The Class of 2010 started school in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Finance was a blackhole. You could walk the hallways of Spangler and see the tired faces of another round of interviews. Jobs were hard to get. But it was also an opportunity. A number of students took the leap of faith to start their own businesses and pursue their dream. In many cases, sectionmates became co-founders and embarked in the roller-coaster journey that is creating something from nothing. If 50% of us will found a startup at some point in our lives, the Class of 2010 certainly has an edge. This article is saluting some of the Class of 2010’s enterprises.
The idea is simple – you have a car that just sits around most of the time in the driveway. RelayRides comes in and enables you to share your car with your neighbors and earn thousands of dollars per year. It’s safe, as they provide a $1,000,000 insurance and really easy to use, because of the technology that eliminates the need to exchange keys. On the other side, people in your community gain access to cars on their block, by the hour or by the day, from just $6/hour (gas and insurance is always included). The service is currently available in Cambridge and surrounding area and has already been covered by The Economist, NY Times and CNN.
Co-founder Shelby Clark said, “My favorite things about RelayRides, and the reason it will succeed, is that it is all about building stronger, greener, smarter communities, and is driven by capitalistic principles. ÿCar owners feel like they’re helping out the borrowers by providing them a car. Borrowers feel like they’re helping out car owners by providing them income- almost like supporting a local business. This has created an incredibly strong, symbiotic community that will continue to strengthen the communities it serves as it grows. Then, to top it off, it makes a lot of sense economically, which we all at HBS know is a very strong motivator.”
The Challenge Project
The Challenge Project is the Zynga for fitness — games that use social networks to incentivize people to complete off-line fitness activities and help others meet their own fitness goals. It was started by sectionmates Justin Weiland and Piruze Sabuncu.
ÿBirchbox delivers a new way to sample beauty products with an interactive online shopping platform. Birchbox is launching in September and combines the reach of online retail with an “of-the-month-club” business model to deliver a better beauty experience. For $10 a month, Birchbox members receive handpicked, oversized samples from top-of-the-line brands across the categories of hair, makeup, and skincare. The websites integrates an editorial and e-commerce sections so users can cut through the clutter and discover products that work for them
“Finding the perfect beauty product is thrilling, but the process itself can be expensive, frustrating and somewhat overwhelming,” said fo-Founder Katia Beauchamp. “Birchbox has stepped in to do the work for you.”
LearnBoost currently offers a critically acclaimed freeÿgradebookÿand lesson plan software for teachers. Rafael Corrales found himself a technical co-founder and a product/design co-founder in San Francisco and received funding from the same investors that backed innovative companies like Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, and more.
LearnBoost’s product is already used by over 1,500 schools and teachers, and CEO Rafael says “we plan to expand by adding capabilities for administrators, parents, and students so that we can offer amazing software systems for schools while saving them money with our freemium business model.”
CleverBootz is an innovative new travel company that makes travel planning easy, fun and social. They are all about putting sophisticated tools in the hands of travel planners — especially for those multi-destination trips that business school students are so fond of taking during their long breaks.
The first version of the product helps with the first step in travel planning: deciding where to go and who to go with. To that end, you can go to www.cleverbootz.com and add places to your “Must-Visit! list.” Get your friends to do the same. CleverBootz lets you know who wants to go where you want to go – and you’re ready to plan your trip together.
Founder Minal Mehta says: “It is currently complicated and cumbersome to plan travel. We’re going to change that. The goal is to make planning every bit as fun as the actual trip.”
Have an old cell phone you want to sell? EcoSquid may be the solution for you. With the proliferation of smart-phones and other high tech, high churn products, consumers need an easy solution to deal with their old devices. ÿWhether this means selling high value gadgets for cash, or finding convenient, environmentally responsible recycling locations for low value products, EcoSquid makes it easy to find the right solutions.
Founder Nik Raman said, “My vision is to be the industry platform for the collection of consumer electronics.”
TroopSwap is intended to be a Craigslist in camouflage, a gated community designed exclusively for military service members and their families. TroopSwap also has a double bottom line with 10% of profits going to the Wounded Warrior Project.
TroopSwap was co-founded by Blake Hall, Abram Walters, Matt Thompson, all HBS ’10 and Mike Slagh from HKS. Hall said, “The military is a very insular community. It has its own language, schools and culture. It’s tightly-knit, because it’s based on shared values. ÿBy making site the site exclusively for military service members, veterans and their families as they transition, you’re able to serve them in a way like Craigslist.com, that’s oriented towards the general public, simply can’t.
Amit Garg used to be a writer and the science and technology editor for “The Stanford Daily”. After undergrad and masters in that sunny Cali haven, four years at Google, dabbling in non-profits and startups, and picking up HBS along the way, he is trying to keep his journalistic groove on.