Following our global immersion experience in developing countries, we are now in the final stage of the FIELD program. Our mission this time is to form teams of 6-7 and create and launch a new business. We are given free rein and the business idea is totally up to us, except for a couple of prohibited businesses: alcohol, gambling, etc. – anything that could conceivably end up as a TV crime drama.
Each team is allocated an initial budget of $5,000, a bank account, and some intangible resources – HBS alumni advisors as well as legal support. Fully leveraging our FIELD 1 and FIELD 2 experiences, we are to develop a business plan with the view of getting to market in late April.
Of course, not all business plans will come to fruition. All teams will present their business plans to the other teams, faculty and outside investors, with the result that only a limited number of teams will actually get to market. So even if HBS students come up with 150 business ideas, most of them will never see the light of day.
However, the top business plans will survive the process – resulting in a launch and funds supplied by real outside investors. In fact, previous years’ top teams are still growing their businesses with munificent injected money, and have professional advisory board member from well-known companies, such as Disney.
Of further interest in this exercise - each team has its own ticker symbol, and is traded on a virtual financial market. Students also have their own investment funds (starting with $100,000) and invest in other section’s business plans. Based on the stock’s performance, additional funds (actual money) are given to top performing teams.
Now, some teams are already launching their products’ beta version while others are still struggling to develop a viable business plan. But according to previous years’ trends, well-started teams don’t necessarily result in good performance, and vice versa. Our team is in the middle of our section. At this point, it’s still anybody’s guess which team will win when the dust settles…