I’m Gaurav Bhogale, from the HBS class of 2021. While I grew up in Mumbai, before HBS I spent 8 years at Google in San Francisco and Sydney, helping drive product engagement and growth for apps like Google Maps, Search and Gmail. 

It was the summer of 2018 in San Francisco, California, and I was thinking about the next step of my career. I’d learned a lot at Google while working on some of the biggest mobile apps and products in the world, getting exposure to thinking strategically, managing teams and having impact. However, I felt something was missing. I’d started my career in Mumbai as an entrepreneur and I knew I needed something more fulfilling and challenging like that again. 

Being in Silicon Valley, I was fortunate to find mentors who helped me do some soul searching on the path ahead. After a period of self-reflecting and advice of those around me, I decided to apply to the MBA program at HBS. I was particularly drawn to HBS after hearing about the experience of my friends who had not only found a supportive entrepreneurial community at HBS, but co-founders as well. I spoke with alumni who were part of the Venture Capital and Private Equity (VCPE) club, and others who were Rock Venture Partners. A colleague at Google had even explored a startup idea at the i-Lab. The more I investigated the resources at HBS, the more I knew an MBA there was the perfect fit for me. 

I also saw my time at HBS as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. I’d lived in four cities over the last ten years. While I enjoyed every moment, I missed my friends. I wanted to meet a diverse group of people at school and build the deep relationships I’d left behind. I had also never formally worked in a Venture Capital role. I knew it was important to understand the startup ecosystem both from an entrepreneurial and investing perspective. I’d heard it was a difficult industry to break into, and I’d hoped to find a supportive network at HBS who could help me prepare for it.

“The best way to get a job in VC, is to already have a job in VC” someone said to me at the start of my HBS journey. However, my fellow classmates in the VCPE club were very gracious in helping me hone my early-stage investment thesis, practice investment memos, and connect me with their friends in the top VC funds in the US. After many coffee chats and conversations, I knew I was well prepared for my VC summer internship interviews. 

I was fortunate to be connected with the VC firm FJ Labs, and their Entrepreneurship-in-Residence program. FJ is one of the best investors in marketplace themed startups globally. During the upcoming summer I will be doing a mix of early stage investing and working alongside one of the companies they are incubating. Over the next year, FJ will help me hone my entrepreneurial ideas and help turn them into a real company. 

At HBS, the classes and cases are only one part of the student experience. Right from the beginning I’ve been active in the student community. I’ve been elected senator for my section (Section J woo!) and co-president of the VCPE club focusing on Venture Capital. I’m passionate about giving back to the community, especially to those students who also want to break into VC. 

Given the current COVID crisis, there is uncertainty where we’ll all be after graduating. But my experience so far has shown me that the HBS community will help us all land on our feet. Being here has given me more than just a network, I’ve found a family.