Finding an Idea

There is not a tried and true track to coming up with a breakthrough idea. Some students arrive on campus with an idea that they’ve nurtured through a prior work experience, others develop an idea based on exposure to a case, course project or field study. If you are actively looking for an idea, there are several avenues that will at least bring you into contact with ideas – or, importantly – other people with ideas.

  • In conjunction with the HBS Business Plan Contest, the Rock Center organizes several team building sessions. See the Business Plan Contest calendar for a full listing of events.
  • The fall term second-year elective, Commercializing Science (syllabus), pairs MBAs with students and faculty from other parts of Harvard University (e.g. engineering, biology) to work on projects where scientific inventions are explored for their commercial potential. Often, after participating in this course in the fall, students use their initial work as the basis for a field study/Business Plan Contest submission in the spring.
  • Certainly, if you have a general idea of your area of interest (e.g. social networking, health care services, etc.) a summer internship in the field, followed by a field study, is a good way to engage in more in-depth exploration and, hopefully, come upon an un-served market need.
  • The fall semester Field Study Seminar: Evaluating the Entrepreneurial Opportunity, is a good way to flesh out and perform an opportunity assessment on an idea. If you don’t have an idea yourself, try to find and work with a student who does.
  • Enrolling in the MIT course, e-lab, is also an option.
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Cases & Teaching Notes

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Customers and markets

Web Resources

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  • Market Analysis This site provides access to articles and tools relating to market analysis. Search "market analysis" for specific information.
  • Demographics and Consumer Behavior Research Guide A guide by the Baker Library Services of Harvard Business School, listing selected resources that focus on business and consumer demographics as well as consumer lifestyles.

Industry analysis

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  • Industry Research Research Guide A guide by the Baker Library Services of Harvard Business School, listing selected resources that focus on industry overviews, trends, major players, and analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis Articles, how-to's and worksheets regarding  competitive analysis. Search "competitive analysis" for specific information.
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Competitors/Potential Competitors

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  • Company Research Research Guide A guide by the Baker Library Services of Harvard Business School, listing selected resources that focus on companies within an industry. Company information covers list of competitors and peers as well as their financials, analysis and latest developments.

Strategies (Business, Marketing Pricing, etc.)

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Databases

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  • ABI/ProQuest Database HU PIN For more articles on the topic from academic journals and major industry journals.