Stories. Reflections. Entrepreneurial Thoughts.

The Creative Process

Launch starts before students even set foot on MIT campus with some assignments to be completed prior to arrival – primarily the creative process ideation and filtering.  The best ideas are at the intersection of students interests, passions, and market trends and needs.  Activities guide students through the process of diversion of ideas, then conversion, which then gets repeated in the first few days of the program in a group setting.  While ideas are often overrated (since most good ideas have been thought of before and success typically comes down to execution / commercialization), they’re still a necessary component of a good business!


Check out this article by Launch student Josh Seides who was particularly inspired by the Creative Process and published “How to Turn Your Many Ideas Into A Million-Dollar Business”


Hitchhiker’s Guide to the…2016 MIT Launch Application (3/4)

Hello again. Hope everyone had a happy Halloween! This week we’re going to focus on a trickier bit of the application (well it’s really not that tricky–it just looks confusing): the Entrepreneurial Baseline. What do we mean by “entrepreneurial baseline”?  We have identified some key questions that will give us a good idea of what kind of entrepreneur you are, your strengths, your motivations, and your expectations for MIT Launch and that #startuplyfe.

IMPORTANT: Don’t game your answers! What I mean is – don’t answer in a particular way because you think we’re looking for particular answers. There’s not a right or wrong answer – there are all different types of potential entrepreneurs – and we want to get a better sense of your potential role within a team, aspirations for the summer, and the person behind the resume.  Just be honest – we appreciate self-awareness, open-mindedness, and willingness to learn.  Plus, this helps us get an idea of where our incoming class is starting from (the baseline) so we know how best to tailor programming to reach our common goals.

Here are some of the more confusing questions explained:

What is your main driver for wanting to be an entrepreneur?
There’s no denying it: entrepreneurship is very trendy right now, and that might be the reason you got interested in it in the first place. Or maybe you only want to work for yourself. Or build something cool.  Or leave a dent in the world. Whatever your personal reason (and there’s no wrong reason!) for becoming an entrepreneur, that will shape your priorities and your path as an entrepreneur and we want to know why so we can see what direction you’re headed in, and if admitted, help you find teammates that will share similar company missions and values.

Why are you interested in entrepreneurship? What is your primary reason for applying to Launch?
There is no wrong answer here! Your interest in Launch will motivate you in your start-up journey and we want to know what gets you excited and what makes you tick so we can make sure we meet the needs of our customers – you!

What is your biggest hurdle to entrepreneurial success?
Everyone has a hurdle/weakness/obstacle. Trust me, your biggest hurdle is not that you’re a workaholic and you just stay up too late getting work done. As counterintuitive as it seems (especially on an application) it’s important to know your own hurdles/obstacles/weaknesses because that demonstrates a certain level of self-awareness. What do you actually think is your hurdle? Identify this, and we will know what you can focus on improving throughout the program, and how to shape the program to help everyone collectively overcome their hurdles together.

Please finish this sentence: “In order for me to be happy with myself at the end of my Launch experience, I will have shown and accomplished:
Each year students come to Launch with a variety of expectations for the program and definitions of what a successful and happy Launch experience looks like. Some people just want to learn about entrepreneurship while others are looking to start the “next big thing”. Either way, be honest with your answer because we want to know what you want to get out of the program so you can get the most out of your Launch experience.

What do you do for fun?
What do you actually do for fun? You don’t need to use this answer to showcase an accomplishment. If you like cooking for fun, that’s just as valid as someone who like doing biomedical research for fun.  But really, be honest – we want to see that you have fun.  Starting a company in four weeks is intense, so knowing how to relax and have balance is important.

Basically, none of these are trick questions.  None have right or wrong answers, so long as you answer honestly.  Think of this as your opportunity to showcase YOU, the person behind the accomplishments and activities. There will be another even more exciting opportunity for this showcase in the video portion of the application, which we’ll demystify in our final guide post.  Until then, good luck!

