Jeffrey Bussgang

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Jeffrey J. Bussgang is a Senior Lecturer in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at the Harvard Business School and a General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm.  He studies lean startups as well as strategy and management challenges for founders.  He teaches Launching Technology Ventures in the MBA Elective Curriculum and has previously assisted in teaching Founders' Dilemmas.

Jeffrey J. Bussgang is a Senior Lecturer in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at the Harvard Business School and a General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm.  He studies lean startups as well as strategy and management challenges for founders.  He teaches Launching Technology Ventures in the MBA Elective Curriculum and has previously assisted in teaching Founders' Dilemmas. Jeff's investment interests and entrepreneurial experience are in consumer, Internet commerce, marketing services, and software and mobile start-ups.

Jeff currently represents Flybridge Capital Partners on the boards of BlueTarp FinancialCartera Commerce, DataXu, i4cp, Open EnglishPlastiq, Restorando, Sample6SavingStar, Sitracx, and Valore and is a board observer at ZestFinance.  Jeff was previously a director at Brontes Technologies (acquired by 3M), BzzAgent (acquired by Tesco), ClickSquared (acquired by Zeta Interactive), Convoke Systems, go2Media, oneforty (acquired by HubSpot), PanGo Networks (merged with InnerWireless), Ready Financial (merged with AccountNow), TARIS Biomedical (acquired by Allergan), Transpera (acquired by Tremor Video).

He is also on the board of MITX, the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange, and is a Founding Executive Committee Member of FirstGrowth Venture Network, a network of venture and angel investors supporting first- and second-time entrepreneurs building exciting companies in the New York area.

Jeff has co-authored twelve HBS cases including: BabbaCo, Bazaart, codecademy, Curt Schilling's Next Pitch, foursquare, Open English, Plastiq, Predictive BioSciences, Raising Startup Capital, The Business Development Manager, The Product Manager, and Yahoo: Bost Sides of the Stamped Deal. He is the co-author of Ruling The Net, a 1996 Harvard Business Review article on the Internet's potential for commerce.

Jeff's book on venture capital and entrepreneurship, Mastering the VC Game, is an insider's guide for entrepreneurs on financing and company-building. The book has been hailed by the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, TechCrunch and The Financial Times as an essential guide for entrepreneurs.  The first chapter of Mastering the VC Game can be downloaded here.

Jeff's popular blog on helping demystify the venture business for entrepreneurs, "Seeing Both Sides", can be found at, which is syndicated by, Inc Magazine, Fortune, Reuters, PE Hub, and others.  You can follow Jeff on Twitter at

Prior to joining the firm in January 2003, Jeff co-founded Upromise (acquired by Sallie Mae), a loyalty marketing and financial services firm with 12 million members that currently manages over $35 billion in college savings assets, where he served as President, Chief Operating Officer and Board Director. Prior to Upromise, Jeff was an executive at Open Market, an Internet commerce software leader that went public in 1996 and grew to nearly $100 million in revenues. During his five-year tenure, he served as Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and Business Development, Vice President of Worldwide Professional Services and head of Product Management. Prior to Open Market, Jeff was with the strategy consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group.

Jeff holds a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University where he graduated magna cum laude and an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar and a Ford Scholar.

Jeff is married with three children and is an avid baseball fan. He is an active community member, serving as vice-chair of the The Alliance for Business Leadership, co-chairman of the board of educational non-profit, Facing History and Ourselves, and has served on various civic boards, including Governor Deval Patrick's Council for Innovation (to use technology to make government more efficient), Economic Development Council (creating an economic development plan for the State) and the Readiness Finance Commission (education reform).


  1. Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How to Get from Start-up to IPO on Your Terms

    Jeffrey J. Bussgang

    An essential, insider's guide to the secrets of the world of venture capital, written by one of the few people who have played on both sides of this high-stakes game. In it, you will find detailed insights, colorful stories, and practical advice gathered from entrepreneur-turned-VC Jeffrey Bussgang's own experience, as well as from interviews with dozens of the most successful players on both sides of the game, including Twitter's Jack Dorsey and LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Venture Capital; Initial Public Offering; Personal Development and Career;

Journal Articles

  1. Ruling the Net

    D. L. Spar and Jeffrey J. Bussgang

    The Internet promises a radical new world of business. But for many companies, it has yet to deliver. Although doing business in cyberspace may be novel and exhilarating, it can also be frustrating, confusing, and even unprofitable. Debora Spar and Jeffrey Bussgang argue that the problems companies face have little to do with a lack of technology or imagination. Their problems stem instead from a lack of rules. The authors explain why the informal rules that have developed on the Internet since the 1960s are no longer sufficient. Businesses thinking of allowing millions of dollars of transactions to occur on the wide-open Net need specific assurances. They require clear definitions of property rights, a safe and useful means of exchange, and a way to locate and punish violators of on-line rules.

