04 Mar 2022

Get to Know Past NVC Winners: Getaway House


With the New Venture Competition (NVC) Finale right around the corner and in celebration of the competition’s 25 years at Harvard Business School, we caught up with some of the past participants across the three tracks (Alumni, Student Business, and Social Enterprise) to learn more about how NVC and their time at HBS helped shape their entrepreneurial journey.

Tickets are now available for the NVC 2022 Finale on March 31, 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

Student Business Track

Jon Staff, Founder and CEO, Getaway House

NVC team:
Jon Staff (MBA 2016)

What inspired you to start your company or organization?
I had been living in an Airstream trailer traveling the West and knew I'd have to return to real life one day, but wanted to hang onto some ability to escape to nature frequently to get away from work, the noise of the city, and constant connectedness.

How has HBS helped with your entrepreneurial journey?
The Rock Center and HBS gave me my first dollar—$1,000 to be exact—to do consumer research. They paired me with mentors and Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs). Folks at HBS also introduced me to half of my seed investors. Most importantly, HBS gave me the time, space, and encouragement to explore and experiment.

What part of the NVC journey was most helpful for your team?
The New Venture Competition forced us to prepare for any and every question we could imagine being tossed at us from a broad spectrum of potential investors. That preparation was critical in preparing us to eventually pitch all sorts of investors beyond HBS, even Shark Tank.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
The best shortcut to creating a great company is to only build things you truly want.

What is a failure that you experienced as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it?
I started a failed frozen yogurt shop in college—I learned that you should avoid personally guaranteeing debt to every extent you can!

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