The WSA


Agora is an online community platform to have conversations that matter with people who matter. The mission is to use technology to offer a seamless way for people to engage their communities. As an idea sharing platform, Agora empowers communities and teams to crowdsource ideas bottom-up. Using analytics and AI, it helps decision makers separate signals from noise, creating a place for people to have conversations that matter, with people who matter. We got into a conversation with Elsa Sze, the founder and CEO of Agora.   1) How did you develop the idea for Agora? I’ve had a passion […]

Agora: Conversations That Matter


  Entrypoint, a New York based virtual reality company, provides a solution to the distribution bottleneck facing virtual reality videos. Currently, there are only two ways to distribute VR videos, apps or passive web players. Apps are expensive to produce, cumbersome to download and use, and only work on specific hardware. Current web players, meanwhile, do not allow for the interactivity which is part of what makes VR such an exciting new medium. Entrypoint’s platform allows creative agencies, publishers, and brands to add interactive elements to their 360 videos, animations, and live-streams and then publish them via a URL, accessible […]

Entrypoint: Bringing Virtual dreams to a Reality


    This week, Series W talks to Jean Luo, founder of Outdoor Pass.   Tell us about Outdoor Pass! Our mission at Outdoor Pass is to inspire and enable people to lead more active lives. Our service helps people discover and do local outdoor and “out-of-doors” activities with friends and community on a recurring basis.Outdoor activities include 5Ks and fun runs, hiking and yoga excursions, and local ski lift tickets, while “out-of-doors” activities are more discovery-focused and include anything from local concerts and film festivals to sake brewing to seasonal activities like corn mazes. For $30/month, members receive a […]

Series W talks to Jean Luo, founder of Outdoor Pass



Series W talks to Ambika Singh, Ali Driesman, Aileen Hagerman and Kevin Turner, co-founders of Armoire. Armoire is pioneering ‘wardrobe-as-a-service.’ We offer our customer an endless stream of high-end clothes to rent, which we personalize to her style and fit preferences using machine learning algorithms. With door-to-door pickup and delivery on her schedule, we conveniently provide the quality and variety of clothing that her busy life demands for less than the price of her gym membership. How did you develop the idea for Armoire? The idea for Armoire came out of our own frustrations with shopping and hunting for clothes. We were […]

Up-Close with Armoire- “Wardrobe-as-a-Service”


At UtilityAPI, we’re building the universal API for energy data. Our customers are top solar and energy storage companies. We get data out of utilities and into the hands of companies that can use it, such as solar (like SolarCity), energy storage (like Tesla), and energy management companies (Fitbit for energy use). We have paying customer and excellent growth. Access to utility data means a larger sales funnel, a frictionless customer journey, and easy data verification for financing for new energy technologies. We are making money and conveniently saving the planet at the same time (addressing climate change). 1) How […]

Series W talks to Elena Lucas from UtilityAPI


This week, Series W talks to HBS alumna Minal Mehta (HBS MBA 2011) and Shahil Patel, the co-founders of BollyX®, the world’s leading and fastest-growing Bollywood fitness company focused on building a vibrant community of certified fitness instructors and class participants to celebrate active living and combat the global obesity epidemic. BollyX is the winner of the 2015 New Venture Competition award for “Most Innovative” company. How did you develop the idea for BollyX? My co-founder and I grew up being active in team sports, and we also had extensive experience competing in Bollywood dance competitions. We realized that right before our dance […]

SERIES W TALKS TO BOLLYX



  This week, Series W talks to Eleanor Foote and Emily Schofield, the co-founders of theSaladBar, who won first place in the Founding Well pitch competition this week!  theSaladBar is a low-sugar, high-fiber, vegetable-based nutrition bar. We now have two flavors, Kale-Quinoa and Carrot Spice; both are packed with fiber and all-natural ingredients to help you eat well on the go. As we like to say, it’s the nutrition bar that is actually nutritious! How did you develop the idea for theSaladBar? How did you make the decision to take the plunge and continue working on it after FIELD 3? […]