    Keywords: Information Services; Online Technology;


    Spar, D. L., and Jeffrey J. Bussgang. "Ruling the Net." Harvard Business Review 74, no. 3 (May–June 1996): 125–133. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Codecademy: Monetizing a Movement?

    Jeffrey J. Bussgang and Lisa C. Mazzanti

    Codecademy, an open-platform, online community for learning computer programming, launched in 2011. By 2014, the company had raised a total of $12.5 million in funding and was, on many fronts, an overwhelming success. However, there were still no revenues. The founders decided it was time to experiment with different monetization strategies before deciding on a way forward. Although they wanted to avoid being prematurely pressured into decisions that went against their open-platform philosophy, they also knew that in order to fulfill their mission to democratize education, they had to eventually build a revenue-generating business. But what business model should they pursue and what monetization experiments should they run?

    Keywords: entrepreneurial management; startup management; technology; computer programming; coding; online education; monetization; online communities; marketplaces; Education Industry; Technology Industry; New York (city, NY); United States;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey J., and Lisa C. Mazzanti. "Codecademy: Monetizing a Movement?" Harvard Business School Case 815-093, December 2014. View Details
  2. Growth Hacking at Bazaart (B)

    Jeffrey Bussgang and Matthew G. Preble

    "Growth Hacking at Bazaart (B)" provides a brief update of what has transpired at Bazaart since the timing of "Growth Hacking at Bazaart (A)".

    Keywords: Growth hacking; customer acquisition; startup marketing; startup nation; Business Startups; Social Marketing; Marketing; Growth and Development; Customers; Fashion Industry; Technology Industry; Israel;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey, and Matthew G. Preble. "Growth Hacking at Bazaart (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 815-077, December 2014. View Details
  3. Growth Hacking at Bazaart (A)

    Jeffrey Bussgang and Matthew G. Preble

    The four founding members of Bazaart—a young Israeli company whose sole product was its eponymous mobile application (app) which allowed users to create collages from photographs and other images—face an important strategic decision in June 2014. Since its founding roughly two years earlier, the company had raised very little money from outside investors. Gili Golander, one of the founders and Bazaart's chief marketing officer, utilized a number of "growth hacking" techniques to generate downloads and build awareness at minimal cost. These techniques had proven successful and helped the firm reach 1 million downloads by June 2014.

    However the four founders debated whether to stay focused on growing Bazaart's user base and worry about driving revenue later, or try and monetize the app (by introducing in-app purchases, native advertising, or moving to a subscription model) and bring in some much needed revenue. Would growth hacking alone be enough to grow the company or should it utilize (and pay for) more traditional marketing? What approach would make the company more attractive to investors?

    Keywords: Growth hacking; customer acquisition; startup marketing; Startup; startup nation; Business Startups; Growth and Development Strategy; Customers; Marketing; Social Marketing; Fashion Industry; Technology Industry; Israel;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey, and Matthew G. Preble. "Growth Hacking at Bazaart (A)." Harvard Business School Case 815-001, December 2014. View Details
  4. Raising Startup Capital

    Jeffrey Bussgang

    Entrepreneurs typically focus their full energies on business-building. But raising capital is a core part of building a valuable business. Developing expertise in raising capital is more than a necessary evil, it is a competitive weapon. Master it and you will be in a better position to make your company a massive success. But how do you finance a new venture? In this note, I will try to help answer this question by addressing the following topics:
    • Types of funding. The two major types of startup capital are equity funding and debt funding although there are a few hybrid flavors as well.
    • Sources of funding. These include venture capital firms, angel investors, crowd-funding, and accelerators/incubators.
    • What investors look for. Each source has a different funding process and set of criteria which you need to understand before seeking funding from that source.
    • The mechanics of equity funding. Seeking and securing funding involves setting amounts, agreeing to terms, and defining relationships.

