The MBA Experience

Rock Accelerator Award Program

Launched in 2010, the Rock Accelerator (previously known as the MVP Award) is designed to help students who are using the lean startup methodology and developing a minimum viable product. To learn more about this set of ideas, visit Eric Ries' blog, Lessons Learned, Eric Ries' response to an Inc Magazine article on Minimum Viable Product and the article, The Minimum Viable Product Dissected.

In addition, you may be interested in The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development by Cooper & Vlaskovits. Available for the Kindle for $24. Or as a PDF download for $25.

There will be two rounds of Rock Accelerator Awards in the 2014-2015 academic year. Stay tuned for important application details, including requirements and deadlines.

Read more about this spring's winning teams:
Round 2: HBS News Release.

Application information

For each round, awards of approximately $50,000 will be made to student teams with a target of ten $5,000 awards. The deadline and application will be available online in late August. Late applications will not be accepted.

We also expect that we will have more applications than we can fund and therefore that the process will be competitive. Awards will be determined by a joint faculty, staff, and student committee. The exact process will sift the online applications down to a set of finalists, and then those finalists will make live presentations to the committee and a final selection made.

Contact the Rock Center ( with any questions.

Requirements & Application information

  • Round 1 (fall term) is open to ECs only. Round 2 (winter term) is open to RCs and ECs. All teams must include at least 1 current HBS MBA student as a member of the founding team.
  • If you have previously participated in the Rock Accelerator program as an RC, you may not apply again.
  • Students may participate on only one (1) team/project and teams may submit one (1) proposal/application per round.
  • Students winning a Rock Accelerator award are not eligible for the NVC experimentation reimbursement award.
  • The Rock Accelerator program is extremely competitive and in order to serve as many student entrepreneurs as possible, if you apply and are accepted into both the Rock Accelerator and i-lab Venture Incubation, the Rock Center kindly requires that student teams only participate in one program.
  • RCs: note that you may not work on the same business idea/start-up for both the Rock Accelerator and your FIELD III course. Winning a Rock Accelerator award precludes you from working on this same venture for FIELD III.
  • All teams will need to fill out a poll to determine eligibility. The poll can be accessed here.
  • No team may have raised/spent more than $10,000 in capital to advance the business to its current state. This amount does not include in kind benefits or grants received by principle investigators for academic research purposes (e.g. NIH, NSF).
  • The Rock Accelerator program provides mentors for each student team. Winners must be willing to participate in the mentoring program.
  • Applications are due: TBD. Online applications for the winter term will be available shortly.
  • Finalists will be asked to present to the Rock Accelerator selection committee in person on TBD about 5:00-8:00 pm. This committee will consist of HBS faculty, staff, current students and possibly alumni.
  • All funded teams must agree to:
    • check-in bi-weekly with a mentor from the Rock Accelerator program;
    • attend all scheduled peer exchange workshops;
    • possibly participate in a "poster board" session or otherwise share Rock Accelerator experiences with the broader community.