The HBS Summer Fellows Program enables students to apply their classroom training as they explore career opportunities in roles or regions where compensation is generally lower than the traditional MBA level. This summer, we are connecting with some of our 61 Social Enterprise Summer Fellows, who are working around the world to develop skills and knowledge while having significant responsibility and high impact.
What are you working on this summer?
I am working on EarthQuake, a startup I am creating while at HBS. We help individuals grow their wealth and align it to the climate urgency. Today, people usually place their savings in large funds (ETFs, mutual funds) managed by large financial institutions. With the rise of sustainable investing, these institutions have started to market “Socially Responsible” or “ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance)” products. Unfortunately, these funds may often be greenwashed, misrepresenting their impact to attract more clients. Moreover, these institutions usually fail to support shareholder resolutions that advocate for an accelerated transition to a low carbon economy, greater DEI in the workplace, or closing the gender pay gap. We created EarthQuake to change this by bringing more transparency and building a better portfolio for individuals concerned by the climate urgency and the rise of social inequalities.
Why did you choose this internship for the summer?
I joined HBS with the intention to work on EarthQuake while doing my MBA. Before to HBS, I worked at an ESG data provider, Sustainalytics. Many of my friends were seeking my advice to understand the impact of their savings. I was thrilled to help them, yet I could not find compelling financial solutions on the market. During the spring semester of my first year, I tested the idea of an impact-driven robo-advisor and witnessed the demand. I pitched the idea at a startup competition with a prominent Silicon Valley VC – and we won! I was so happy because we were getting traction. We had the funds to build and launch the MVP. At that point, I knew I had to work on EarthQuake for the summer.
What are your goals for this summer?
I have three Ps I want to achieve: people, product, and partnerships.
- People: I want to push our customer research. Investing decisions are often complex and emotional. I need to understand all the levers that drive individuals on their financial journey. I am fascinated by the behavioral science that feeds into investing, and I am currently pushing myself to dig deeper in this field.
- Product: our goal is to get our MVP ready by September to onboard our early customers. I am currently working with an agency to bring the product to life, and it is mesmerizing to see how easy things look when you get experts on board!
- Partnerships: Finally, I want to grow my network of mentors that can help me on the entrepreneurial journey.
How has your MBA skillset prepared you to be successful in this role?
Launching a venture is hard, and HBS does everything to make it easier – including what you are taught, how you are taught, and the resources provided to you.
I love the case method because it helps you navigate complexity. Each case is a quest for a solution where each student contributes with a building block. It enhances the depth and richness of your section, and is an accelerated learning experience that is essential when dealing with a low-level information environment such as a startup.
The quality of the professors was also key in launching EarthQuake. Some of my professors have become mentors, such as Reza Satchu (The Entrepreneurial Manager) and Ted Berk (Finance 2). They have always been available and eager to provide honest and sometimes tough feedback. Having had industry experience, they could quickly bring their professional expertise.
Finally, HBS provides a lot of support through programs like the Social Enterprise Initiative and the Harvard iLabs. You get immersed with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs and get resources and tailored mentorship to accelerate your venture.
How has the summer influenced your thinking on future involvement in social enterprise?
I keep thinking about discrepancies between desired outcomes and actual behaviors, especially in finance. My generation is highly concerned about climate change and social justice, yet sustainable investing is in its infancy. We need to dig deeper to find greater levers for action.
How can someone learn more about your organization?
We created a tool to help you assess the impact of your savings! https://earth-quake.us/assess-your-savings/