Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship has announced nine winners of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Funding, a new pilot program offering $50,000 in total awards to student entrepreneurs working on projects during the School’s winter term.
Proposed by first-year M.B.A. students Dan Rumennik, Jess Bloomgarden, and Andrew Rosenthal, and funded by the Rock Center, the MVP Fund is based on the premise of the lean startup methodology, which focuses on rapid prototyping, a process that brings products to market as quickly as possible. This methodology has been advanced and popularized by Eric Ries, an entrepreneur-in-residence at HBS this academic year advising students and collaborating with faculty members on research and course development.
Eighty-eight teams, each with at least one current Harvard M.B.A. student, submitted entries. Written proposals were due at the end of January, and finalists presented their ideas to the MVP selection committee in mid-February. Funded teams are required to meet with a mentor on a monthly basis, attend a monthly gathering of other MVP teams, and present lessons learned from the MVP program and process at the end of the semester.
The nine winning entries (with their founders) are:
- Adiply (Omar Restom, HBS 2012): An automated self-serve tool that executes online advertising direct deals.
- AfterSteps (Jessica Bloomgarden, Alex Stratoudakis, and Emma Taylor, all HBS 2012): An online end-of-life planning platform with educational resources and tools to create a plan, store it, and transfer it to designated beneficiaries.
- Children’s Stories for American Muslims (Mohammed Aaser, HBS 2012): A children’s entertainment and education brand for the underserved North American Muslim population. The business will start as a subscription service delivering monthly stories and will later expand into toys, books, games, videos, and licensing.
- MatchLend (Jeffrey Engler, HBS 2011, and Charles Deutsch): A tool to improve loan underwriting accuracy by incorporating data often missed by traditional methods.
- MyDayz (Vasile Tofan, HBS 2012, Ecaterina Demcencov, and Alex Rishoj): A web application that allows women to keep track of their health data, focusing on period and fertility monitoring.
- Rewardly (Aleem Mawani, HBS 2011, and Jasen Kim): A rewards program that works with the customers’ existing credit cards wherever they make purchases.
- UpStart (Sarah Dillard, Jevan Soo, and Shiyan Koh, all HBS 2011): A program that seeks to do for entrepreneurship what Teach for America did for teaching by creating a well-branded path for young talent to work at promising start-ups and learn entrepreneurial skills.
- Vinamea (Gurvan Rallon and Cornelius Frey, both HBS 2012): A platform that allows people to rent a portion of a vineyard, follow an online wine production process from grape to bottle, and ultimately receive their share of the year’s vintage in a customized package.
- Zumper (Anthemos Georgiades, Tom Dye, and Ken Sim, all HBS 2012): An online real estate market in which students and others can bid on and secure properties in a more efficient and transparent manner.
Read the full release.