Many students come to HBS with an interest in social enterprise; many others hope to become entrepreneurs. But Lindsay Hyde arrives on campus with significant accomplishments in both domains. As the founder of Strong Women, Strong Girls, a nonprofit mentoring program that connects college women with inner city schoolgirls, Lindsay experienced the drama of launching a new enterprise, the daily challenge of running it for twelve years, and, recently, the bittersweet but necessary obligation of successfully transferring authority to a new executive director she herself helped find.
In addition, she comes with a unique perspective. As the spouse of a previous HBS student, Blair Baldwin, MBA 2009, she can appreciate new developments at the school. “What interests me is how much has changed in just three years,” Lindsay says. “As an entrepreneur coming to HBS, I’m excited to see how much support, infrastructure and entrepreneurial spirit there is on campus for startup ambitions.” She points to Rock Center and the i-lab as examples of HBS commitment, as well as faculty encouragement. “I have had several experiences with faculty who have been hugely supportive of my explorations and thinking regarding what I’d like to do next as an entrepreneur.”
The power of the FIELD program
But above all else, Lindsay points to the three-part FIELD program as the strongest measure of both what is fresh at HBS and what is helpful to entrepreneurs. “In FIELD 1, we took on various team roles in a simulated climb of Mt. Everest,” she says. “It was a great way to start the year, to begin thinking about how we want to develop as leaders.”
In FIELD 2, Lindsay and her team helped an Indian retailer, Nalli Silk Sarees, develop a new service for the home goods market. After testing a wedding registry idea that bombed, the team found inspiration in their one-on-one research and came up with a mobile retail idea – Nalli on a bus – to overcome consumer objections to traffic as a barrier to shopping. FIELD 3, the entrepreneurship module, “is an opportunity to take the lessons we learned in FIELD 2 about research and testing assumptions, and put them into practice launching a micro-business,” Lindsay says. She and her team are building My Friend Bert, an online “date itinerary” service that creates unique date options for busy couples, such as a hot chocolate walking tour of Boston. “The chance to test strategies on the ground,” Lindsay says, “gives you so much more insight than working with theory alone.”
Exploring options for social enterprise
“The whole reason I came to business school,” says Lindsay, “is to learn how to better integrate making social change with day-to-day business operations. Through the case study method, I’ve been able to see how so many different businesses, in different industries, are choosing to integrate social impact into their work.”
For herself, Lindsay is still considering her options, weighing starting another enterprise versus “bringing my skills to an existing business.” She’s found mentors, support and tough love within the Women Founders’ Forum, an on-campus group led by Senior Lecturer and serial entrepreneur Janet Kraus that helps women test entrepreneurial ideas and refine their business models. “Coming to HBS,” Lindsay says, “I’m so pleased with the level of thought and enthusiasm my classmates of all professional backgrounds have given to making a positive impact through business.”