What do you need to know about applying to PM101?

Applications for PM101 are now open!

To be considered for enrollment in Product Management 101, please submit this form before 5 PM on Friday, August 9. Early applications are welcome and encouraged!

Course Catalogue Description

FAQ:

Q: I am a masters student at another Harvard school or at MIT. May I apply to PM101?

A: Only registered HBS Students are eligible to apply for PM101. Cross registrants from other Harvard or MIT masters programs will be considered as project joiners on an exception basis. Please contact Prof. Austin directly for consideration.

Q: What is the workload for PM101?

A: PM101 is a project-based course with no case discussions. Enrolled students should expect to spend at least one full day outside of class sessions working in small teams on assignments and product research.   

Q: How are projects selected for the course?

A: We seek to have the right number and mix of digital projects, and that each project is at the right stage of development for the course. We do not select projects based on market viability or long term strategy, however there should be adequate scoping of the idea to provide a robust learning experience. 

 

Q: How are joiners selected for the course?

A: After we select projects, we'll round out enrollment by choosing a group of students who wish to work on projects originated by classmates or by the instructors. This group of "joiners" will be chosen mostly via matching process facilitated by Prof. Austin, although we'll also take into account: 1) your reasons for wanting to enroll in PM101 and 2) the value of having a diverse group in terms of past work experience, undergraduate degrees, etc.

Q: How do we manage the EC course selection process if PM101 is application-only?

A: Choose your schedule around PM101 and/or put a lower ranking course in the overlapping time slot. By September 6, we will notify the registrar of all students invited to enroll in PM101. You will be responsible for dropping any conflicting courses. This course always has a waiting list - therefore, please let the instructor know ASAP if you do not wish to enroll or wish to withdraw your application so we can allow other students to enroll. NOTE: Attendance is required for all Wednesday lab sessions; they are NOT optional.

Q: Is it ok to apply if I've been a product manager before?

A: This course is for students with limited prior product management experience. Therefore, you should NOT apply if you have been a full-time product manager in a tech company/startup for one year or more. Those with PM experience in other industries (e.g., CPG) may find the course insightful - especially if you wish to transition to tech industry.

Q: How is this course different than the Startup Bootcamp during J-term?

A: Bootcamp is a great overview of what it takes to develop an idea into a business. It is ideal for students considering starting or joining a startup to get a feel for what's involved. In PM101 & 102, we go multiple levels deep into the product work, specifically. You will do detailed analysis and testing of hypothesis, learn how to find, hire and manage a developer and actually build your MVP. While we don't get into business planning or raising capital in the course, we do discuss and prepare founding teams on how to work the product strategy into these aspects of a startup. Further, we spend time discussing how to go from MVP to a fully featured product, at scale. In short, Bootcamp is a perfect primer for those who wish to take this course!

Q: When are projects selected for the course?

A: We'll inform applicants about our selection decisions around Aug. 23. For students who are invited to enroll, we'll then run a process to match students to projects. Our goals will be to: 1) give both sides of the match -- project "founders" and "joiners" -- as much latitude as possible to chose who they want to work with; and 2) expedite the matching process, so we can jump right into product development in early September -- ideally, without devoting much class time to team assembly. Consistent with those goals, we'll reserve the right to assign students to projects if our matchmaking process leaves some orphans.

Q: If I am a project founder, will I have to share equity with the project joiners on my team?

A: Working on a classmate's project will NOT earn a "joiner" any equity stake in the project nor any claim on the project's intellectual property, unless all parties agree to such arrangements. That said, it is not unusual for co-founders to find each other in the course!

FOR STUDENTS PROPOSING PROJECTS ONLY

Q: Can more than one student apply as project founders?

A: It's okay to apply as a team of two, three or four; you can specify that option in the application. Solo student "founders" or teams of two founders MUST be willing to have "joiners" help with your project. This requirement to accept a "joiner" also applies for students who have co-founders who aren't enrolled in PM101. Such co-founders are welcome to attend class, but we'd still ask you to expand your team to include "joiners" from PM101.  

Q: What types of projects are best suited for PM101?

A: A project suited for PM101 will fit one of two profiles:

  1. Your idea is at an early stage of development. You've done enough customer discovery work to have some confidence that you've identified a real customer pain point, and you have some hypotheses about potential solutions. However, these hypotheses haven't yet been tested and you don't have specifications/preliminary designs in hand. Projects that are technologies looking for a problem are discouraged.

  2. You've already launched your website/application, and you are preparing to make a significant set of changes or pivot towards a new target customer/use-case (e.g., from B2C to B2B). You have hypotheses about these changes, but you haven't tested the hypotheses nor have you completed specification and design work.

 

Q: Do you accept hardware projects in PM101?

A: We only build digital products in PM101. Hardware-oriented products will only be accepted if there are substantive software components to develop for your product.

If you are not sure whether your project is a fit for PM101, you are encouraged to schedule a call or meeting with Prof. Austin over the summer, before the application deadline.
 

Julia Austin, Senior Lecturer

Harvard Business School

Rock Center 115