How To Strengthen The Innovation Economy6 June, 2017 / Articles
Jodi Goldstein has been a startup executive, founder and investor and now she is using the skills she acquired to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs. Goldstein is the managing director of the Harvard Innovation Lab, a cross-disciplinary resource for the Harvard community to explore innovation and entrepreneurship. “There are so many rewarding aspects of creating a space that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship, but the biggest is this: the amazingly inspiring students that will make a real difference in the world. I feel so fortunate to be part of an initiative that can support them so they will ultimately turn their ideas into reality,” Goldstein says. As managing director of Harvard Innovation Lab, she and her team focus on supporting first-time entrepreneurs, propelling early-stage ventures and strengthening the innovation economy.
Gross: How did you end up at Harvard Innovation Lab? What was your career path? How did you land your role?
Jodi Goldstein: I began my career at General Electric (GE) in their Financial Management Program (FMP) and was a member of their corporate audit staff. It was an incredible learning experience, enabling me to travel the world and gain experience in multiple industries and business units. But I knew after a couple of years that corporate life wasn’t for me. I was a risk taker and wanted to do something more entrepreneurial.
I left GE to take a venture capital opportunity with TA Associates. I wanted to understand entrepreneurship from the investment side and learn what it takes to start and grow a successful venture.
I was fortunate to work in venture capital prior to business school, but in order to progress, business school was the next step. I went to Harvard Business School (HBS) in 1994, which, coincidentally, was the first year HBS had email. It was a transformational time in history as the internet was just starting to take shape. I was so intrigued with the future potential, I felt that I had to be a part of it. Coming out of HBS, I decided to do what few of my classmates were doing in the mid-90s – join a startup instead of a well-established consulting firm or financial institution.
From 1996 through 2011, I spent 15 years working on the management teams of several venture-backed startups, including iMarket (sold to Dun & Bradstreet), Planetall (sold to Amazon for more than $100 million), Send.com, Hoteluxury.com and Mobicious. Most recently, I cofounded Drync, a mobile app that enables consumers to find, track, share and purchase wines.
After founding Drync, I was at the stage of career where I wanted to leverage my experiences and focus on helping other startups succeed. Right around that time, a friend of mine who worked at Harvard told me about a job opportunity that she thought I’d be perfect for. It was for the not yet opened Harvard Innovation Lab.