Harvard Ventures is an entrepreneurship and venture capital network, acting as a learning hub through which networks can connect and grow. It’s the largest of its kind at Harvard, bringing together undergraduates and alumni, and providing barrier-free participation.
Startups and venture capital are all about creating new value—going from zero to one—and networks are core to that. Harvard Ventures doesn’t provide investment, but it facilitates connection. Nothing drives the hustler spirit quite like being among other innovators.
The Bottom Line Podcast
In the spring of 2020, large parts of the world rapidly shut down and isolated in response to Covid-19, and Harvard was no exception. To a startup community that thrives on interaction, this is a tough situation. But it also provided the opportunity to demonstrate exactly what innovation means, and whether or not you’re able to adapt quickly when it’s not smooth sailing.
Harvard Ventures was not caught flat-footed though, swiftly gearing up The Bottom Line, its entrepreneurship podcast. If anyone was uncertain whether or not they had the chops to pull it off, they needn’t have worried, as the pod’s first guest was Mark Cuban. A statement of intent? Perhaps, and it was effective, as the podcast went on to do those most important of things for a new venture: it provided value and solutions, in uncertain times.
The Fall Comp
Moving forward in 2021, Harvard Ventures offers hands-on guidance as to how the startup ecosystem operates, and how to thrive within it. There are certain concepts you need familiarity with, and the Harvard Ventures Comp allows you to get to grips with them in a supportive environment. If you already understand things like startup metrics, funding rounds, and pitch decks, then it’s good to check in and confirm what you know. Or if it’s all new to you, that’s great: there’s nothing better than a clean slate and a beginner’s mind.
In addition to the comp, Harvard Ventures hosts regular presentations, at which attendees can get authentic insights into how successful companies are seeded and grow. Real life stories and tips, delivered in person, can be invaluable, unforgettable, and inspiring. Recent attendees have included speakers from proven names such as Tinder, SimpleBet, and Forethought AI.
Test Your Ideas
Although Harvard Ventures is not an investment organization, it can facilitate no-equity grants to undergraduate founders. This is done through the i3 Innovation Challenge, which is run in collaboration with Harvard’s Technology and Entrepreneurship Center. The focus of the i3 is on rewarding the best startup, but even if you don’t grab first prize, there is great value in testing yourself and your ideas in a competitive environment, and receiving feedback from expert judges.
Globally, we’re all experiencing turbulence, but also tremendous innovation, as technology levels up at a mind-blowing pace. Where there’s disruption, there are opportunities, but what’s also become clear is the necessity of community and connection. A strong network, such as that accessible through Harvard Ventures, is far greater than the sum of its parts.