14 Mar 2021

Get to Know Liza, a Social Enterprise Track New Venture Competition Team

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With the New Venture Competition (NVC) finale right around the corner (be sure to RSVP and tune in March 30 at 6:00 pm), learn more about team Liza, a company aiming to help Americans improve their credit score. We asked Jessica Hart (MBA 2021) about her entrepreneurial journey and NVC preparations.

Team members: Jessica Hart (MBA 2021), Bukie Adebo (MBA 2021), Tyler Hastie (MBA/MPP 2021)

What inspired you to start your company?

Tyler, Bukie, and I met right at the beginning of the first year at HBS. We quickly found that we shared a frustration about the huge inequalities in the US and landed on personal finances as a powerful lever in countering inequality. A low credit score can make daily life more expensive and difficult to build long-term wealth through homeownership, college tuition, or family inheritance.

Personally, I was inspired to build Liza by a couple of things. Firstly, our early customer interviews confirmed our belief that there was a real need to help people build their credit scores as part of a journey to a more sustainable financial future. Individuals’ stories helped bring the problem to life and I saw an opportunity to build something that might help a large number of people. The second reason was simply the team. Tyler, Bukie, and I have very complementary skill sets and I love working with them. It would have been hard to invest as much of ourselves as we have without a stellar team.

How has the Rock Center or Social Enterprise Initiative helped with your entrepreneurial journey? Are there any other HBS resources that you have been using?

The Rock Center has been with us throughout our journey, starting with the Rock Summer Fellow program during the summer of 2020 through to the Rock Accelerator this fall. The resources that are available through Rock have been brilliant; the sessions, practice pitches, and mentorship opportunities. But what really made the difference to the Liza team was the sense of community with fellow founders—especially in our remote world, it has made such a difference to have a cohort to share the journey and to ask questions about anything!

How have you been preparing for the competition?

Events like these are always a great opportunity to stop and take stock of all the progress that has been made. Aside from practicing our pitch, we are very focused on making progress with our pilot; the more progress we can demonstrate, the more compelling our venture!

What part of the NVC journey has been the most helpful for your team?

We have received some super helpful feedback as we prepared for the NVC:

  • Create a connection early on when explaining the problem you are addressing.
  • Keep pitch slides very simple and use the presenter’s narrative to bring the detail.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

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