John Harthorne

Global / Leadership / Founder & CEO
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John Harthorne

John Harthorne is the Founder and CEO of MassChallenge. John left Bain & Company during the global economic recession in 2008 to follow his vision to foster a creative, inspired society in which everyone recognizes they can define their future, and is empowered to maximize their impact. Together with his co-founder Akhil Nigam, John launched MassChallenge as a global movement to promote a global renaissance by restoring creativity to the soul of the economy. 

John has been recognized both globally and locally for his work. The World Economic Forum elected John as a Young Global Leader in 2013, and John served as a delegate to the WEF Forum on Latin America in 2015 and to the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos in 2016. He has since been elected to the YGL Advisory Council, serves as Regional YGL Champion for New England and is also a member of the selection committee for the WEF Technology Pioneers.

John is also an alumnus of the U.S. Department of Defense’s 88th Joint Civilian Orientation Course where he met with the Secretary of Defense and participated in training with Army Special Operations. The Boston Business Journal named John one of Boston’s 50 Most Influential Business Leaders, EY selected John as the Social Entrepreneur of the Year for New England, and the Boston Chamber of Commerce identified John as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Leaders. While at MIT, John received the Patrick J. McGovern Award for Making a Significant Impact on the Quality and Visibility of Entrepreneurship; and, together with a team of classmates, he won the MIT 100K Business Plan Competition and the AT Kearney Strategy Case Competition. 

John currently sits on the Board of Directors for LabCentral in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Board of Governors for the Boston College Chief Executives Club.

John has a BA in German Literature with a minor in Chemistry from Bowdoin College, an MA in European Political Culture from the Humboldt Universität Berlin, and an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. John is married to a loving and patient wife, Natalia, and they live in Newton with their two beautiful and energetic children, Max and Yulia.


MassChallenge strengthens the global innovation ecosystem by accelerating high-potential startups across all industries, from anywhere in the world.