Harvard Student Agencies
|Founded||Harvard University, 1957|
Harvard Student Agencies, Inc. (HSA) is the largest student-run company in the world, employing more than 650 Harvard undergraduates annually. Founded in 1957, HSA is a multimillion-dollar non-profit that provides Harvard University students with meaningful opportunities for employment and hands-on business education. Student managers lead all aspects of the operations and strategy behind HSA's 12 businesses, which range from publishing to tutoring to bartending, including Let's Go (the leader in student travel), HSA Cleaners (a laundry and dry-cleaning service), and The Harvard Shop (a storefront and web retail business).
HSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and was founded to help defray rising tuition costs while providing practical business experience for Harvard undergraduates and supplying services to the campus community.
HSA was founded in 1957 on the ideal of financing education through student employment. With Harvard's tuition on the rise, members of the Financial Aid Office were concerned that the increased cost of higher education would adversely affect the social and economic make-up of those applying to Harvard. At the same time, some ambitious students were running small-scale businesses out of their dorm rooms. John Munro, Dean of Financial Aid, assigned Dustin M. Burke, Director of Student Employment, to investigate student businesses as a possible source of financial aid and to begin developing the idea that would become Harvard Student Agencies.
Later that spring, a meeting with student managers revealed considerable interest in the idea of a corporation, and more concrete plans began to emerge. With an initial capital investment of $7,000 and the acquisition of the rights to provide the weekly linen service traditionally offered by the university, HSA was equipped to carry its corporate overhead. The remaining pieces quickly fell into place. In August 1957, the papers authorizing a new company were filed. On September 10, the new corporation's first meeting was held. On December 13, 1957, the charter was signed recognizing the six original incorporators: John Munro, Dustin Burke, Greg Stone, John Giannetti, Theodore Elliot, and Harold Rosenwald.
Since then, the company has grown significantly over the past 6 decades. Let's Go publishing was the leading agency for much of 1980s and 1990s, at one point publishing over 50 titles annually. With the recent decline in publishing travel, however, The Harvard Shop has become the largest operation for the Harvard Student Agencies. With a robust e-commerce presence as well as three physical locations in the square, it aims to serve tourists, locals, and students alike. The company has expanded organically and through acquiring startups that align with the company's mission.
HSA Cleaners (est. 1957) provides the Harvard community and Greater Boston area with high quality laundry, dry cleaning, bulk wash, and linen rental services at the most competitive prices in all of Harvard Square. With five physical locations as well as a timesaving pick-up and delivery service, HSA Cleaners is dedicated to serving local businesses, residents, and the campus community.
HSA Dorm Essentials (est. 1957) gives Harvard students everything they need to live comfortably on campus. HSA Dorm Essentials provides linens, drink delivery, furniture, refrigerators, fans, and packing boxes to students as well as to alumni and summer program participants.
Let’s Go (est. 1960) is the only travel guide created exclusively by students for students. Run entirely by Harvard students, Let’s Go offers a fresh, young perspective on hundreds of travel destinations around the globe, and has become one of the most popular hubs of travel information, tips, and know-how through its guides, mobile apps, and website. Built around the unique viewpoint of energetic, budget-minded explorers, Let’s Go’s firsthand, insider knowledge of the student travel experience entices adventure lovers of all ages.
The Harvard Bartending Course (est. 1963) provides TIPS certification and mixology training for aspiring bartenders in the Boston area. Popular among both students and community members, the one-day course has trained more than 50,000 participants, giving graduates the certification and skills to bartend at any restaurant, bar, or club.
HSA Marketing (est. 1975) connects outside businesses with the Harvard community as well as other Boston campuses. With a broad portfolio of online and print publications, such as the Unofficial Guide series and the Harvard Guide to Summer Opportunities, HSA Marketing provides custom advertising packages to suit businesses’ unique needs.
Harvard Distribution (est. 1980) offers campus postering, mailbox stuffing, and door-dropping services to connect businesses with students at Harvard and MIT. The Harvard Distribution team distributes inside student dormitories, putting advertisers as close to the undergraduate community as possible.
