I rowed competitively from high school through graduate school; its excitement and athleticism greatly appealed to me.
Team rowing, also called crew, made its debut in a contest between Harvard and Yale in 1852. Crew was a sport in the first modern Olympics. The United States men, and more recently women, have won many gold medals.
Two types of rowing exist: sweep rowing, in which the athletes have one oar, and sculling, where each rower has two oars. Sweep rowing crews have one, two, or four pairs, with or without a coxswain. Naturally, an eight-person crew maintains the highest speed.
Crew makes extraordinary demands on its participants; according to physiologists, a 2,000-meter race burns as much energy as two successive games of basketball. Rowing uses a four-stroke system, which works the entire body. When watching the sport, look for teams who seem to show no effort; they are the ones who are working the hardest.
–Marco Bitran is the founder and former Chief Executive Officer of AI Exchange, an innovative investment management firm in Boston, which works with hedge funds and financial advisors.
Harvard Business School’s Alumni New Venture Contest recently concluded its third year by awarding $100,000 in grants to alumni from the classes of 2011, 1996, and 1978. The grand prize of the New Venture Contest was conferred upon Angela Newnam of the class of 1996, who founded an undergarments company with women’s realistic needs in mind.
The Alumni New Venture Contest has two tracks: the New Venture Contest and the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship. In keeping with its goal of aiding alumni who are launching new social-impact ventures or businesses, entrants to the Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship must have founded organizations with a special concentration on “the creation of social value.” Past winners of the contest include a start-up intending to manufacture inexpensive medical beds and a company planning to extract precious metals from electronic waste. Alumni competing for this award are evaluated directly by Harvard Business School staff and faculty.
Entrants to the New Venture Contest, however, compete first within their local alumni clubs and then come together for the final contest. The New Venture Contest awards $75,000 total in prizes, and the Fellowship awards one $25,000 prize, with Honorable Mentions also being granted.
About the Author: Marco Bitran was a semi-finalist in the 2011 Harvard Business School New Venture Contest with his company AI Exchange, which recently raised $1.5 million in venture capital. Bitran earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2003.