Field Course: Field X - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Field Course: Field X

Course Number 6333

Professor Randolph Cohen
Fall, Q1Q2; 3 credits
Weekly, 2 hour sessions
Enrollment: Limited to 80 students

Educational Objectives

The course is designed to enable students to develop and grow their businesses. Doing so while on campus has several advantages, including access to resources (faculty time and attention, library and computer access); advice from your peers in a structured environment; and devoted blocks of time during your EC year to move your business forward while your team is all in one location. The course will employ a combination of field methods, classroom exercises, cross-team interactions, and access to faculty, guest experts, and other advisors. The largest single allocation of time will be to working with your team to make meaningful progress on your own business.

"Joiner" students who are interested in taking the class by joining a business with one or more existing members are strongly encouraged to do so. We will create opportunities for businesses with one or more members to meet and combine with joiners.

Students can expect to:

  1. Summarize and critique their existing business, its strengths and weaknesses, either as a going concern or as an idea, and set priorities for moving the business forward, including the most pressing priorities to be addressed during the course itself.
  2. Develop a strategy for taking the business to the next level, including a plan for funding, and a plan and timeline for reaching scale.
  3. Give and receive feedback from other highly motivated student teams.
  4. Meet frequently as a team with the faculty advisor
  5. Receive feedback and counsel from outside business advisors.
  6. Have opportunities to pitch your work to angel, seed, and venture capital investors

This course can be thought of as occupying a space between an IP and a traditional course, giving you an opportunity to work on something of great interest to you, while preserving many of the benefits of a larger course, including opportunities for guest speakers, feedback from your peers, and clearly delineated deliverables and milestones that act as commitment devices to push the business forward.

In the past the School has provided each Field X team with a modest grant of around $2,000 to help launch their business. While we cannot guarantee the grant program will continue in 2019, we hope and expect that it will.

A substantial number of Field X businesses have been funded by mentors and investors they met through the course. About two dozen teams from last year are running their businesses full-time now, most or all of whom have received funding of $500,000 or more; in some cases far more.

In terms of requirements, "in between an IP and a course" means that there will be weekly or almost-weekly class meetings, but there will not, in general, be substantial weekly homework or required preparation for class, other than that you work to push your business forward.

Who Should Enroll?

Students who are sufficiently excited about a business they are running, or a business they want to start immediately, that they want to focus on it in a serious way. Some, because they treasure the lessons they are learning from building a business. Some, because they think their business has a legitimate opportunity to grow rapidly and create a successful career path for them. And some because they believe their business can do a substantial amount of good for the world and so they want to continue working on it during their EC year and perhaps after graduation.

Course Deliverables

The main deliverable will be the team’s final presentation and the supporting slide deck and report. There will also be intermediate deliverables building up to that point. In short, expect to produce a Word document and a Powerpoint deck with descriptions of your business at the beginning of the course and a (perhaps similar, perhaps very different) version at the end of the course.

On the final day of class, students who wish to will have the opportunity to present their businesses to an audience of angel, seed and venture investors at our Pitch Day event. Last year around 70 investors attended and around 50 teams presented.

Cross Registration

Cross-registrants are welcome to take the course.