The Cronin Center for Enterprise (est. 1998) plans and funds cutting-edge educational forums and career development programs to spur undergraduate interest in business, and to bridge the gap between education and professional careers. The Cronin Center for Enterprise’s capstone program, the Business Leadership Program, provides select undergraduates with a unique educational experience combining lectures from Harvard Business School professors with corporate presentations and networking events.
The Harvard Shop (est. 2001) offers Harvard merchandise and apparel for students, affiliates, and visitors alike at its three Harvard Square locations and an online store. The Harvard Shop is the exclusive supplier of the One Ring, the only Harvard University class ring officially sponsored by students.
HSA Tutoring (est. 2006) provides comprehensive SAT and other standardized test prep, as well as private in-person and online academic tutoring. In addition to offering tutoring packages and the SAT and ACT SOS Courses, HSA Tutoring offers summer programs based on academic tutoring and leadership.
GroupGear (est. 2014) offers custom apparel and accessories to organizations at Harvard and around the country. With an expansive catalog, as well as collegiate and Greek licensing, GroupGear is dedicated to serving small student clubs and national companies alike. Functionalities such as online custom stores allow individual group members to buy and pay for products online, saving GroupGear customers time and money.
DEV (est. 2017) provides comprehensive web and app development and design consulting for a variety of businesses. Recent projects include a new web app to streamline the publication process for Let's Go, a mobile physiotherapy app for a growing startup, and a complete rebranding and web redesign for a venture-capital firm.
Studio 67 (est. 2017) is an advertising agency that provides companies with millennial marketing and creative content. Recent projects include advertising campaigns on the MBTA Red Line, retail packaging designs for Clover Food Labs, rebranding for an education startup, and web redesign for a legal management system.
The Academies at Harvard (est. 2018) are intensive five-day academic enrichment programs for high-achieving high school students. The summer programs offer rigorous academic experiences on Harvard's campus, while the weekend academies have traveled to schools around the globe including in Panama City, Puerto Rico, Austin, and Minneapolis. Programs currently include business, coding, politics and pre-medical.
Campus Insights (acq. 2018) is a UI / UX testing and marketing research firm that provides insights through moderated, in-depth interviews of users and customers interacting with a company’s product. After conducting interview-based research, the CI team delivers analysis with actionable insights in addition to both raw and edited interviews. Recent projects include testing for Airbnb, market analysis for Chegg, and recurring projects for GoFundMe and VSCO.
HSA Headquarters: Burke-McCoy Hall
HSA Headquarters is located at 67 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge MA, in the former Manter Hall School building which was built in 1927. Established in 1884, Manter Hall School helped students prepare for Harvard's entrance exams during the 1930s and offered four- and eight-hour review sessions before every major Harvard mid-term and final examination. Although enrollment reached a peak of 250 in the late 1940s, by 1994 only 19 students were registered. At this time, Robert Hall, the owner of the building and manager of the school for 57 years, turned 83 and began talking to Harvard Student Agencies. Mr. Hall came to understand the unique educational opportunities HSA afforded to students and decided to sell the property to HSA in the spring of 1994.
In the summer of 1995, Robert W. McCoy (Harvard College ‘62, Harvard Business School ‘65) pledged a substantial lead gift to HSA’s capital campaign. The building was dedicated as Burke-McCoy Hall on February 5, 1997, and the dream of a permanent home for HSA was a reality. The building was named in honor of Dustin M. Burke, the first General Manager of HSA (1957-1970); Hester Bell McCoy, who joined HSA in 1961 as the company’s secretary; and Robert McCoy, Manager of Europe-by-Car, Assistant General Manager to Dusty Burke, and Let’s Go business manager upon his graduation from business school.
