March 4, 2015
According to the most recent ranking of entrepreneurship programs – as determined by the Princeton Review and published in Entrepreneur magazine – Harvard places first as the top college offering an entrepreneurship course of study (on the graduate level, at least, since Harvard doesn't offer an undergraduate entrepreneur track). It's not surprising when you consider that graduates of Harvard Business School have started 182 companies and have raised more than $1.2 billion collectively in overall funding. And with resources like the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, a faculty body made up majority entrepreneurs or previous entrepreneurs, and more than 30 different entrepreneurship-related classes, Harvard is clearly an authority figure when it comes to all things entrepreneur. That's why it should come to no surprise that a startup guide has been produced by the university to help those considering to pursue launching their own ventures.
The Harvard Startup Guide was produced by the Harvard's Office of Technology Development (OTD). Initially created for Harvard faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows, the guide has been used as a resource by the many unaffiliated (the overall Internet community) since it was first published in 2011. Written with the intention of encouraging those at Harvard to reach out to and work with the OTD to help develop their ideas and turn them into actual “NewCos” (a placeholder for “startups”). But, while the guide was intentioned for the Harvard body, many parts of the guide itself can very much apply to anyone who's got a desire to start a company.
“Does the technology have clear applications and a definable market? What are the goals for the company? Is it to grow the company and position it for an acquisition or a possible initial public offering (IPO)? Will capital from private investment companies be needed?” These are just some of the questions listed in the Harvard Startup Guide's section on what you should consider before jumping fully into your venture. And if you've already started a company of your own, then you know that these considerations aren't just things designated only for Harvard folk.
The Harvard Startup Guide is replete with valuable information on doing things from presenting to investors (and what questions you should ask yourself in prior to even approaching that step), to an entire section on how to think about equity splits. The guide also has two pages filled with financing terminology, and includes essentials like “convertible debt” and “pre- and post-money valuation.”
The guide is will obvious be just a tad bit more helpful if you're in the Harvard community or even in the nearby New England region, but the Harvard Startup Guide is a pretty great starting point for anyone out there with a desire to become an entrepreneur.
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