Did Harvard Punish Student Entrepreneurs or Teach Them How Business Really Works?

Two savvy freshmen at Harvard University are making headlines. They started a potentially successful business on campus, but the real media attention focused on the reaction of the university.

John Harvard

(Photo Credit: InSapphoWeTrust/Flickr)

Freshmen Entrepreneurs

Harvard freshmen Akshar Bonu and Fanele Mashwama may have learned more about business in a few months than some college students learn in four years. The resourceful duo started InstaNomz, a business that brought food from local restaurants directly to students' dorm rooms, for a fee.

They did the same as many successful entrepreneurs: saw a need and found a way to fill it. Students studying late at night may not want to take the time to go out for food, but they still need fuel to continue their work. Why not make money bringing the food to them?

Because, unfortunately, their business model did not comply with Harvard University's regulations. Harvard gave InstaNomz choices. The first option was to operate like other delivery services, which stop short of entering student dormitories, removing a key aspect of what makes InstaNomz unique.

Another option was to partner with the non-profit Harvard Student Agencies, which offers a range of services to students. In response, Bonu and Mashwama close down their company and informed customers on InstaNomz's Facebook page that they were unable to resolve issues with the school's administration.

Lessons Learned

Before we jump to the conclusion that Harvard is shutting down student entrepreneurial spirit, we should look at the bigger picture. After all, running a business requires jumping through hoops, including dealing with rules and regulations at the local, state, and federal levels.

By requiring InstaNomz to comply with university policies, the administration has given these two students real-world experience running a business. They are not the first entrepreneurs to stumble after they get started, and they won't be the last. There is no doubt, however, that the world of business will see more of these two in the future.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think InstaNomz should allowed to operate or was Harvard right to require they comply with policies? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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