Tim Harkness: Starting Over

By Robert Siegel, Jessica Morgan
2015 | Case No. E564 | Length 13 pgs.

This case profiles the journey of protagonist Tim Harkness through his many entrepreneurial pursuits.  It chronicles his early career and how a bout of serendipity landed him a job in the life sciences tools industry.  From there, Harkness went on to lead another life sciences tools company, and transformed the company from an under-performing venture-backed start-up to a profitable multi-product firm. 

After four acquisitions, a failed sales process, and filing for IPO, Harkness eventually sold the firm for a record multiple for the industry.  Shortly after the sale, the firm’s new acquirers fired Harkness.  This was devastating for Harkness, but before long he was already planning his next business venture. 

Harkness planned to have the new enterprise replicate the strategy he had employed successfully in the previous two companies he worked for.  However, after one of his investors pulled out, he struggled to find replacements for the unique business concept.  He began to question whether this was the right time to pursue this endeavor.

Learning Objective

The case highlights the ups and downs of an entrepreneurial career, from successful exits to getting fired from the firm the entrepreneur himself had built up. The teaching objective of the case is to explore the motivations and characteristics of a serial entrepreneur and how he translated a successful strategy into multiple different business contexts. Students are encouraged to challenge any pre-conceived ideas of what a serial entrepreneur should look like and evaluate the qualities they would look for in an entrepreneur as an investor.
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