Entrepreneurship is a featured research topic and an initiative at Harvard Business School
Our long tradition of research in Entrepreneurship goes back to the 1930's and 1940's with the “the father of venture capitalism,” General Georges Doriot, and Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of innovation as a process of “creative destruction.” Building on our intellectual roots, our scholars come from disciplines including economics, finance, sociology, strategy, business history, management, and social entrepreneurship. A number of our faculty come from practice as venture capitalists and start-up founders. We focus our research on the identification and pursuit of entrepreneurial opportunities; domestic and international funding of entrepreneurial endeavors; innovation, particularly technological innovation in international ventures; the environments in which entrepreneurs make decisions; and social entrepreneurship. As our research contributes new insights, we are advancing the world’s understanding of complex entrepreneurial issues and helping to increase the entrepreneurial success of our students and practitioners worldwide. 
  1. MOD Pizza: A Winning Recipe?

    Boris Groysberg, John D. Vaughan and Matthew Preble

    Scott and Ally Svenson, the founders of MOD Pizza, had to make a number of decisions in planning how to scale their small company. They wanted to grow MOD from 45 stores as of May 2015 to 200 stores by the end of 2016, and while the two believed that MOD could manage this growth from an operational standpoint, they wanted to make sure that MOD's culture was sufficiently strong to survive this roll-out. The company had developed a strong culture, and the Svenson's did not want MOD's core values and philosophies to be compromised as it rapidly expanded. To that end, they considered what the company needed to do in order to protect its core culture. Should it put rigid safeguards in place, or trust that MOD could successfully scale its culture by hiring the right people and helping them develop as employees? The Svensons also discussed the possibility of an IPO at some point in the near future; what would this mean for its ability to stay true to its core values?

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; employees; employee relationship management; selection and staffing; leadership; growth and development strategy; marketing; service delivery; organizational culture; corporate social responsibility and impact; mission and purpose; Entrepreneurship; Employees; Employee Relationship Management; Selection and Staffing; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Marketing; Service Delivery; Organizational Culture; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Mission and Purpose; Service Industry; United States;


    Groysberg, Boris, John D. Vaughan, and Matthew Preble. "MOD Pizza: A Winning Recipe?" Harvard Business School Case 416-004, September 2015. View Details
  2. GovDelivery

    Mitchell Weiss

    Is government the biggest, worst customer in the world? And is that a reason for venture investors to back companies that sell to government or to stay away? It had been seven years since Scott Burns joined his friend Zach Stabenow to get a company called GovDocs off the ground. In that time, they had evolved from a provider of government-mandated labor law posters to the country's largest sender of government-to-citizen emails. GovDelivery, as the company became known, was one of the first companies to move governments into the cloud, one of the first to sell them software as a service (SaaS), and in 2007, the only one with 3 million registered citizens using its platform to receive communications from federal, state, regional, and city governments and public authorities.
    In those seven years, Burns had raised capital from many sources: friends and family, angel investors, strategic partners, banks, and the investment arm of a major family fund. He and Stabenow had also grown the business through operating revenue and by keeping a tight watch on costs. They had to. Because growth capital had come in from almost all corners, except one: major venture firms. Now, with roughly $6 million in annual revenue and projections to double that within three years, Burns was prepping for discussions with half a dozen Tier 1 firms. In doing so, he was anticipating what he thought would be the "elephant in the room." GovDelivery's business-to-government revenue model had been a conversation-stopper with major investors looking at Burns' company and companies like it. What would he tell potential backers?

    Keywords: GovDelivery; public entrepreneurship; B2G; Business-to-Government; Scott Burns; venture capital; Entrepreneurship; Government Administration; Venture Capital; Information Technology Industry; Public Administration Industry; Web Services Industry; Minnesota; United States;


    Weiss, Mitchell. "GovDelivery." Harvard Business School Case 816-020, September 2015. View Details
  3. Social Networks, Ethnicity, and Entrepreneurship

    William R. Kerr and Martin Mandorff

    We study the relationship between ethnicity, occupational choice, and entrepreneurship. Immigrant groups in the United States cluster in specific business sectors. For example, Koreans are 34 times more likely than other immigrants to operate dry cleaners, and Gujarati-speaking Indians are 108 times more likely to manage motels. We develop a model of social interactions where non-work relationships facilitate the acquisition of sector-specific skills. The resulting scale economies generate occupational stratification along ethnic lines, consistent with the reoccurring phenomenon of small, socially-isolated groups achieving considerable economic success via concentrated entrepreneurship. Empirical evidence from the United States supports our model's underlying mechanisms.

    Keywords: occupations; social entrepreneurship; social networks; clusters; ethnicity; Entrepreneurship; Social Entrepreneurship; Industry Clusters; Ethnicity; United States;


    Kerr, William R., and Martin Mandorff. "Social Networks, Ethnicity, and Entrepreneurship." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-042, October 2015. (NBER Working Paper Series, No. 21597, September 2015.) View Details
  4. Yabbly and the Anthology MVP (A)

    Shikhar Ghosh and Christopher Payton

    In July 2014, after 18 months and eight unsuccessful product launches, the CEO of Yabbly has agreed to sell his company to a larger, well-funded startup, providing a return of capital for his investors and a home for his team. Two weeks prior to the scheduled closing, the team launches a final experiment based on the results of a customer interview. After creating a quick landing page and announcing the product launch through social media channels, the company finds significant customer interest. With only two weeks of promising data, the CEO must decide whether or not to abandon the planned sale to pursue the new product, and if so, what terms he should offer new and existing investors to finance the next phase of product development.