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the…2016 MIT Launch Application (2/4)

Hello again. I hope you all have started on those applications! This week we’re done with housekeeping–let’s talk about your schoolwork and your activities.

Basic School Info: This is pretty typical, the easy stuff :)

Class Rank: Don’t sweat it. Seriously. Class rank is calculated differently at each school and we know it. Providing your class rank will not hurt your application—it just gives us a little more context to see what the student body of your school is like.

Grades/Advanced Coursework: Again, this should not be a stress point. Your admissions decision will never be based solely on your school grades or what classes you take because we know that there is a lot of variation in different schools (some offer 18 AP classes, while others might not have any!). We ask that you provide this information just to see how you are using the opportunities at your school and to see how you are challenging yourself, because at the end of the day Launch is all about being resourceful about the opportunities presented to you and challenging yourself.

Transcript Upload: Give us a copy of your transcript, which can be picked up from your school’s registrar or your counselor, or if your school uses an online grade reporting system such as Naviance, you may upload the transcript you find on there. Please DO NOT have your school mail the transcript, ONLY submit it digitally.

Activities Involvement:

NOTE: You may add up to 5 activities. This doesn’t mean that you need to fill all 5, but also means that if you have more that you need to be selective in what you share.  Pick the ones that are most meaningful to you and those that demonstrate impact.

Role: Put your current role first (if you have had other roles in the program, list them after with the years you served in that role). If you do not have a title yet you may just put “member or participant”.

Description: The word limit is a 100 word MAXIMUM. You don’t need to write a profound and emotional reflection, just describe what you did and the impact of your activity.  Including any aspect that might make it entrepreneurial or your specific contributions can be valuable, but don’t feel like you need to be super sentimental or overly philosophical about it.  Being concise is appreciated.

Entrepreneurial program experience: If you have gone to other programs, let us know what you did there! We just want to get a sense of how much background our applicants may be coming in with. Don’t worry if you have not been part of an entrepreneurial program before—many of our students come in with little to no business backgrounds.  It takes a variety of backgrounds to start a company!

If you haven’t already, start your application today!  And check out our FAQs on the Launch website.  Plus check back for the next issue where we’ll cover the Entrepreneurial Baseline section of the application.

Financial Need Scholarships


Hello future Launchies! My name is Russell Reed, and I serve as the Onboarding Coordinator at MIT Launch. I know that, among the questions you have about the application itself, many of you have another concern: paying for Launch if you are accepted. I’m going to do my best to demystify our financial aid process in this post, but if you have any further questions, please post them here and we will do our best to answer them.

First of all, admission to Launch is need blind — if you indicate you will be applying for financial aid, it will only be used to follow up appropriately when / if you are accepted. Our goal is to make Launch affordable for every accepted student, and therefore financial aid packages are curated on an individual basis with the intention of meeting all demonstrated need.

“Affordability is the last thing one should worry about when applying to MIT Launch. The program has all the resources to help you and your family afford an amazing entrepreneurial education… As we say in Launch: ‘an entrepreneur is someone who pursues an opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.’”

-Besart Copa, 2015 Alumnus

At Launch, we are dedicated to bringing together the most ambitious and driven young aspiring entrepreneurs from across the globe, and we will ensure that financing the program does not stand in your way of attending.  We have compiled information from previous sessions to provide these average financial aid offers, but remember that each package is made individually, so they may vary based on some additional factors of the admitted student and family circumstance.


“MIT Launch changed me in more ways that I could have imagined. Now I am confident in my potential and I know I have what it takes to start a company. Even though I couldn’t afford to pay for the program, it didn’t matter, because I knew there’s financial aid in place to make sure everybody who is admitted could join the program. So be one of the bold ones! Apply!

– 2015 Launch Alumnus 

Best of luck to everyone applying, and please feel free to contact us through the College Confidential post linked earlier in this post if you have any more questions!

