With $3,000 of seed capital from Harvard Business School, around 150 MBA teams were tasked with developing their very own micro-businesses in short order. Here's what they came up with.
By John A. Byrne
(Poets&Quants) -- The idea initially came as something of a joke.
Earlier this year, a team of six Harvard Business School MBA students was brainstorming ideas for a new startup business. They came up with a peculiar takeoff on all the online dating sites: a Facebook application for Jewish mothers to set their children up with potential marriage material.
When the team shared the idea with fellow students, they heard nothing but skepticism. "They said there were a lot of barriers to entry," recalls Jyll Saskin, 24, one of the team members. "Others said they didn't think the market would be that big for it."
The feedback led to some serious rethinking. "We said, 'What if we expanded the idea to leverage the power of friend networks?' adds Saskin. "Friends could serve as yentas to recommend dates for their friends."
With $3,000 of seed capital from Harvard Business School, Yenta was launched last week along with as many as 150 other new startups in what might well be the largest single experiment in entrepreneurship ever undertaken. The so-called "micro-businesses" range from a company called Kinsey that sells "premium undergarments" for men to another called 4n Friend that is creating an online network that matches language tutors with students all over the world.