Seven HBS female alumni from the classes of 2010 to 2013 recently formed a panel on entrepreneurship in women’s fashion. Each was astonishing in her own way. What makes them take the risks, face the challenges, put in the effort?

Answer: Pain. Passion. Perspective. Focus. An ability to marshal resources and supporters. People who won’t take no for an answer. And more.


 1. Each of the seven start-up businesses is based on a “personal pain point,” an unhappy experience with the product, the shopping process, the search process.

 2. Each pain point has been vetted by some form of consumer research. And turned into a great business model and plan to which they are “all in.”

 3. While each founder had some relatively limited business experience, they believed in their own ability as problem-solvers and the power of their passion for the business in overcoming a lack of industry experience.

 4. Most, however, recognized the need for industry experience for credibility with the trade and recruited boldface names as associates or advisors as well as seeking help from friends at incubators and vc firms.  

 5. They display a granular, detailed knowledge of who their customer really is, how she spends her day, what she needs, what she wants.

 6. All are do-ers who know the experience is a roller coaster ride.

“You’ve got to expect to devote big time to doing paperwork, fixing the copier, checking the inventory.”“The first time there is a great mention in the press is a high! We know it is only a step, but it feels almost as good as the first flood of orders!”

7. All seem wise beyond their years in establishing a culture, driving for consistency of behavior as well as product for examples. And in recognizing the need on at least one occasion to fire someone dear to them.

8. They are part of a collegial community of female entrepreneurs formed at Harvard Business School but have enlarged that community in New York.

Sure there are mountains to climb: funding (some have used crowdfunding), finding computer science engineers and a CTO.

But in the past few years, there has been a saying at HBS: “Better to create your own job than look for one in this market.” They seem to have taken the saying to heart.

 If you want to learn more, leave a comment for me or visit the Harvard Business School Women’s Association at:

 HBS Women New York

That’s just my view. What’s yours?


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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH

How Ordinary People Become
Extraordinary Leaders

by Stephen H. Baum (Random House)

Most leaders of American companies started out as ordinary people. What prepared them for the top job?

Countless more ordinary people of equal talent never developed the leadership core required to run the show. Why not?

"Lessons for life about the core leadership traits of character, risk taking decisiveness and the ability to engage and inspire followers."
--Jim Clifton, CEO, The Gallup Organization


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