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Why Harvard Closed Its Startup Studio

To be a successful entrepreneur, you should always learn new things and develop. However, there is also another side: you should know when to stop trying. For this reason, Harvard Business School is closing its Startup Studio, which was opened in January 2016.

At the end of this year’s September, the studio will cease its existence. According to Jodi Gernon of Harvard Business School, the studio was never a long-term project, more like a pilot.

Gernon decided to close the studio after a survey of the school’s local entrepreneurs and students attending the program, P&Q reports. It turned out that although there are many entrepreneurs at Harvard Business School, not many of them showed a particular need for programming.

Of course, everyone liked the mentorship program and the workshops at the studio, but the attendance was meager. Gernon and colleagues think that this might be due to the fact that New York City gives a lot of opportunities for aspiring programmers, especially if they want to launch their own startup. Also, the studio’s space was more needed elsewhere. Program founders were happy with the space cost when the studio was helped and subsidized by donors, but now, without outside support, the cost would be too high.

Physical Space Not Needed For Programming Workshops

According to Jodi Gernon, when the studio was opened, it was designed for three goals: first, to find out if getting the Harvard Business School founders together would be a valuable effort; second, to learn if NYC’s programming startup ecosystem would be benefited by the new studio; and third, to see if such a studio would need a real physical space. Apparently, in more than two years it turned out that the physical place was not needed for the studio.

The programming at the studio was based on two programs: Rock 100 and RISE. The learning was conducted on a peer-to-peer basis, giving attendees new workshops, case studies and other types of events. Additionally, it helped budding entrepreneurs to broaden their network. Personal mentoring was a touch especially liked by both founders and attendees, however, case studies and other events did not have so much going for them. Hence, the space in NYC was not so necessary for the studio.

Still, the main reason for terminating the project was that founders who wanted to use the space had to have already raised no less than $500,000 in funding, but with no more than seven employees. The questions from founders who joined late were far from what the workshops and events were about. To answer them, there was no need for a studio in a physical space.

Programs to Be Continued

Jodi Gernon assures that the Rock 100 and RISE programs will be continued – not in NYC, but in Boston, on Harvard Business School’s campus. Moreover, there will be new courses based on HBX Live, the platform for online distance learning offered by Harvard University.

Even with the studio existing for less than three years, it has still paved a way to give support to HBS alumni through the New Venture Competition, which is held at Harvard annually in April. Such competitions are now held in 14 countries, and at the final stage one (or two) startups make it to the final stage, which is held in Boston.

The resources offered by the studio will be useful for young entrepreneurs, even if they are not from Harvard – most of the information is free. The studio’s goal was achieved, as Gernon and colleagues established that Harvard Business School can be extremely useful for businesses on the scaling stage.

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