BOSTON—Harvard Business School and its Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship announced the opening of the HBS Startup Studio in New York City as well as the appointment of Avani Patel as the new facility’s director.
Although HBS has long had a network of offices around the globe dedicated to supporting faculty research, this is the first off-campus facility for graduates of the School who are practicing entrepreneurs. It complements the broad variety of programs offered to Harvard MBA students by the HBS Rock Center and Harvard University’s Innovation Lab.
The Startup Studio, which is temporarily located in midtown Manhattan (1460 Broadway) before moving to a permanent and larger location in Silicon Alley next spring, will be both a gathering place for the many HBS entrepreneurial alumni in the Greater New York City area and a workspace for New York-based teams with at least one founder who is a Harvard Business School graduate. The Studio’s mission is to help foster connections and collaborations among alumni, whether they are founders, investors, or among those who have joined one of the many high-growth startups for which New York City has become well known.
“HBS alumni in New York have been at the forefront of the surge in startups there with companies such as Birchbox, Blue Apron, Rent the Runway, Oscar, and Hello Alfred, to name a few,” said Jodi Gernon (MBA 1991), director of the Rock Center, located on the School’s campus in Boston. “For years, many of them have returned to HBS to interact, seek advice, and network with others facing similar challenges. Now they can do that by staying in New York and making use of our Startup Studio.”
Teams gain access to the Studio by application. They must have seed funding in excess of $500,000 and fewer than seven employees. Teams will reside at the Studio for up to eighteen months, depending on their growth stage, and will be able to take advantage of all events and programming at the Studio, such as founder forums, subject matter and industry expert councils, and general networking events.
The initial teams in the Startup Studio represent a cross-section of industries, from consumer products and health care to digital and financial technology. They currently include:
Archway Health, bundled payments platform for healthcare providers;
Booya Fitness, an online fitness video platform;
BringmeThat, an online food delivery platform;
Bundle Organics, beverages that provide proper nutrition for expectant and new mothers;
Greenshield, a new financial wellness and benefits utilization platform aimed at putting more money back in employees’ pockets and reducing employer’ healthcare costs and payroll taxes;
Legal Hero makes law simple for businesses by providing experienced, vetted lawyers at fixed prices;
Show Score is like a Rotten Tomatoes for New York City theater — all the shows, all the reviews, and all the prices — all in one place;
Summus, building a platform for expertise in specialty medicine; and
Tootelage, which provides educational content for at-home learning.
As the new director of the Studio, Avani Patel joins Harvard Business School with many years of experience in the startup world as a founder, advisor, mentor, and investor. Most recently she founded TrendSeeder, New York’s first fashion-focused accelerator, which also has an educational component once described by Women’s Wear Daily as a “mini-MBA program taught by industry experts.” TrendSeeder boasts over a hundred mentors recruited by Patel from the executive levels of the world’s most highly regarded fashion companies. In her work with TrendSeeder and other organizations, Avani has advised more than 500 entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad.
A graduate of Loyola University in Chicago, Patel holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a JD from the Northwestern University School of Law. While in law school, she founded a men’s and women’s contemporary clothing label before working as a corporate attorney in Chicago and New York, specializing in mergers and acquisitions. “Harvard Business School has proved itself to be the leader in the entrepreneurial space,” Patel said. “I am delighted to be able to share my knowledge and experience with HBS alumni who are eager to make a difference in the world by creating and developing new products and services.”
The Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship was created through the generosity of prominent venture capitalist Arthur Rock (MBA 1951), who donated $25 million to Harvard Business School to support the entrepreneurship faculty and their research, fellowships for MBA and doctoral students, symposia and conferences, and outreach efforts to extend the impact of the School’s extensive work in this field. HBS offered the country’s first business school course in entrepreneurship in 1947 and, today, entrepreneurship is one of the largest faculty units at the School, with over 30 faculty members conducting entrepreneurship research and teaching. The Rock Center works closely with the HBS California Research Center in Silicon Valley on entrepreneurship-related research and course development efforts.