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HBS Field: “Go Day”

February 24, 2012

Field 3 is well under way and I feel a lucrative IPO in the not-so-distant future.  Last week we had “Go Day”, which was an opportunity to pitch our business ideas to the people who are going to be “investing” in our businesses.  Each group had ten minutes to convince investors that its idea has the potential to become a sustainable business within the next five years.  Most groups focused on the attractiveness of the market, value proposition of the product or service, and revenue model.  People got pretty creative, actually.  There were more than a few pitches that involved hilarious skits, product mock-ups / wireframes, and interactive games.  Overall I was impressed with the quality of the business ideas.  People pitched concepts across industries as diverse as education, pets, travel, consumer goods, and games.

After the pitches concluded, the “market” opened.  Each of us has an allotment of money to invest in the most promising sounding ideas.  HBS did an awesome job creating a custom marketplace for us to use.  Each team has a ticker symbol and the trading process is very fluid.  Although a lot of the ideas were interesting, some of them just didn’t seem super feasible to me.  For those companies, instead of buying their stock (and effectively pumping up the price by doing so), I shorted them, which basically just means making a bet against them (which drives their stock price down).  The market is a cool way to assign a market value to your idea and give you a read on how investors perceived the viability of your concept.  I’m happy to report that my business’s valuation is solid, at least for now!  The market will be opening at regular intervals as the semester moves on, so we’ve got to make sure that we follow through on our value proposition and adequately communicate our progress to investors.

As a humorous aside:  Turns out that some finance-types figured out how to game the trading system by aggressively “day trading” in order to generate massively outsized returns for themselves.  We got an email from the administration that, while they admire this investing savvy, they will be taking measures to ensure that short term gains and losses can’t be exploited in future trading sessions.  The point is to have a market-based indication of the long term viability of your business, which requires investors to take a longer term view.  Ahhh, HBS students…so enterprising.

Overall, Field 3 has been a blast.  As an aspiring entrepreneur myself, it is invaluable to have the experience of starting a business with so much support.  I think of it as entrepreneurship with training wheels.  There are also some cool ways to integrate the Field 3 experience with our coursework.  For example, this week we are doing a joint assignment with our Strategy class.  We just finished a unit on industry analysis using the Five Forces framework, and the project is to do this sort of analysis for the industries that we are planning to launch our businesses in.

I can’t wait to get your feedback on my team’s business idea, stay tuned!

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