25 May 2016
FIELD 3: Taking Down BarriersTopics:
Rob Beiderman (MBA 2014)
Having worked at Goldman Sachs and Bain Capital, Rob Biederman (MBA 2014) arrived at HBS intent on rounding out his skills and returning to the field of private equity. His life took a sharp turn, however, when it came time to develop a business as part of the required FIELD (Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development) course.
“I was interested in entrepreneurship, but I didn’t think that I was cut out for it,” says the Princeton economics major. “FIELD 3 took down a lot of the barriers.” Introduced in 2011, the yearlong FIELD course includes a third module that requires student teams to design and launch a microbusiness. Biederman and several sectionmates came up with HourlyNerd, a platform that dynamically links talented business professionals with companies that need ad hoc expertise.
“We realized that we had a workable business model,” says Biederman, who now runs HourlyNerd with two cofounders. Today, the Boston-based firm has raised three rounds of venture funding, has 45 full-time employees, and works with some 14,000 “nerds”—MBA graduates from a variety of top institutions—who bid on consulting projects across the country. Its client list includes hundreds of the Fortune 1,000 (including GE, Microsoft, and Staples) as well as thousands of Main Street businesses.
In addition to coleading HourlyNerd, Biederman volunteers as a fundraiser for his class. “I realize that the cost of tuition doesn’t cover the School’s costs, so I feel an obligation to help,” he says. Designating his gift for innovation, Biederman is grateful to have found his passion at HBS. “I loved private equity, but running a startup has forced me to develop a completely different set of skills and behaviors. It’s been immensely rewarding, and without HBS, it likely never would have happened.”
Class of MBA 2014, Section F