HBS Reunion Presentations

harvard business school logoLast month I was fortunate enough to serve on the “Leadership in Public Service” panel during annual presentations for Harvard Business School Reunions. I shared the stage with several incredible Harvard grads who have done great things since leaving school. Below is a brief recap of the day’s events.

Panel – Joining and Serving on Boards
Moderator: Howard Brod Brownstein (JD/MBA 1975), President, The Brownstein Corporation

  • Lana Lewin (MBA 1995), Treasurer, Planned Parenthood of New York City; Managing Director, Crédit Suisse
  • John T. Mapes (MBA 1995), Managing Partner, Aurora Capital Group
  • John F. Ryan IV (MBA 2000), Managing Director, ONSET Ventures
  • Eric C. Salzman (MBA 1995), Managing Partner, SarniHaan Capital Partners LLC

Corporate governance is increasingly in the news, including – all too often – the lack thereof. At the same time, serving on boards, both for-profit and nonprofit, is a growing career ambition for many HBS graduates. This panel of accomplished HBS alumni will share their experiences regarding joining and serving on boards and will provide valuable advice about how to join boards and what to expect when one gets there.

Panel – Leadership in Public Service
Moderator: Mitchell B. Weiss, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, HBS; formerly Chief of Staff to Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino

  • Aaron Chadbourne (MBA 2011), Senior Policy Advisor, Governor Paul LePage, Maine
  • Mina Hsiang (MBA 2010), Health Data Expert, US Digital Service at the White House
  • Jason Lewis (MBA 1995), State Senator, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Ryan Mackenzie (MBA 2010), Member and Deputy Majority Whip, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

David Linn (MBA 2000), Principal/Cofounder, Oak Point Partners/Cycle for Survival
Cycle for Survival is the national movement to beat rare cancers. Linn founded the high-energy indoor team cycling events in 2007 with his late wife, Jen Goodman Linn (MBA 1999). Cycle for Survival is now the fastest-growing athletic fundraiser in the country with more than $75 million raised for cancer research.

Splitting Equity Between Co-Founders

aaron chadbourne maine legal hero blogAnnie Webber, founder and CEO of Legal Hero, recently published a 2-part blog on splitting equity between co-founders. You can find the article at Legal Hero.

Starting a new business comes with a lot of excitement, little sleep, and a to-do list that seemingly never ends. Amidst the excitement, it is increasingly easy to avoid a difficult, yet necessary conversation about splitting equity between co-founders. While the topic is easy to postpone, you do not want to deal with the potential fallout and subsequent tougher conversation down the road.

Most assume that co-founders should split equity evenly. This is not necessarily flawed thinking, but there are plenty of reasons this argument does not hold up. Most co-founders divide equity equally for the following reasons:

  • Avoiding the awkward conversation, potential arguments, and parting ways.
  • Everyone is equal, so they all deserve an equal share.
  • An even split simplifies everything. Now they can focus more important things.
  • Co-founders want to make every important decision together.

These are honorable positions on the issue, but not exactly the most beneficial for the company. Running a business requires difficult, yet constructive conversations. Learning this early will be vital to your success. It is also important to understand that co-founders ultimately offer different skill sets. As Annie notes in her blog, “to suggest these skill sets and resources are equally valuable is a bit silly.”

Visit Legal Hero for further details on splitting equity, including a detailed framework to help resolve the issue.

Ring – Video Doorbell

aaron chadbourne washington dc ring video doorbellRing is a video doorbell service that utilizes your smartphone to answer your door from essentially anywhere. From your cellphone, Ring provides users a clear view of their door, day or night. The HD camera with night vision capabilities is motion-triggered and sends notifications of arriving guests via the Ring app. Ring is easily installed with no specific tools or professional help needed.

Ring utilizes one-way video and two-way communication so users can see and communicate with front door visitors. At the moment your doorbell is pressed, you are notified through the phone app. The app allows you to answer directly, view the guest, and choose whether you would like to answer. Future updates will allow Ring to monitor and record motion-activated activity at your front door. The footage will automatically be saved to the cloud and will be available to you for future review. This is beneficial as someone could easily approach your door without ever ringing the doorbell. You can now be alerted by the mere presence of someone on your property.

According to user reports, the voice communication fulfills its purpose and easily allows you to speak with guests. Whether a salesman, plumber, UPS, or neighborhood kid, users are easily able to communicate to their guests. With a quality wide-angled view, you are able to see everything happen at the front door, or wherever you choose to install the product. This is a great product for the traditional homeowner who enjoys being connected to their home through various electronic devices. Simply put, ring is a tool which provides a modern design and solution to an everyday scenario.

Overall, Ring is a valuable and essential upgrade to an old household feature. It is extremely beneficial for the homeowner who needs to monitor their home while away, especially if kids are home, or if you are expecting deliveries. Whether you are in the shower, or at the office, Ring allows you to save any further delay by addressing the delivery guy from your phone.

Check out their website for further details about Ring.

Hampton Creek – Food Tech Startup

aaron chadbourne entrepreneur startups washington dc
Hampton Creek

A food tech startup, Hampton Creek, recently raised $90M in their Series C round from venture capital. The company that produces synthetic egg products has been peaking the interest of notable billionaire investors, such as Marc Benioff, President of Salesforce, and Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook.

Founder and CEO of Hampton Creek, Josh Tetrick, explains that more wealthy investors could have a future-focused outlook rather than less wealthy investors looking to make a quick return on their investment. Wealthy investors are trying to solve world problems rather than make a fast turn-around.

Food technology is a hot commodity for venture capitalists because of their potential to solve bigger problems in the future. Hampton Creek is providing their customers with a healthy, sustainable, and cost-effective alternative for replacing comparable nutrients in egg to other food products.

Not only is Hampton Creek making a big splash with wealthy investors and venture capitalists, but they are also catching the attention of food companies across the globe. Three different food companies have partnered with Hampton Creek, including one of the major food conglomerates in Asia, Uni-President. Other major investors in the company are Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman. These two are the co-founders of DeepMind Technologies, an artificial intelligence startup that was bought by Google for $400M.

Tetrick plans on using this seed round of investment capital on increasing their lab automation capabilities and developing a new process for their plant screening. Their products are already in 15,000 locations in Asia and the United States. They recently opened their new office in Singapore and hired a former Google employee, Christian Cadeo to lead their regional expansion in Asia.  They have plans on expanding their business to Western Europe in the near future.

Asia is a great place for the Hampton Creek product because of rising food safety concerns in the area. They’ve already had their eggless cookie dough and mayo flying off the shelves. Next they are working on their eggless scrambled eggs. I’m certainly interested to see how that one turns out.

Their eggless, plant-based products are considerably cheaper than your ordinary chicken egg: 48% cheaper. Their product is looking to create an affordable, healthy food product for the improvement of the food industry in the future.