HSA currently occupies the top three floors and basement of Burke-McCoy Hall. Bank of America, Zambrero, and HSA Cleaners occupy the retail level of Burke-McCoy Hall. Behind the building, enough space exists to accommodate construction of a substantial annex for future expansion. A recent partnership with CS50, the introductory computer science course with one of the largest enrollments at Harvard, has opened the fourth floor to hosting office hours for students and teaching fellows to meet and congregate. This additional option was created in response to increasing demand for office hours as a result of the size of the course, as well the offer more flexible office hours to fit the wide range of schedules from students taking the class. The partnership also seeks to give students the option to pursue projects related services for students, with room for collaboration with Harvard Student Agencies beyond the one semester course.
HSA also has three locations of The Harvard Shop in Harvard Square at 52 JFK Street, 65 Mt. Auburn Street and 34 JFK Street.
Because Harvard Student Agencies employees are all students when working for the company, many of its alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in various sectors.
- Bill Ackman, investor
- Larry Cheng, co-founder and managing partner at Volition Capital
- Michael Cohrs, financier, Fellow of Cambridge University
- Michael F. Cronin, businessman, co-founder of Weston Presidio
- Chip Filson, co-founder and chairman of Callahan & Associates
- Jonathan Grayer, former chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc.
- Dame Vivian Hunt, managing partner for McKinsey & Company in the United Kingdom
- Ron Kind, Wisconsin congressman
- Oliver Koppell, New York politician
- Herminio Llevat, chairman and former CEO of Flippin' Pizza
- Ghen Maynard, television producer, former network executive, and poker player
- Glen Meakem, entrepreneur and radio host
- Caleb Merkl, co-founder and CEO of Maple
- Hadi Partovi, businessman
- Deval Patrick, politician, civil rights lawyer, former Massachusetts governor
- Ken Powell, CEO of General Mills
- Charles D. Ravenel, South Carolina politician
- Tweed Roosevelt, great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt
- Matt Salzberg, co-founder and CEO of Blue Apron
- Arthur I. Segel, professor at Harvard Business School
- Andrea Silbert, businesswoman, co-founder and former CEO of the Center for Women & Enterprise
- Tracy K. Smith, U.S. poet laureate
- Thomas G. Stemberg, businessman and venture capitalist, co-founder of Staples Inc.
- Whitney Tilson, investor
- Andrew Tobias, columnist, author, and DNC treasurer
- Catherine Turco, professor at MIT Sloan School of Management
- Rose Wang, co-founder and CEO of Chirps
- "History". Harvard Student Agencies. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "There's an Agency for That - Magazine - The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "HSA Finds Permanent Location In Square - News - The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "HSA, Let's Go Move To 67 Mt. Auburn St. - News - The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "CS50 Expands Office Hour Locations to HSA - News - The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "Larry Cheng". Volition Capital. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "I Choose Harvard: Michael F. Cronin '75, MBA '77 - Stories - Harvard Alumni". Alumni.harvard.edu. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "Archer Elected President of HSA; Perry Hails Improved Public Image - News - The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "Our History - Let's Go: The Leader in Student Travel". www.letsgo.com. Archived from the original on 2017-06-19. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "AMCHAM" (PDF). www.amcham-shanghai.org. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
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- "Governor's Mansion Not the Last Stop on Patrick's Path, Classmates Say - News - The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "Deval L. Patrick Named 2015 Commencement Speaker". Harvardmagazine.com. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "Harvard Student Agencies - News - The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
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- "Andrea Silbert - Alumni - Harvard Business School". Alumni.hbs.edu. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "Alumni Achievement Awards 2000: Thomas G. Stemberg". Hbswk.hbs.edu. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "Catherine Turco - Faculty - MIT Sloan School of Management". Mitsloan.mit.edu. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
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- HSA Cleaners (1957)
- Dorm Essentials (1957)
- Let's Go (1960)
- Harvard Bartending Course (1963)
- HSA Marketing (1975)
- Harvard Distribution (1980)
- Cronin Center for Enterprise (1981)
- The Harvard Shop (2001)
- HSA Tutoring (2006)
- GroupGear (2014)
- Studio 67 (2017)
- The Academies at Harvard (2018)
- Campus Insights (2018)