SERIES W TALKS TO THESALADBAR


This week, we have an exciting roundup of advice for female founders to highlight some of the key points from our Series W interviews. We ask them: What resources have been most helpful to you in starting up? Victoria Song of SoSheDid:   During my second year at HBS, I continued to work on launching SoSheDid as part of an independent project advised by Professor Robin Ely, Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community, who was tremendously helpful. In fact, her daughter Francesca was so excited about our work that she became our first intern that summer. I also took Professor […]

SERIES W HELPFUL RESOURCES FOR ENTREPRENEURS ROUNDUP


  This week Series W spoke to the founders of Buff You Intimates, a modern lingerie line that provides nude tones for women of all colors. Tell us about Buff You Intimates. At Buff You Intimates, we strive to provide the best selection of nude bras and underwear to match your own beautiful shade. Our business was founded in response to a very real need amongst our circle of educated, diverse, and ambitious friends. With careers in areas from finance to fine arts, we know that our appearance matters, and we want our personalities to show through—not our underwear. To be […]

SERIES W TALKS TO BUFF YOU INTIMATES



This week Series W spoke to the founders of Binti, a for-profit tech company making adoptions easier and more affordable for adoptive parents. Tell us about Binti. Binti is a for-profit mission driven tech company with the mission of helping more children join loving families by making adoptions easier and more affordable for adoptive parents. 90% of adoptive parents drop out in the process even though there are millions of children waiting to be adopted because adoption is currently extremely expensive and difficult ($30-50K, 1-3 years, 200+ documents). How did you develop the idea for Binti? My sister adopted years ago, and […]

SERIES W TALKS TO BINTI


In honor of finals week, we have some encouraging perspectives for female founders from our recent Series W interviews. We ask them: What was your WFIO (we’re f***** it’s over) moment? Caitlin Palmer, Tamara Zagorovskaya, and Alexandra Holtzman of Virtuosa: We’d be lying if we said we didn’t have major let down at least once a month, and frankly, you have setbacks almost every week. Overall, the process of building a company is a series of amazing highs and scary lows. Just to give one example, we had our hearts set on a particular distribution channel that seemed perfect for our product. We […]

SERIES W “WFIO” ROUNDUP


  This week Series W spoke to the founders of BeachSpoke, a company started in FIELD 3 that sells fun, oversized blankets perfect for the beach, picnics, or the mountains. Tell us about BeachSpoke. BeachSpoke sells fun, oversized beach (or picnic) blankets. They include four spokes (with cute tassels!) in each corner that keep the blanket from blowing away and getting sandy. We’ve seen our customers use them everywhere, from the beach to the park to the mountains. We sell at www.getbeachspoke.com, and they make an awesome gift for friends and family this holiday season! How did you come up with the idea? […]

SERIES W TALKS TO BEACHSPOKE



By Jessica Assaf, Co-Founder of RAW IS EVERYTHING. One of the first things we are taught at Harvard Business School is that if you have a strong idea, a viable business plan, and a skilled, aligned team in an industry without many competitors and barriers to entry, there is a formula your company can follow to achieve success. This formula is a part of the business school’s DNA, taught to us in the form of cases that analyze thousands of companies in hundreds of industries over the course of the school’s 107-year history. The cases support an overarching theory and deepen […]

BREAKING ALL THE RULES AT HBS


Series W talks to Virtuosa
This week Series W spoke to the founders of Virtuosa, a company that creates products that help users hack their beauty routine and spend more time on the things that matter. Give us a brief description of Virtuosa. A “Virtuosa” is a woman who is the best at whatever she does. Virtuosa Beauty takes ordinary products and reinvents them to be the smartest version possible. Our mission is to enable you to become your own virtuosa – the best version of yourself! How did you develop the idea for Virtuosa? During FIELD 3, we were brainstorming the pain points of our […]

SERIES W TALKS TO VIRTUOSA


Last week the WSA hosted 5 recent alums, from the MBA classes of ‘13, ‘14, ‘15. An enlightening discussion ensued, here we share our takeaways: 1. It’s fine to not know what you’re doing Much angst is spent on recruiting decisions, particularly for ECs planning their first post-MBA step. Recognize that this will be one of many steps. And importantly, while it feels like everyone else has worked out what they’re doing for their internship or post-MBA job – it’s not everyone. You are in the majority if you get to Spring semester and haven’t locked in a job. You […]

