Launching Global Ventures - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Launching Global Ventures

Course Number 1627

Associate Professor William R. Kerr
Winter; Q3Q4; 3 credits
25 sessions


Globalization has forever changed the start-up landscape. High-impact entrepreneurship is worldwide, and many ventures launch today with a presence in multiple countries from day one. Many students leave HBS to start a global venture or work with one.

Launching Global Ventures (LGV) explores international entrepreneurship in four stages:

  1. Global business models: Very high profile start-ups (e.g., Rocket Internet, Skype) are launched with a business model focused on the global environment. We survey global models focused on arbitrage of ideas, global outsourcing, information flows, and similar.
  2. Location choice: Global ventures face difficult location decisions (e.g., to launch in Silicon Valley or home countries, where to legally incorporate). We consider frameworks to organize these decisions. We also consider the pros and cons for joining cluster initiatives that provide support to international entrepreneurs for temporary residence (e.g., Start-up Chile).
  3. Resource assembly and launch: The great promise of international locations is often offset by limited resources. We consider how global entrepreneurs adjust their business model to these constraints, structure partnerships in a multi-country context, deal with government corruption, manage teams dispersed on several continents, etc.
  4. Growth and exits: We close the course by outlining some special issues with respect to growth and exits for global ventures.

Course design and case selection adheres to the following objectives:

  • Focus on recent HBS experiences:50% of LGV cases center on an HBS graduate from the last five years and his/her experiences when starting an international company. These cases cover multiple objectives, with one central objective being to identify the biggest challenges that graduating HBS entrepreneurs face after school.
  • Focus on frameworks for global ventures: >80% of LGV cases are born-global ventures. The remaining cases consider ventures operating in a single country but facing a ubiquitous challenge (e.g., dealing with family-owned conglomerates, limited entrepreneurial finance). The class does not seek to describe differences in entrepreneurship in many countries, but instead impart practical advice and frameworks for global start-ups in any region.
  • Focus on high-impact ventures: Cases consider a range of international ventures, from high-growth, VC-backed start-ups to a social non-profit for slum housing. All ventures share the trait of seeking substantial and persistent change. Beyond this goal, case composition favors high-growth ventures (fairly similar composition to TEM).

The class includes a final project and presentation to your classmates. Class time is set aside for this project development and pitch. This project can focus on your own venture. Alternatively, projects working with a global venture owned and operated by an HBS Executive Education participant will be available for students looking for a venture.