Harvard Innovation Lab - where great ideas come to life.


The Brief

Cooking Up Ideas in the Lab

Harvard Innovation Labs is a Boston educational institution, cheering on and encouraging entrepreneurship among students, employees, and other communities within Harvard University. It’s an incubator for current and former Harvard attendees and a platform where great ideas can get access to funding and feedback. The Harvard Innovation Lab (or Harvard i-lab) works with hundreds of student startups each year. Their innovators raise billions of dollars, represent 150 countries, and work on projects in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

When we started cooperating with Harvard Innovation Labs, they were looking for someone to update their CRM and work as an extension of their existing team. They needed a helping hand with the legacy code in the CRM – a place where they manage teams, projects, and funding given to support innovation and ideas from some of the brightest minds in the world. This system had many unique challenges and requirements that changed from one semester to the next. So, it required a custom solution, built in Rails.



Big Data, Big Business

The basic function of the Harvard i-lab CRM is easy access to data, such as the number of members and teams, basic metrics, and the status of different fundings or projects. Essentially, a central spot for all the information and updates they might need.

We took over the work on an already existing, but difficult-to-use CRM platform. As easy as it may seem, developing a platform that big, with that many details, is no small feat. Harvard i-labs CRM tracked and followed amazing projects and it had to be up to par. Most of the platform was custom-made to fulfill Harvard’s specific requirements for every team and project. The Harvard Innovation Labs platform had to be a hub, a place to keep and organize all the information about the school’s innovations network. The CRM helped them manage data about faculty, mentors, innovators, or students within this ecosystem. One of the biggest game-changers for the platform was adding data visualizations. We made it possible to oversee the vast and detailed information such as education, descriptions, interest, funding, mentors and much more. This helped everyone at Harvard i-Labs learn everything they need within just a glance. We integrated the CRM with other tools and apps, to help them draw and accumulate all the needed information from other Harvard-used platforms. This feature worked in two ways. Firstly, it helped students explore grants or scholarships and apply to relevant projects. Secondly, it aided Harvard i-labs in accelerating their reviewing process when it came to new applicants. Later on, we took over the maintenance of the platform, keeping it in top shape.



Innovation Made Easy

With Harvard Innovation Labs, we created a data-heavy platform that was quick and easy to use. The CRM we worked on for Harvard i-labs made chunks of data easily accessible and neatly organized.

Because the teams changed every semester, the need for new features emerged every few months and the roadmap was ever-changing to follow those needs.

You can only do so much to improve legacy code. Harvard i-lab was a sort of Frankenstein – made with a bunch of different parts, in a lab, but we made the best of it.

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