How two Harvard MBA students developed their start-up in the B-School
Roughly 7% of Harvard Business School Class of 2019 MBAs started their own business upon registration.
HBS is consistently viewed as a hub for innovation and talented thinkers.
Chris Abkarians and Nikhil Agrawal, both HBS MBA Class 2020, are no exception. Abkarians and Agrawal co-founded Juno, a startup that uses pooled purchasing power to negotiate better student loan rates. The company has helped hundreds of students access more than $ 100 million in loans, often at better rates and terms.
In the last Voice MBA blog, Abkarians and Agrawal tell the story of Juno and how HBS helped create a successful environment for their startup.
JUNO IS BORN
Juno, formerly LeverEdge, was founded in June 2018.
Before starting at HBS, Abkarians and Agrawal used social media to organize a group of over 700 students at 10 schools, including Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Northwestern Kellogg, and more.
“Within months, we convinced over 700 students from top MBA programs to join a negotiating group – then we reached out to executives from dozens of banks, fintech companies, and credit unions and brought them to bid on the loan portfolio “, Abkarians tells P&Q.
Collectively, the students were able to negotiate lower rates for the entire group, saving each student approximately $ 15,000 each. Since then, Juno has grown its community to over 25,000 members, saving borrowers over $ 26 million.
Juno works by harnessing this idea of group purchasing power. Essentially, the group negotiates with lenders to get the best interest rates available to students.
“Think about student loans, at a volume discount,” like their website States.
Juno then asks the lenders to compete for the business of their members. After selecting a winning lender, Juno shares exclusive offers with its members.
“The most competitive rate we found in general for most people was around 6%, and it came with an origination fee of 2%, essentially a little higher than 6%,” said Agarwal. P&Q. “I think what was going on in the market is that the federal rates were around 6.6% for the first $ 20,000 and the private market basically said, ‘Oh, as long as we beat a bit. the federal rate, we can attract customers. ‘When we stepped in the game changed because they weren’t just competing with the federal rate anymore, they were now competing against each other. I really felt that they had to offer more attractive interest rates.
At HBS, Abkarians and Agrawal have been able to tap into a strong ecosystem + of tools and resources to help Juno succeed in entrepreneurship.
They joined programs such as the Business incubation program, a unique program within Harvard’s Innovation Labs ecosystem that allowed them to check in weekly with an advisor and hours with entrepreneurs in residence to see how they could grow their business.
The Abcariens and the Agrawal were also part of the Rock Summer Scholarship Program, which gave them peer and community support and access to a stipend to cover rent and living expenses for the summer.
In addition to the programs, the Abcariens and Agrawal had access to the expertise of experienced teachers at HBS. Abkarians cite Professor Kevin Mohan of the EC negotiations as playing a vital role in helping them develop Juno from the start.
“We literally spent 30 minutes meeting Professor Mohan, and he completely changed the way we structure negotiations with banks,” Abkarians said. MBA Voice.
For Abcariens and Agrawals, HBS offers a unique atmosphere where entrepreneurs help each other to realize their ideas.
“There’s a magic window while you’re at HBS, where you can connect with anyone in the world, through LinkedIn, through the HBS network, or even a cold email, and they’ll get back to you.” , explains Abkarians. Voice MBA.
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