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the…2016 MIT Launch Application (1/4)

Hello hello, Annie here :) It’s been such an exciting summer with Launch, and I can’t believe it’s already application season again! Here at MIT the campus, tours are in full swing again and every day as I pass by the Admissions Office on my way to class, I see anxious parents and their seniors crowding around, trying to glean some insight about the college admissions process. And in this way, I’m reminded everyday that while all applications are designed to be as straightforward as possible, they almost never feel that way.

That’s why I’m starting this blog series to debunk the myths and demystify the application for the coolest summer program this side of the Mississippi River—shhhh, I might be biased :) Feeling confused should never stand in the way of applying for programs that you really would like to participate in. Having “graduated” from MIT Launch myself and also having worked on the backend of things, I hope my perspectives will be helpful in understanding what the MIT Launch application is all about.

This will be a 4 part blog series and every week or so I’ll be explaining a different part of the application, so check back often as to not miss out!

Continue reading “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the…2016 MIT Launch Application (1/4)”

Lillian Chen: To Lead, To Teach, To Launch

lillian chen

When I stumbled upon entrepreneurship at MIT Launch Summer Program last year, I also discovered the superpower to change the world through my creative ideas. My experience with MIT Launch made me believe high school students could build companies.

After returning home, my excitement for growing my company was crushed by what I found back at school: my friends couldn’t connect to me when I went on passionately about marketing strategies; the school atmosphere was one geared towards science, sports, and fine arts. We had Debate Club, Environment Club, even Beyoncé Club, but no Entrepreneurship Club. Business was just something people typically didn’t believe high schoolers were interested in or could even do it.

Wanting to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship and find like minded people, I decided to start the Launch Houston Entrepreneurship Club and succeeded into tricking 12 open minded students who’ve never experienced business to join (just kidding…they joined on their own free will). Rather than pursuing my own passion for entrepreneurship, I saw the impact of sharing this knowledge with others. I heard Margaret T. challenge conventional norms with her questions. I saw Matthew F. open his shell and become one of the most eloquent, persuading public speakers I’ve ever met. I saw Anirudh S. marketing in school and Divya through neighborhoods. I saw each students put in #work; I saw teams fight, make up, tackle big dilemmas and decisions, pivot, and grow stronger together. I felt their determination to succeed. 


I’ve always loved teaching others: I tutored refugees in the summer and volunteered as a mentor for various summer camps for disabled children But it was through Launch that I really saw how I could help illuminate the talent and spark in each student. One student told me that she wanted to pursue business in the future because of Launch Houston. Another student said that Launch Houston had changed his life: now, he does not stop thinking of new ideas and wants to continue growing his company. Although I thought I knew why I started Launch Houston, my club members were the ones who showed me why I fell in love with teaching entrepreneurship.

Last year, my Launch group had three teams, two of which became finalists at the MIT Launch Pitch Competition (more than 60 teams worldwide competed and only the top ten became finalists). MoGo, a company that teaches children how to manage money, received 4th place; my team’s company LocaFoods, a company that provides an online platform that connects local farmers to schools, restaurants, and homes, won 1st! Both companies continue to grow to this day.


This year, Launch Houston has more than tripled in size, expanding to 38 members. While managing this many people is difficult, I’ve learned some lessons for last year’s session that will help me effectively run this club: Continue reading “Lillian Chen: To Lead, To Teach, To Launch”

Trisha Kagalavadi: The Reciprocity Ring


Launch is much more than a group of students working tirelessly to create their companies: it’s a community. The power of the Launch community is an invaluable network comprised of people with a variety of different skills, resources, and knowledge. I began to see the power of the network when we created the Reciprocity Ring.

