Shikhar Ghosh

Senior Lecturer, Mel Tukman Faculty Fellow

Shikhar Ghosh is the Mel Tukman Faculty Fellow, Senior Lecturer in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit. He teaches and co-leads The Entrepreneurial Manager (TEM) in the MBA program. Shikhar has been a successful entrepreneur for the last 20 years. He has been the founder and CEO or Chairman of eight technology-based entrepreneurial companies and was the past Chairman of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MTLC) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) - two leading entrepreneurial organizations. He was selected by Business Week as one of the best Entrepreneurs in the US, by Forbes as one of the ‘Masters of the Internet Universe’ and by Fortune as the CEO of one of the 10 most innovative companies in the US. Companies he founded were selected as both the ‘hottest’ and ‘coolest’ emerging companies by business publications.

Shikhar joined the Boston Consulting Group after getting his MBA from HBS in 1980. At BCG he focused on organization and innovation in large organizations. He was elected a worldwide partner of the firm in 1987. Shikhar left BCG in 1988 to become CEO of Appex, an early-stage venture backed company that built the inter-carrier infrastructure for the US mobile phone industry. Appex provided centralized services that enabled independent mobile carriers to operate as a single seamless network. Appex’s services included call forwarding across carriers, fraud prevention services, billing and customer service. Appex was bought by EDS in 1990. By the time Shikhar left in 1993, Appex’s revenues exceeded $100 million with an order backlog of over $1 billion. It was selected by Business week as the fastest growing private company in the US.

Shikhar founded Open Market in 1993. Open Market was one of the pioneering companies in the commercialization of the Internet. It built the first commercial infrastructure for enabling secure commerce on the Internet and provided the software and services that enabled companies like Time Warner and AT&T to offer their services on the Internet. Open Market was one of the first Internet companies to go public. It was selected by numerous business publications as one of the companies that helped to make the Internet what it is today.

After leaving Open Market Shikhar has been the founder, CEO or Chairman of several companies in the wireless, payment, Internet marketing, and on-line retailing industries. He has worked in all facets of the entrepreneurial process – starting companies with technical teams, providing and raising capital with venture capitalists, buying and selling companies, or taking them public and closing down unsuccessful companies. He has been a keynote speaker in numerous conferences on innovation, entrepreneurship, digital media and on the future of the Internet.

Book Chapters

  1. Venture Capital Investment in the Clean Energy Sector

    We examine the extent to which venture capital is adequately positioned for the rapid commercialization of clean energy technologies in the U.S. While there are several startups in clean energy that are well-suited to the traditional venture capital investment model, our analysis highlights a number of structural challenges related to venture capital (VC) investment in the sector that is particularly acute for startups involved in the production of clean energy. One of the key bottlenecks threatening innovation in energy production is the inability of VCs to exit their investments at the appropriate time. This hurdle did exist in industries such as biotechnology and communications networking that faced a similar problem when they first emerged but was ultimately overcome by changes in the innovation ecosystem. However, incumbents in the oil and power sector are different in two respects. First, they are producing a commodity and hence face little end-user pressure to adopt new technologies. Second, they do not tend to feel as threatened by potential competition from clean energy startups, given the market structure and regulatory environment in the energy sector. We highlight that the problem is unlikely to get solved without the active involvement of the government. Even if it does, historical experience suggests it may take several years.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Energy Generation; Renewable Energy; Venture Capital; Investment; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Government and Politics; Technological Innovation; Production; Commercialization; Competition; Energy Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Ramana Nanda. "Venture Capital Investment in the Clean Energy Sector." In America's Energy Innovation Problem [working title], edited by Richard Lester. MIT Press, forthcoming. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. MuMaté: Funding Growth

    Keywords: Startup; venture capital; Business Startups; Financing and Loans; Consumer Products Industry; United States;

    Citation:

    Ghosh, Shikhar, Joseph B. Fuller, Thomas R. Eisenmann, Alex Godden, and Andrew Sandoe. "MuMaté: Funding Growth." Harvard Business School Case 814-063, January 2014. View Details
  2. Keurig and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

    Provides background information for a negotiations exercise in which students will represent either Keurig, a startup that has developed an innovative "portion pack" coffee brewing solution, or Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), a fast-growing premium coffee roaster interested in licensing Keurig's technology. The negotiation will determine the royalty to be paid to Keurig by GMCR, which will bear capital expenditures, and whether GMCR secures exclusive distribution rights to Keurig's system.

