08 Oct 2020

Harvard Business School Announces Rock Accelerator Teams for 2020-21


BOSTON—Harvard Business School's Rock Center for Entrepreneurship has announced 40 teams for the 2020-2021 Rock Accelerator.

Launched in 2010, the HBS Rock Center Accelerator is a highly immersive program uniquely designed for Harvard Business School student founders of early-stage startups. The focus is on building and validating a “minimum viable product (MVP)” that the teams can bring to market quickly, with a strong emphasis on developing plans for testing the MVP. The selected teams experience deep-dive coaching sessions and check-ins, feedback on their product pitches, and opportunities to pitch for seed funding. The goal is for teams to emerge from the program with a strong foundation for building or expanding a market-ready product.

Recent participants in the Rock Accelerator include Juno (formerly LeverEdge), which uses group buying power to negotiate student loan rates with lenders, technicbal workforce solutions company OnRamp, Stride Funding, which offers Income Share Agreements (ISAs) for student financing, education funding, student loans, and paying for college, and EmCasa, a real-estate startup based out of Brazil which offers virtual tours and sales assistance.

Each spring, the teams receive financial grants from a pool of $250,000. Team selection and funding decisions are made in close consultation with the Rock Venture Partners Program, which includes MBA students interested in the venture capital industry.

The Rock Accelerator is run over two terms during the academic year and is open to second-year Harvard MBA students and their teams. At least one member of each team must be a Harvard MBA candidate. This year, the Accelerator transitioned to virtual delivery.

Since 1947, the study of entrepreneurship has been a vital part of the Harvard Business School MBA program, which includes a required course in the first-year curriculum, numerous electives in the second-year curriculum, and a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes the annual New Venture Competition, the Rock Accelerator Program, Rock Summer Fellows, Rock Loan Reduction, and the Rock 100.

The Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, which has earned accolades as the top program for entrepreneurial studies in the nation, supports faculty and their research in the field of entrepreneurial management as well as spurs the HBS community with the energy and spirit needed for new ideas and innovations to thrive and grow. Through a community that provides support, access to content, and a gateway to entrepreneurial ecosystems everywhere, the Rock Center helps students and alumni create ventures that revolutionize in both the for-profit and social enterprise sectors. The Rock Center is led by Jodi Gernon, director, and the Rock Accelerator by Chuck Collins, associate director. The Rock Accelerator coaches for this year are Julia Austin, Marty Blue, Tom Clay, Anne Dwane, Ralph Folz, Alex Iskold, Adrien Nussenbaum, Javier Segovia, Shereen Shermak, Satish Tadikonda, and Wendy Tsu.

The following are 39 of the 40 teams (one prefers to remain unnamed) in the 2020 Spring Rock Accelerator are:

Whitney Wilson (MBA 2021), Founder

Adira is a direct-to-consumer women’s professional footwear brand that has made the ‘go-to’ women’s work shoe. You are unstoppable, your heels should be, too.

Anise Health
Ning Ma (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CEO
Alice Zhang (MBA 2021), Co-founder and COO
Nisha Desai (MBA 2021), Co-founder and Chief Product Officer

Anise is an on-demand, culturally-competent digital mental health service that delivers end-to-end behavioral coaching, psychotherapy, and psychiatry tailored toward different cultural backgrounds.

Asan Therapeutics Ananya Zutshi (MS/MBA 2021), Co-founder

Asan Therapeutics is developing a drug delivery platform dedicated to making the delivery of biologics easier by leveraging novel technologies.

Aspen Apothecary
Keta Burke-Williams (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CEO
Kaja Burke-Williams, Northwestern ‘18, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer

Founded by two BIPOC sisters, Aspen Apothecary is changing the face of fragrance. We make self-care less of a hassle with our clean, conscious, vegan CBD-infused perfumes for modern womxn.

Bruno Novarini (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CEO
Fran Melo, Co-founder and CTO
Victor Santos, Co-founder and Chairman

Bizbox allows service professionals to run their business on the go. Impressive customer interactions, intuitive job management, and easy digital payments level up their professionalism and unlock efficient growth. Today it's pen and paper, cash and checks. Tomorrow it's Bizbox.