THE WISDOM OF ALUMS



This week, we have an exciting roundup of advice for female founders to highlight some of the key points from our Series W interviews. We ask them: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? Diana Murakhovskaya and Irene Ryabaya of Monarq: We have three pieces of advice: share your idea, commit to it and ask for help. We love this quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.”  Building a company is a REALLY HARD and you have to be quite driven, passionate and ready to work like mad. You absolutely cannot do it […]

SERIES W ADVICE FOR ENTREPRENEURS ROUNDUP


This week Series W spoke to Hanh Nguyen, the founder of Stuff N Style, a closet catalog app that generates outfit ideas, and Monokera, a consultancy that builds MVP apps and websites for startups. Give us a brief description of Stuff N Style & Monokera. Stuff N Style is an app that helps women catalog their closets & get outfit ideas. Monokera is a startup that creates apps & websites for startups. How did you develop the idea for Stuff N Style & Monokera? I created Stuff N Style to solve my own problem of not knowing what to wear. […]

SERIES W TALKS TO STUFF N STYLE & MONOKERA


By Christine Kang, WSA Director of Content The HBS Pensieve As is tradition, in the HBS Pensieve we ask modest HBS students: what is your superpower? And while they answer, we draw out their incredible stories of perseverance, achievement, and leadership. This week we welcome Onaizah Panhwar (New Section I) to the Pensieve. It was a privilege to hear Ona’s story, and we know you will be as inspired as we are by her. Ona’s superpower is strength of steel. Her strength comes to the fore as courage in times of adversity; after becoming the head of her family at the […]

ONAIZAH PANHWAR & THE HBS PENSIEVE



This week Series W spoke to Uyen Tang, the founder of STYLECABLE, a curated online boutique that gives independent fashion designers a platform to share their story and connect with fans and customers. How did you develop the idea for STYLECABLE? My inspiration for STYLECABLE came from
 my travels as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department. Whether it was a dress that I brought back from Singapore or a hand-crafted piece of jewelry from Tajikistan, friends would always ask, “Where did you find that?” I loved sharing the story of the piece and its designer with my […]

SERIES W TALKS TO STYLECABLE


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This week Series W spoke to Victoria Song, HBS alum and founder and CEO of SoSheDid, a social enterprise focused on giving young women the tools they need to invest in themselves from the inside out. Song shared her views on starting SoSheDid, her role as a venture capitalist investing in technology companies, and how the HBS community was instrumental in crystallizing her ideas about life, career, and impact.  How did you develop the idea for SoSheDid? How did you make the decision to take the plunge and start your own organization? December 17, 2013, was one of the most memorable days […]

SERIES W TALKS TO SOSHEDID


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  By Angela Winkle, WSA Co-President Much is written about the detrimental effects of social media, from amplifying FOMO, to shifting social interactions online, to disrupting the news cycle to the point that political leaders are unable to make difficult decisions that are good in the long term. But what if our social media habits are actually changing our identities and leadership abilities too?   Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor and renowned media scholar, has recently published ‘Reclaiming Conversation’. The premise of Turkle’s book is that conversation – that most basic technology – is also the most important tool we have, […]

ON TALKING TO YOURSELF



  For the past 6 months, HBS student Tess Brooks has been building Confi (confi.co), an online community for young women seeking advice on health topics that can be uncomfortable to talk about (OB/GYN, sexual health, mental health, communication, etc.). This week, Tess reflects on her experience as a first-time founder working full-time this summer: Getting your Hands Dirty and Building the Team “Founder” is not a job description – working in the i-lab, I have seen extremely different day-to-day realities for each start-up. For example, tech companies are coding all day, food products are cooking and working with suppliers […]

A REFLECTION: FIRST 6 MONTHS OF START-UP WHILE AT HBS


This week Series W spoke to Gill Morris, founder and CEO of Hitlist, a travel app that makes your hitlist of destinations easier to check off. Morris shared her views on how she differentiated herself from every other non-technical founder with no money trying to attracted a technical co-founder, pursuing the right stage of investors, and the difficult choice of walking away from investor money when the terms changed. How did you develop the idea for Hitlist? I lived in Istanbul for a number of years and all my friends said they wanted to come visit. For the first year, none […]

