gernon characterized the founding of Startup Studio as “more like a soft launch” and “definitely a test run,” especially because the current location is an interim space, she said she could imagine expanding the number of locations.

Anne F. Webber ’03, a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Legal Hero—one of the initial nine teams chosen for the Studio—said she heard about the new program through the “HBS grapevine.”

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to be around other teams working on interesting businesses,” Webber wrote in an email.

Legal Hero connects businesses with lawyers. Other teams chosen for the initial group include a venture that provides at-home educational content and another that creates beverage for expectant mothers.

Webber said the studio provides “an immediate feedback loop,” which is a valuable tool for growing businesses.

The incubator’s programming will include advising on specific industries, founders’ forums, and events aimed at strengthening professional relationships.

“We plan to build relationships that can be utilized by companies to accelerate growth,” Patel said.

—Staff writer Julia E. DeBenedictis can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Julia_DeBene.

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