Convallo Bio

Kaylee Carpenter (MBA 2021), Co-founder

Convallo Bio is developing the next generation of beneficial bacteria using our novel bacteria armor to improve the health of humans, animals, and the planet.

Peter Gumulia (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CEO
Sean Widjaja, Co-founder and COO

Edukita is an online English LIVE classes platform for K-12 population in Indonesia. Our mission is to be the place between school and home where young Indonesians can build meaningful skills to thrive in the modern world.

EXTA (Excelling through Adversity)
Camille McGirt (MBA 2020), Co-founder
Emanuel McGirt, Jr. NC State 2019, Co-founder

EXTA is a telehealth platform that provides 24/7, flexible, and convenient mental health support for athletes facing hardship.

Cory Dunton (MBA 2021), Founder

Falsetto’s goal is to assist consumers of any digital medium or platform seamlessly determine if content can be trusted and educate how they can become better digital stewards.

Kaiz Alarakyia (MBA 2021), Co-founder

First90 is an education and training platform for businesses that provides coaching and real-world simulations to onboard new employees. Our goal is to ensure each employee is prepared to thrive in their new role with the skills, mindsets, and relationships they need to succeed.

Chuck Nadd (MBA/MPP 2021), Co-founder and CEO
Pavel Vydra, Co-founder and CPO
Bohuslav Šimek, Co-founder and Lead Engineer

FlashCash is a payment platform that allows merchants to accept digital payments without hardware.

Jerren Chang (MBA/MPP 2021), Founder, Strategy and Finance Lead
Nimisha Ganesh (MBA 2021), Marketing Lead
Casey McGinley (MS/MBA 2021), operations lead
Florian Schalliol (MBA 2021), Program Development Lead

GenUnity is a civic leadership organization that supports adults’ civic learning and engagement in their local communities on the issues they are most passionate about. GenUnity delivers its unique, immersive programs in partnership with community members, organizations, and leaders experiencing the issues and locally today.

Laura Hoffmann (MBA 2021), Founder

Shop like on Amazon, but with a clear conscience. GreenZone is a sustainable marketplace with a broad but selected offer of sustainable products, backed by a green logistics service.

Matthew Antoszyk (MBA 2021), Founder and CEO

HearldAPI is enabling API connectivity in the commercial insurance space. We are creating the new infrastructure needed to power the age of digital insurance for businesses.

Human Dynamics
Michael Mancinelli (MS/MBA 2021), CEO
Kazushige Yoshimaru (MBA 2021), COO
Tomohisa Okamoto (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2021), CSO
Takahiro Nozaki (Keio University), CTO

Human Dynamics transforms the way work-at-heights is done. With our patent-pending robotics system, maintenance and construction are cheaper, safer, and cleaner.

IXORA Apparel
Farah Azmi (MBA 2021), Founder and CEO
Nora Iknadossian, Design Director

IXORA provides trend-driven made-to-measure apparel for today’s young working woman. Our apparel is made-for-her body, made-for-her lifestyle, made-for-her confidence, and not made-to-stock.

Jetpack AI
Bryce DeFigueiredo (MBA 2021), Founder and CEO

Jetpack is AI-powered productivity for under-organized people. You should not have to spend more time thinking about what to do than getting things done. Jetpack uses natural language processing to help you effortlessly stay on top of your life.

Miguel Bernal (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CFO
Sergio B., Co-founder

Justiexpress universalizes access to basic legal services at affordable prices in Latin America.

Ida Hatchue (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CEO
Cydni Williams (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CMO
Gael Hatchue, Co-founder and CTO

KARL is a platform that delivers personalized, recurring dates to couples based on their interests, budget, and availability. This allows couples to spend less time planning, and more time enjoying date night.

Michi Ferreol (MBA 2021), Founder
Cam Carag (MBA 2022), Founder

KadaKareer is a one-stop career exploration platform for low-income students in the Philippines that leverages bite-sized, low bandwidth engagements to help land that first job.

Kenai Market
Kelton Gallant (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CEO
Max Skudarnov (MBA 2021), Co-founder and COO

Kenai is a marketplace that connects environmentally conscious consumers to small businesses that deliver plastic-free products shipped plastic-free. Kenai offers end-to-end transparency and filterability on environmentally relevant metrics (e.g., proximity, chemical-free, etc.).

