Designed to bring together entrepreneurs, investors and innovators from across the HBS community and New York startup ecosystem, this annual event will feature an exciting group of speakers and panelists who will address several of the most topical issues facing startups across a range of industries and at various stages. Join us for a stimulating afternoon of brainstorming.
Agenda: (subject to change)
4:00PM – 5:00PM: Interactive Case Study led by HBS Professor Shikhar Ghosh (MBA ’80)
5:00PM – 5:10PM: Networking Break
5:10PM – 5:50PM: Panel of 4-5 HBS Founders will speak candidly about a Big Problem that they’ve identified, their Big Idea to solve it and the ups and downs of holding that conviction along the way
5:50PM – 7:00PM: The professor will close the event hearing 5 or so Big Ideas from the audience
Shikhar Ghosh (MBA ’80)
Andrew Forman (MBA ’17) Founder & CEO of Givz
KJ Miller (MBA ’14) Founder of Mented
Tiffany Pham (MBA ’12) Founder & CEO of Mogul
Allison Egan (MBA ’16), Founder of Veracity
Avi Telyas (MBA ’86) of Makerhoods
Jennifer Hurford(MBA/MPP ’17)
Gregory Meredith(MBA ’86)
Ali Amarsy (PLDA ’16)
Description of Case Study:
Entrepreneurs confront pressing problems that existing solutions either haven’t been able to solve or haven’t solved well. Can entrepreneurial skills and experience be applied to social change?
In 2003, Wes Hall founded Kingsdale Advisors, a leading shareholder services and advisory firm based in Toronto, Canada. After a series of social injustices—including the death of George Floyd in police custody—occurred in spring 2020, Hall had an idea to use his privilege, power, and position to make a social impact. He decided to risk his financial security and potentially jeopardize his reputation to launch a new venture, BlackNorth Initiative, to combat systemic racism.
Hall wants BlackNorth Initiative to have lasting impact after the momentum and outrage around the murder of George Floyd fades. How would he build his company to accomplish that goal? What testing should he do? How would he establish the organization—what steps could he take to ensure its mission continues? Does he need to think differently when he’s fundraising and setting up the funding structure?
Shikhar Ghosh is a Professor of Management Practice in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit. He currently teaches and is the course head for Founders’ Journey in the elective curriculum and is also the Faculty Co-Chair of the HBS Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. He formerly taught and served as co-course head of The Entrepreneurial Manager, required for all 900 1st-year MBAs.
Shikhar has been a successful entrepreneur for the last 20 years. He has been the founder and CEO or Chairman of eight technology-based entrepreneurial companies and was the past Chairman of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MTLC) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TIE) – two leading entrepreneurial organizations. He was selected by Business Week as one of the best Entrepreneurs in the US, by Forbes as one of the ‘Masters of the Internet Universe’ and by Fortune as the CEO of one of the 10 most innovative companies in the US. Companies he founded were selected as both the ‘hottest’ and ‘coolest’ emerging companies by business publications.
Shikhar joined the Boston Consulting Group after getting his MBA from HBS in 1980. At BCG he focused on organization and innovation in large organizations. He was elected a worldwide partner of the firm in 1987. Shikhar left BCG in 1988 to become CEO of Appex, an early-stage venture backed company that built the inter-carrier infrastructure for the US mobile phone industry. Appex provided centralized services that enabled independent mobile carriers to operate as a single seamless network. Appex’s services included call forwarding across carriers, fraud prevention services, billing and customer service. Appex was bought by EDS in 1990. By the time Shikhar left in 1993, Appex’s revenues exceeded $100 million with an order backlog of over $1 billion. It was selected by Business week as the fastest growing private company in the US.
Shikhar founded Open Market in 1993. Open Market was one of the pioneering companies in the commercialization of the Internet. It built the first commercial infrastructure for enabling secure commerce on the Internet and provided the software and services that enabled companies like Time Warner and AT&T to offer their services on the Internet. Open Market was one of the first Internet companies to go public. It was selected by numerous business publications as one of the companies that helped to make the Internet what it is today.
Since leaving Open Market Shikhar has been the founder, CEO or Chairman of several companies in the wireless, payment, Internet marketing, and on-line retailing industries. He has worked in all facets of the entrepreneurial process – starting companies with technical teams, providing and raising capital with venture capitalists, buying and selling companies, or taking them public and closing down unsuccessful companies. He has been a keynote speaker in numerous conferences on innovation, entrepreneurship, digital media and on the future of the Internet.
Chair, HBSCNY Alumni Startups
SVP, Global Product Strategy Lead at Publicis Commerce
As the Global Product Strategy Lead at Publicis Commerce, Ali Amarsy is responsible for shaping the commerce offering in 25+ Publicis Groupe markets. He works closely alongside partners such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Snapchat, to help Publicis Groupe clients like GSK and Samsung achieve stronger commerce outcomes.
Prior to his current role, Amarsy co-founded an Artificial Intelligence startup, gramLabs, Inc. (now known as Carbon Relay). The company has been featured in Forbes as an up-and-coming market player for its innovative AI technologies; was selected as a Harvard Business School case study taught to MBAs, and also landed him an invite to the White House for an investment and innovation unveiling, hosted by the U.S. President and Vice President, as a strategic partner to modernize American manufacturing. Carbon Relay was acquired in 2019 by Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer.
Co-Founder and CEO, Mented Cosmetics
KJ Miller is the Co-founder and CEO of Mented Cosmetics, a pigment-first beauty brand celebrating women of all hues. Since its 2017 launch Mented has achieved rapid growth by helping women feel seen and empowered with its inclusive shade range. KJ led the company in securing over $4M in venture funding, and has been featured in several publications including Forbes, Fast Company and The New York Times for her authentic, relatable approach to entrepreneurship.
Co-Founder, CEO Givz
Andrew is the Co-Founder and CEO of Givz. On a mission to help companies drive sales and avoid discounts while building their brand image, Givz is a leading impact marketing technology platform that converts discounts into donations.
Prior to Givz, Andrew spent 6 years in investment banking and was the treasurer of a nonprofit organization. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Mathematics and Economics from Hamilton College. He lives in New York with his wife and 1-year-old daughter and loves playing any sport/game whenever he has the chance.
Founder and CEO of Veracity Selfcare
Allie is the Founder and CEO of Veracity Selfcare, a next-generation beauty and wellness brand empowering women to understand the connection between their skin and their broader health through convenient at-home testing and a holistic, data-driven approach to product innovation. Prior to founding Veracity, Allie was the CEO of the women’s fashion brand, Cynthia Rowley where she led the transformation to DTC and more than doubled the business in two years. She has extensive experience in the beauty industry through her time at some of Estee Lauder’s best brands, including Origins, Clinique, and La Mer. She also has broad consumer experience and exposure through her time as an investor at L Catterton. She holds a BS in Finance and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School.
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