    Keywords: fund raising; venture capital; venture capital term sheet; venture creation/development; venture investing; venture philanthropy; entrepreneurial finance; entrepreneurial management; entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship; Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act; Non-equity financing; Convertible notes; convertible debt; debt financing; Raising Capital; National Venture Capital Association; venture capital firm compensation; crowdfunding; crowd-funding; Startup; start-up; startup management; Startups; angel investors; angels; accelerator; Venture Capital; Financing and Loans; Entrepreneurship; Business Startups; Financial Services Industry; United States;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey. "Raising Startup Capital." Harvard Business School Background Note 814-089, February 2014. View Details
  5. Open English

    Jeffrey J. Bussgang and Lisa Mazzanti

    Open English, a Miami-based startup offering online English language learning services, had more than 30,000 active students across Latin America in 2012. The company had just closed a $43 million financing round in order to rapidly scale its service to the next level. Nicolette Moreno, Co-founder and Vice President of Product Development, felt that a substantial portion of the new funding was needed to rework Open English's platform to enable the additional growth. She was concerned that the company's learning platform (LP)—the core set of software systems used to deliver online lessons—was beginning to show its age. Although one path would be to shore up the LP's capacity incrementally to allow the company to sustain its momentum with minimal disruption, Nicolette felt it was just a matter of time before they had to tackle a complete rewrite of the platform. Although daunting to undertake, a rewrite would allow the company to grow beyond the current LP's capabilities and position them for future success. Nicolette needed to give the board a full sense of what she saw—was now really the right time for a complete rewrite of the LP? What were the risks? And how should she approach the effort?

    Keywords: technology strategy; product management; Startup; entrepreneurship; online learning; Technology Platform; Entrepreneurship; Business Startups; Technology Industry; Miami; Venezuela;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey J., and Lisa Mazzanti. "Open English." Harvard Business School Case 814-020, January 2014. (Revised March 2015.) View Details
  6. Yahoo: Both Sides of the Stamped Deal

    Jeffrey J. Bussgang and Lisa C. Mazzanti

    In 2012, Marissa Mayer became the CEO of Yahoo!, a tech giant with a tumultuous past. When Mayer tries to reinvigorate the company, she hires Jacqueline Reses, who has a private equity background, to head both human resources and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). As part of Mayer's turnaround strategy, Reses looks to build a mobile technology product development team by executing an "acquisition-hire" (i.e., "acqui-hire") to acquire New York City-based start-up Stamped, a mobile application company launched by former Google employees, Robby Stein and Bart Stein. Without an M&A team that is fully staffed and before new acquisition processes have been formalized, Reses must decide whether acquiring Stamped is a wise strategy. The case also considers the perspective of Robby and Bart and explores if selling Stamped to Yahoo! and transitioning the Stamped team into Yahoo!'s mobile product development team is the right exit strategy for their start-up.

    Keywords: mobile app; acquisition-hire; human resources; entrepreneurship; exit strategy; start-up; Mobile Technology; Mergers and Acquisitions; Human Resources; Entrepreneurship; Business Startups; Product Development; Technology Industry; Sunnyvale; New York (city, NY);


    Bussgang, Jeffrey J., and Lisa C. Mazzanti. "Yahoo: Both Sides of the Stamped Deal." Harvard Business School Case 814-051, January 2014. (Revised January 2015.) View Details
  7. Plastiq

    Jeffrey J. Bussgang, Gaurav Jain, Liroy Haddad, Luke Langford and Matt Noble

    The young CEO of a venture-backed startup needs to figure out his go to market strategy and the right profile for his first key sales hires. Should he develop partnerships with channels that would provide leverage or build out a direct sales force? And should the sales team be led by an experienced senior sales executive or a scrappy, mid-level sales manager?

    Keywords: payments; Sales; channels; Credit Cards; Credit Cards; Market Platforms; Selection and Staffing; Cost vs Benefits; Salesforce Management; Marketing Channels; Business Startups; Business Strategy;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey J., Gaurav Jain, Liroy Haddad, Luke Langford, and Matt Noble. "Plastiq." Harvard Business School Case 813-125, December 2012. (Revised December 2014.) View Details
  8. BabbaCo

    Jeffrey J. Bussgang and Gaurav Jain

    Having just raised a Series B financing, the case protagonist is faced with a tough decision: should she "step on the gas" and scale the customer base, or continue focusing on fine-tuning the product and business model. The case describes the various marketing channels employed by the BabbaCo team (Search, Email, Social Media, Deal Sites, Affiliates, etc.), including the strategy and effectiveness for each. Readers can use this knowledge to evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing efforts to date and determine whether they think the company is ready to scale those efforts or whether it is premature to do so.