    Keywords: Mergers & Acquisitions; Business Startups; business model; entrepreneurship; Business Model; Business Plan; Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Innovation Strategy; Mobile Technology; Online Technology; Mergers and Acquisitions; Business Exit or Shutdown; Fairness; Valuation; Technology Industry; Consumer Products Industry; North America; United States; Seattle;


    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Christopher Payton. "Yabbly and the Anthology MVP (A)." Harvard Business School Case 816-032, August 2015. View Details
  5. Whistle Sports: An Online Sports Network for Millennials

    Robert F. Higgins and Christine Snively

    By January 2015, Whistle Sports, a multi-platform sports network for millennials, had attracted over 54 million online subscribers on Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Vine. It established partnerships with several professional sports leagues and amassed 225 partner channels on YouTube. Its revenue was largely generated through advertisements featured on YouTube. Whistle Sports recently announced that it raised $32 million in Series B financing, enough to bring the company into 2016. John West (MBA 1995), founder and CEO, wondered how the company should allocate its resources over the next year in order to become profitable and ensure future growth.

    Keywords: Sports; technology; internet; websites; entrepreneurship; technology networks; Business Startups; Sports; Entrepreneurship; Technology Networks; Business Startups;


    Higgins, Robert F., and Christine Snively. "Whistle Sports: An Online Sports Network for Millennials." Harvard Business School Case 816-006, August 2015. View Details
  6. Dinr: My First Start-up (A)

    Shikhar Ghosh and Kristina Maslauskaite

    In May 2012, a young employee at Google's London office, Markus Berger, was thinking whether he should quit his job and go after his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Berger's idea was to create Dinr, a company that would offer an upscale food ingredient delivery service in London. A customer would choose a recipe on Dinr's website and would receive all premeasured ingredients the same evening at their doorstep. Contrary to many existing similar companies, Dinr would not require a weekly subscription, but would operate one-off orders like other traditional food delivery services. Berger had already carried out an Alpha-test of the service and completed an in-depth survey of potential customers to explore the market. Most of the feedback was positive, which confirmed Berger's intuition about this market opportunity. Berger had found a more experienced co-founder with technical expertise, who was willing to join Dinr part-time and gathered £40,000 of initial capital. Yet, making the decision to leave his corporate job and become an entrepreneur was not easy: was Dinr a good business opportunity? Would it be attractive to outside investors? What were the risks involved?

    Keywords: exit strategy; Startup; entrepreneurship; food; start-up; Business Exit or Shutdown; Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Food;


    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Kristina Maslauskaite. "Dinr: My First Start-up (A)." Harvard Business School Case 816-023, August 2015. View Details
  7. The Grommet

    Lynda Applegate, Karen Gordon Mills, Lena Goldberg and Annelena Lobb

    The Grommet, an online product launch platform, was at the brink of scaling its business. The Grommet's daily launch and sale of innovative consumer products, using personal videos created by product makers, had led to its initial success. In 2014, the company launched The Grommet Wholesale, a similar platform targeting retailers. Was this the best way to capture more of the value the company created for makers?

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; product launch; retail; Online Technology; Entrepreneurship; Product Launch; Retail Industry;


    Applegate, Lynda, Karen Gordon Mills, Lena Goldberg, and Annelena Lobb. "The Grommet." Harvard Business School Case 816-038, August 2015. View Details
  8. George Washington and the Foundations of American Democracy

    Tom Nicholas and Matthew G. Preble

    George Washington is perhaps the most well-known of the U.S.'s founding fathers because of his political and military achievements. However, Washington also operated a number of successful business ventures out of his Mount Vernon estate, and he became a landowner on the American frontier. Washington's life and career serve as a lens for understanding the development of the early American economy. Washington was entrepreneurial both economically and politically. He played a central role in helping to structure the new country's national government and developed a number of precedents as the country's first executive.

    Keywords: government; history; leadership; entrepreneurship; George Washington; democracy; Decision Making; Entrepreneurship; Government and Politics; Business History; Leadership; United States;


    Nicholas, Tom, and Matthew G. Preble. "George Washington and the Foundations of American Democracy." Harvard Business School Case 816-019, August 2015. View Details
  9. Yabbly (A)

    Shikhar Ghosh and Christopher Payton

    In November 2013, with less than 10 months of cash on hand, Tom Leung, the founder and CEO of Yabbly, must decide where to focus his resources. His startup, a question and answer application for shopping decisions, had benefited from a strong showing at the SXSW Accelerator competition and had a dedicated and engaged user base. However, Leung knew that the current growth trajectory would not lead them to the milestones needed to receive an additional round of financing. Leung must decide whether to continue pursuing user acquisition experiments, explore other product ideas, or begin searching for a potential acquirer to achieve a "soft landing" for his team and his investors.

    Keywords: Business Plan; Startup; mobile; online product reviews; consumer products; Business Model; Business Plan; Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Innovation Strategy; Mobile Technology; Online Technology; North America; United States; Washington (state, US); Seattle;


    Ghosh, Shikhar, and Christopher Payton. "Yabbly (A)." Harvard Business School Case 816-030, August 2015. View Details
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