    Keywords: Negotiation; Food and Beverage Industry;

    Citation:

    Marshall, Paul W., Thomas R. Eisenmann, Shikhar Ghosh, and Lauren Barley. "Keurig and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters." Harvard Business School Case 812-101, December 2011. View Details
  3. Keurig: Confidential Information for Negotiation with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

    Case provides confidential information for students assuming the role of senior executives of Keurig, a startup that has developed an innovative "portion pack" coffee brewing solution, in a negotiation to license technology to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR). The negotiation will determine the royalty to be paid to Keurig by GMCR, which will bear capital expenditures, and determine whether GMCR secures exclusive distribution rights to Keurig's system.

    Keywords: Negotiation; Food and Beverage Industry;

    Citation:

    Eisenmann, Thomas R., Shikhar Ghosh, and James K. Sebenius. "Keurig: Confidential Information for Negotiation with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters." Harvard Business School Case 812-102, December 2011. View Details
  4. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters: Confidential Information for Negotiation with Keurig

    Case provides confidential information for students assuming the role of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) senior executives in a negotiation to license technology from Keurig, a startup that has developed an innovative "portion pack" coffee brewing solution. The negotiation will determine the royalty to be paid to Keurig by GMCR, which will bear capital expenditures, and determine whether GMCR secures exclusive distribution rights to Keurig's system.

    Keywords: Negotiation; Food and Beverage Industry;

    Citation:

    Eisenmann, Thomas R., Shikhar Ghosh, and James K. Sebenius. "Green Mountain Coffee Roasters: Confidential Information for Negotiation with Keurig." Harvard Business School Case 812-103, December 2011. View Details
  5. The Sandbox: Creating a Bottom-Up Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

    Discussion of new model of Social Enterprise that applies the venture capital model to social enterprise.

    Keywords: Social Entrepreneurship; Non-Governmental Organizations; Venture Capital; Business Model;

    Citation:

    Ghosh, Shikhar, Lynda M. Applegate, Rhea Ghosh, and Amar Kumar. "The Sandbox: Creating a Bottom-Up Entrepreneurial Ecosystem." Harvard Business School Case 811-053, April 2011. View Details
  6. Indica

    Citation:

    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Stephanie van Sice. "Indica." Harvard Business School Case 810-130, April 2010. (Revised March 2011.) View Details
  7. Skyhook Wireless

    Ted Morgan, the founder of Skyhook Wireless just received a call from Steve Jobs of Apple asking for a meeting. Ted must decide how to prepare for a meeting that could finally give Skyhook an anchor customer. Ted and his team have worked for three years to build a new approach to location based services that uses WiFi rather than the well-established satellite based GPS technology. Skyhook's approach is more accurate than GPS in urban areas and, unlike GPS, it works indoors. Yet, large device manufacturers are reluctant to be the first ones to use it. Skyhook has no customers. The board and investors are getting restless. Should Ted offer Steve Jobs a free license, or pay him for Apple's user base – or should he insist on a substantial license fee? The case examines the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in creating a technology-based company and in getting market traction against an established standard.

    Keywords: Wireless Technology; Information Technology; Business Ventures; Business Startups; Technology Industry;

    Citation:

    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Thomas R. Eisenmann. "Skyhook Wireless." Harvard Business School Case 809-119, April 2009. View Details