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Startup Operations Application
To be considered for enrollment in Startup Operations in the Spring 2022 cohort, please submit this form before 5 PM on Friday, December 10, 2021.

We expect this course to fill up fast! Therefore, early applications are welcome and encouraged for both Founders and Joiners.

*The Startup Operations course is for registered, second year, HBS students ONLY. Cross registrants from other masters programs at Harvard or MIT will be accepted ONLY as co-founders with an HBS student or as venture joiners on an exception basis. Please contact Prof. Austin for consideration.*

Startup Operations is field course focused on accelerating ventures currently in process and to foster learning for those thinking about launching or joining startup after HBS. This application ensures that we have the right number of ventures and that each venture is at the right stage for the course (see below for more details). Students will work in small teams on a venture currently in flight. No operating business is too advanced for the course. To ensure a good fit with your learning goals, please review the course catalog description for Startup Operations here: . You can also view our syllabus ( to get a sense of the topics we'll cover in the course.

This application is for both startup founders and joiners. After we select ventures, we'll round out enrollment by choosing a group of students who wish to work on these ventures. This group of joiners will be chosen by Prof. Austin who will consider: 1) joiners' reasons for wanting to enroll in Startup Operations; and 2) the value of having a diverse group in terms of past work experience, undergraduate degrees, etc.

We'll inform you about our selection decisions around December 23. For students who are invited to enroll, we'll then run a process to match joiner students to ventures. Our matching process goals are to: 1) give both sides of the match -- founders and joiners -- as much latitude as possible to chose who they want to work with; and 2) expedite the matching process, so we can jump right into the course in January -- ideally, without devoting much class time to team assembly. Consistent with those goals, we'll reserve the right to assign students to ventures if our matchmaking process leaves some orphans.

Working on a classmate's venture will NOT earn a joiner any equity stake in the venture nor any claim on the venture's intellectual property, unless all parties agree to such arrangements.


It's okay to apply as a team of one, two, three or four; you can specify that option below.

Teams of founders with fewer than four members MUST be willing to have joiners help with your venture. This requirement to accept a joiner also applies for students who have co-founders who are not enrolled in Startup Operations. Such co-founders are welcome to attend class, but we'd still ask you to expand your team to include joiners from this course.

A venture suited for Startup Operations will fit one of two profiles:

1. Your venture is at an early stage of development. You've done enough customer discovery work to have some confidence that you've identified a real customer pain point, and you have some hypotheses about potential solutions. These hypotheses are in or beyond the early stages of the solution testing process. You have or are in the process of developing your MVP.

2. You've already launched your business and you are scaling, preparing to make a significant set of changes or pivot towards a new target customer/use-case (e.g., from B2C to B2B).

Ventures that are solutions looking for a problem will not be accepted.

Ventures deemed to be too early (not enough customer research/problem validation) will not be accepted.

Any sector and target market will benefit from the course structure and content.

All accepted teams will be automatically enrolled in the Rock Accelerator (RA). RA funding will be determined by the Rock Venture Partners and will be subject to availability.

All venture applicants are required to meet with Prof. Austin ahead of the application deadline. Please grab a time on her calendar here: [email her FSS if available times don't match your schedule.]. Joiners are welcome, but not required, to meet with Prof. Austin ahead of the deadline.
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What is your name? *
What is your email address? *
How would you like to participate in Startup Operations? *
Please choose one response. Students with ventures deemed not far enough along for the fall term will be encouraged to further develop their venture in the fall and enroll in the spring term. Founders are also welcome to build their joiner empathy and learn through a different venture if their ventures are not selected.
Why do you want to enroll in Startup Operations? *
Please limit your response to 200 words or less. Please let us know if you have relevant skills that could enhance classmates' learning (e.g., design training; coding skills; marketing, sales, manufacturing, experience with user testing, etc.).
What is your current level of startup experience? *
No startup experience is required for Startup Operations, but we do like to know the breadth of entrepreneurial experience in the course. 1 = never worked for, started, invested in or advised a startup; 3 = was an early employee/intern/advisor/investor of a startup; 5 = have been working on current venture for >1 year and/or is a serial entrepreneur (regardless of whether past ventures were deemed a success or failure).
Zero experience
Have worked for or started my own business before HBS
What is your venture's name?
Answer the questions that follow ONLY if you are proposing a venture. We understand the name may change as your venture evolves.
Are you a Rock Accelerator program participant?
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Are you applying as a team?
If so, please, provide other HBS or x-reg team member names below. Only one team member needs to complete the rest of this form.
Tell us more about your venture...
Please provide a link to a brief (<10 slides) deck that describes your venture -- target customer, problem you are solving, proposed solution, likely business model, full team regardless of HBS status (including various skill sets), and work you have completed to-date. If you have a website and/or photos or videos of prototypes please include these in your slide deck. If you have other work that would help us understand your venture and its stage of development, please email it to Prof. Austin at
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