Jessica Hart (MBA 2021), Co-founder (external relationships and team)
Tyler Hastie (MBA/MPP 2021), Co-founder (product)
Bukie Adebo (MBA 2021), Co-founder (customer growth and partnerships)

Liza helps Americans build their credit score, making it easier to access to affordable credit. Liza formalizes loans between family and friends to make them contribute towards the credit-builder’s score.

Megan Murday (MBA 2021), CEO
Anthony Yim (MS/MBA 2021), CTO

Metric helps private market investors measure and improve their portfolio’s environmental and social performance. Our software enables teams to identify and measure material ESG factors, quantify financial impact, and receive tailored improvement strategies.

Cathy Chukwulebe (MBA 2021), Founder & CEO

MMaven is a job marketplace and skills management platform for manufacturing skilled tradesmen. We provide students at manufacturing trade schools with access to more job opportunities, while providing companies quicker access to technical talent matched to roles based on skills.

Mae Abdelrahman (MBA 2021), Founder and CEO

Nour is a skin care company built on the belief that all shades of skin deserve to be valued and protected equally. We are entering the market with a line of tinted mineral-based sunscreens that will blend flawlessly with dark skin tones. Our sunscreens come in three dark shades that won’t leave an unpleasant white cast on the skin.

Mariapaola Testa, (MBA 2021), Co-founder
Elisa Piscitelli (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2019), Co-founder
Susanna Testa, PhD, Creative Director

Orientami is a digital career coaching program for high school students in Italy. Orientami’s mission is to empower new generations to craft their future, developing skills, sparking new interests, promoting excellence and innovation. Our first step to achieve this mission is to help high-school students make better university choices.

Ryan Yu (MBA 2021), Co-founder
John Lewis (MBA 2021), Co-founder
Matt Baumgartner (MBA 2021), Co-founder

Oston builds machine learning models on industrial distributor sales data to generate actionable insights for manufacturers and distributors in the B2B space.

Michael Klain (JD/MBA 2022), Co-founder
Daniel Barcia (JD/MBA 2022), Co-founder

Pericles provides funding for resource-constrained small businesses and law firms pursuing litigation.

RESET Third Space
Shani Carter (MBA 2021), Founder and CEO

RESET’s platform makes it easy to find, test, and build healthy habits with trusted online mental health and wellness brands.

Shelly Xu Design
Shelly Xu, (MBA 2021), Founder, product and design

Shelly Xu Design is the first fashion-tech startup to make beautiful, accessible, 100% zero waste designs. We enhance design appeal while saving ~55% of the cost, so that eliminating the carbon footprint in what we wear becomes a no brainer rather than a compromise.

Dan Li (MBA 2021), Co-founder
Sam Chuang (UCLA 2014), Co-founder

Shypyard helps businesses quickly migrate to ecommerce, and only pay for the infrastructure they use when it's being used.

Salvos Therapeutics
Natalie Ferguson (MBA 2021), Co-founder \
Ivana Yifang Shui (Harvard Medical School 2019), Co-founder

Salvos is a T-cell therapy company developing cancer therapeutic products by improving T-cell functions utilizing our novel immune cell engineering platform. We are committed to enhancing T-cells to unlock the power of a patient’s immune system to fight against cancer.

Bobby Lane (MBA 2021), Co-founder
Stephen Moch (MBA/MPP 2021), Co-founder

Skye enables the first true net-zero emissions and labor responsible structures through a cloud-based climate technology platform. Our product is a new software ecosystem to measure, reduce, and offset the environmental and social impacts of construction.

Austin Osborne (MBA 2021), Co-founder and CEO
Nikita Jagadeesh (MBA 2021), Co-founder and COO

SpotlightAI is a B2B software providing enterprises with the ability to automatically detect sensitive information, anonymize it quickly, and share it with parties that need it.

Jeffery Wang (MBA 2021), Co-founder
Charles He, Co-founder

Vixemble is a computer-vision-powered video analytics SaaS tool for manual discrete manufacturing processes.

Sylvester Wee (MBA 2021), Co-founder
Sadib Abdullah (MBA 2021), Co-founder
Rachel Lee (MBA/MPP 2022), Co-founder

Wee30 is creating an online-to-offline fitness and lifestyle experience that leverages both localized communities and gamification for accountability.


Mark Cautela

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.