SERIES W TALKS TO HITLIST


Earlier this year, HBS students and Series W members Julia Senior and Britt Danneman launched Sports Ketchup, a weekly email newsletter that provides a cheeky update on the most important sports headlines each week so that non-sports fans can win conversations about sports. Think The Skimm for sports. Sports Ketchup has been growing rapidly and recently Senior and Danneman were profiled in Just Us Gals. Sign up to Sports Ketchup here to make sure you’re up to date at the water cooler, in an elevator, on a conference call, to your tinder matches, to an uber driver…we’ve got you covered! @_sportsketchup

SPORTS KETCHUP: THEY FOLLOW SPORTS SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO



The elite of the elite. Every fall at this time of year, just across the river, hundreds of eager 19-year-olds don their finest cocktail attire in anticipation of one of the oldest and oddest of Harvard social traditions: punch season. By Thanksgiving, after a series of formal social events and tense deliberations, carefully crafted cohorts of 20-30 sophomores will each be initiated into one of Harvard’s “final clubs”: historically single-sex undergraduate societies that resemble an upscale, Harvard-centric version of traditional college Greek life. Up until the 1990s, the final club scene consisted solely of 8 men’s clubs, each with around […]

HARVARD FINALS CLUBS: WHY CHANGE A WINNING FORMULA?


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This week Series W spoke to the founding team of Monarq, a soon to be launched free iPhone app created for women by women. Diana Murakhovskaya and Irene Ryabaya founded Monarq with the mission of making it easier for women to make one-on-one, authentic, obligation-free connections with like-minded women so that they can make friends, whether for a day or a lifetime. Murakhovskaya and Ryabaya shared their views on founding a company first, finding an idea second, and their simple powerful advice of: share your idea, commit to it, ask for help. How did you develop the idea for Monarq? As with many things we do, we […]

SERIES W TALKS TO MONARQ


BodyOM
This week Series W spoke to Nikita Singhal, founder of BodyOM. Singhal shared her views on the symbiotic relationship between working in investing and being an entrepreneur, and the importance of meditation in both developing the idea for BodyOM and for getting through those WFIO moments. How did you develop the idea for BodyOM? I have been meditating every day for the past several years. Focusing inward has made me more self-aware – emotionally and physically. I’ve come to realize just how much of an impact our food has on our bodies and our mind, much more so than our […]

SERIES W TALKS TO BodyOM



By Ange Winkle, WSA Co-President Introducing The HBS Pensieve It’s fair to say there are some pretty exceptional individuals at HBS, and not always, but often, they are too modest to volunteer stories of their world-beating successes. The WSA and the Harbus want to shine a spotlight on the geniuses in the coffee line. On the creative prodigies pretending they’re soaking up sun on Spangler lawn, while they’re really planning to disrupt [insert Goliath industry here]. On those quiet individuals who in their past life led teams through enormous difficulty to incredible success. So, we introduce to you HBS’s version […]

AMELIA LIN & THE HBS PENSIEVE


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This week Series W spoke to Anne Fulton and Jo Mills, CEO and President (respectively) of Fuel 50, a world leading SaaS Career Pathing technology delivered by the Career Engagement Group. Fuel50 has gained traction in a new niche market segment in the enterprise HR market, addressing staff retention and engagement for large organizations. See below the interview for more information on Fuel50’s market and business model. How did you develop the idea for Fuel50? Anne: Fuel50 career pathing software has been a significant life’s work for Jo and I.  We both knew from our conversations with HR practitioners around […]

SERIES W TALKS TO FUEL50


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    This week EC and WSA VP of Entrepreneurship, Britt Danneman, shares her take on the other side of the entrepreneurship coin – early stage investing:   You’ve heard a lot from us in the WSA and in the media on female founders lately. We’re excited about the initiatives here on campus and we’re encouraged by the positive momentum in women-led companies both on and off campus. But we need to give equal attention to the other side of the entrepreneurship coin – early stage investing. Marie Claire recently wrote an article about the network of awesome women founders […]

CREATING THE VIRTUOUS CYCLE: CAPITAL FOR FEMALE-LED BUSINESSES