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Fred Wilson: My Harvard Business School Lecture

If business school is turning into entrepreneur school, then that's a damn good thing.
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Yesterday I went up to Harvard Business School and participated in a lunch and a class. My friend Jeff Bussgang arranged the trip and we were hosted by HBS Professor Tom Eisenmann. Jeff and I sat in front of Tom's class Launching Technology Ventures and talked for almost 2 hours on topics like Lean Startup Methodology, Pivoting, doing a startup vs joining a startup, and more.

I can tell you this, the HBS I visited is not the HBS I used to know. The students I had lunch with had all built a startup and exited before going to HBS. The knowledge and passion for startups evident in Tom's class was off the charts. If business school is turning into entrepreneur school, then that's a damn good thing.

Anyway, Jeff took notes from the day and posted them on his blog. Every time I talk in front of a large group and take questions, some things come out of my mouth that are new thoughts that I've not expressed before. Between Jeff's post and the tweet stream from the class, I was able to review the talk and a few thoughts struck me as good enough to share here.

  • There is a very high correlation between lean startup approach and the top performing companies in our two funds.

  • Lean startup methology is great, but it is really a lean startup culture you want.
  • Lean startup is a machine, garbage in will give you garbage out.
  • Early in a startup, product decisions should be hunch driven. Later on, product decisions should be data driven.
  • Hunches come from being a power user of the products in your category and from having a long standing obsession about the problem you are solving.
  • Domain expertise to the point of obsession is highly correlated with the most successful entrepeneurs in our portfolio.
  • Ideas that most people derided as ridiculous have produced the best outcomes. Don't do the obvious thing.
  • Monetization should be native and improve the experience for users.
  • If you have an idea that you can't get out of your head, do a startup. Otherwise join a startup.
  • If you are not technical, get product experience. Get your hands dirty and work with engineers.
  • Take risks when you get out of business school. If you don't take risks, you won't find yourself in an interesting job and career.
  • Finally, I'd like to say that Tom encouraged his class to tweet during class. I think that is fantastic.
    is like publicly available course notes for the class we did yesterday. Every time I talk to a class full of students I am going to call out a hashtag at the start of class and encourage tweeting.

    I'm very encouraged with what is going on at HBS and some of the other top business schools I've visited this year. Entrepreneurship is alive and well and a growing theme of business education. As it should be.

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