    Keywords: subscription; marketing; scaling; product-market fit; online marketing; Customers; Decisions; Expansion; Marketing Channels; Business Startups; Growth and Development Strategy;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey J., and Gaurav Jain. "BabbaCo." Harvard Business School Case 813-107, December 2012. (Revised December 2014.) View Details
  9. The Business Development Manager

    Jeffrey J. Bussgang, Thomas R. Eisenmann, Sarah Dillard, Katharine Nevins and Puja Ramani

    Describes the role of business development (BD) managers in technology companies, detailing: 1) BD managers' key responsibilities at each step in the process of creating a partnership agreement; 2) how the nature of the BD function evolves as a technology startup matures; and 3) the attributes of effective BD managers.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; partnerships; High technology products; Technology; Business or Company Management; Partners and Partnerships; Management Skills; Business Startups; Growth and Development Strategy; Technology Industry;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey J., Thomas R. Eisenmann, Sarah Dillard, Katharine Nevins, and Puja Ramani. "The Business Development Manager." Harvard Business School Background Note 812-107, December 2011. (Revised March 2013.) (request a courtesy copy.) View Details
  10. The Product Manager

    Jeffrey Bussgang, Thomas Eisenmann and Robert Go

    Describes the role of product manager (PM) in technology companies, detailing 1) PMs' responsibilities; 2) different ways to organize the product management function; 3) how PMs interact with other functions within technology companies (e.g., engineering, product marketing); 4) how the nature of the PM role varies depending on context (e.g., early- vs. late-stage startups, business- vs. engineering-driven cultures); and 5) the attributes of effective PMs.

    Keywords: Product Marketing; Product Development; Product Design;


    Bussgang, Jeffrey, Thomas Eisenmann, and Robert Go. "The Product Manager." Harvard Business School Background Note 812-105, December 2011. (Revised January 2015.) (request a courtesy copy.) View Details
  11. foursquare

    Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Thomas R. Eisenmann, Jeffrey J. Bussgang and David Chen

    Co-founders of foursquare are deciding how to respond to competitive threats and scale up the organization. Foursquare was a location-based online service that allowed users to "check in" to a location using an application on a smartphone. Foursquare kept track of a user's check-ins, shared them with users' friends, and unlocked "Specials" that gave users discounts at nearby locations. Within a year and a half of its founding the company had 45 employees and over 5 million users and was valued in excess of $100 million. However, many competitors, including Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, developed competitive services requiring foursquare to respond.      

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Online Technology; Mobile Technology; Competitive Advantage; Web Services Industry; United States;


    Piskorski, Mikolaj Jan, Thomas R. Eisenmann, Jeffrey J. Bussgang, and David Chen. "foursquare." Harvard Business School Case 711-418, January 2010. (Revised March 2013.) View Details
  12. Curt Schilling's Next Pitch

    Noam T. Wasserman, Jeffrey J. Bussgang and Rachel Gordon

    As his major-league pitching career was starting to wind down in 2006, baseball all-star Curt Schilling decided to become an entrepreneur. Looking to focus his tenacity and his passion for online role-playing games on a new challenge, he founded an online gaming venture, which later became known as 38 Studios. During the venture's first two years, he built a team of 70 people, including an executive team of business and industry veterans and learned key lessons about the challenges faced by industry-changing entrepreneurs. Wanting to self-fund the venture initially, and later finding it hard to raise outside money, he put a substantial percentage of his net worth on the line to build 38 Studios. Now he is facing a critical acquisition decision that could either double his problems or help solve them.

    Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Business Startups; Decision Choices and Conditions; Entrepreneurship; Financing and Loans; Leadership; Personal Development and Career; Groups and Teams; Video Game Industry;


    Wasserman, Noam T., Jeffrey J. Bussgang, and Rachel Gordon. "Curt Schilling's Next Pitch." Harvard Business School Case 810-053, December 2009. (Revised June 2011.) View Details
  13. Predictive Biosciences

    Thomas R. Eisenmann, Jeffrey J. Bussgang and David Kiron

    A small cancer diagnostics start-up is deciding whether to acquire a laboratory to make and sell its bladder cancer test or build its own manufacturing and sales team.

    Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Factories, Labs, and Plants; Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Health Testing and Trials; Growth and Development Strategy; Product Development; Biotechnology Industry;


    Eisenmann, Thomas R., Jeffrey J. Bussgang, and David Kiron. "Predictive Biosciences." Harvard Business School Case 811-015, January 2011. (Revised March 2011.) View Details