Everyone wrote down an obstacle they were facing on a blue post-it note, then we arranged all of the notes on the wall in a circle. Together, we brainstormed possible solutions to these obstacles, and wrote down ways we could help each other on yellow post-it notes. It really showed how everyone at Launch has an abundance of talents, and regardless of whether someone was facing a technology or design obstacle, there was always another Launchie who could help out! After we thought about ways to help each other, we drew lines connecting the obstacle we were facing, to the one we were able to help out with.

reciprocity     reciprocity2

Launch provides you with access to amazing resources, connections, and people, all at your fingertips. This activity allowed us to help each other reach our goals and illuminated the importance of the Launch family. As a family, we helped each other, laughed a lot, and argued a little bit, but at the end of the day, we were always there for each other. Even in the midst of AP classes, and SAT prep, I still talk to the friends I made at Launch everyday, and the connections I made have continued to thrive, long after the four weeks ended!

Will starting a company get me into college?

Running an entrepreneurship program for high school students at MIT, I have faced this question either directly or indirectly from both applicants and students of MIT Launch. Applicants want to know if attending will give them a better chance of getting into MIT, while program alumni are assessing how much of their time to balance on different aspects of college applications versus continuing their companies.

In light of this question, I’ve spent some time gathering input from admissions directors, in addition to using my own experience reviewing applications, to provide an answer.

The short answer:  No.

Getting into college or putting “Founder” on your resume shouldn’t be a factor in deciding whether or not to start a company.

But what DO admissions committees care about?

And what ARE the reasons to start (or continue) a company?

(And do these two overlap?  Spoiler alert: they do!)

What Admissions Care About…


Continue reading “Will starting a company get me into college?”

Brian Coombs: Mens et Manus at MIT


Launch just ended, but the memories refuse to fade.  My most prominent memories stem from the challenging learning experience of designing and implementing our hardware product. I co-founded Vintage Vitality, a health wearable company dedicated to connecting ailing loved ones to their family and keeping them safe.

Heading into the development phase, my group was worried about our lack of experience in prototyping, particularly electrical hardware. I became team lead for product development, but my experience was limited to architectural CAD (computer aided design), and I had never done any electrical engineering before. Luckily resources abound at Launch. I was assisted personally by MIT professors and students:

  • Marty Culpepper, MIT Maker Czar and Mechanical Engineering professor, scheduled times with all the hardware teams, and advised us on silicone molding and potential difficulties inherent in the manufacturing phase.
  • Entrepreneurs at the Global Founders Skills Accelerator plus EIRs (Entrepreneurs in Residence) and other staff at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship provided assistance with anything from wiring to 1-on-1 learning about Arduino to 3D printing.


There was never a dull step along the way. Within the Trust Center’s Protoworks, every tool was specific to what small companies like us needed to bring our ideas onto the workbench of reality.


Continue reading “Brian Coombs: Mens et Manus at MIT”

Aakanksha Saxena: From Vision to Reality


When I first applied to Launch, I vaguely understood that I would be learning about creating a company. Surely, I would learn the ins and outs of marketing, public speaking, and working effectively with a team. Launch, however, offers so much more. While Launch did help me develop these skills, Launch’s wide array of resources drastically expanded my technical skill set in a way I had not perceived possible. In less than four weeks, my team was able to make a fully functional hardware prototype and compatible iOS application. Equipped with cutting-edge hardware prototyping technology and inspirational mentors, students truly do have the power to launch their vision into reality.


Aakanksha was a part of team Ecomyst, developing a technology that syncs consumers’ sprinkler systems to their phones. By integrating local databases concerning external factors such as temperature, wind pressure, and humidity, the users’ mobiles manages sprinkler output to optimize plant health and water usage. This technology has the potential to annually save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and can significantly cut water bills.

In Focus: PurchaseMate

purchasemate team

Hi, we’re PurchaseMate and we’re here to help you be a more conscious and effective shopper.

purchasemate icon

PurchaseMate is a social impact data company, working to educate both shoppers and corporations on the products that they stock, ship, and buy. We work through a user base of socially responsible shoppers; people who are looking to vote with their wallet.

Continue reading “In Focus: PurchaseMate”

Lauren Yang: So Much More

Lauren70 incredibly intelligent students, four weeks, one unforgettable experience: MIT Launch. When I first found out that I had been accepted into MIT Launch, a four week summer entrepreneurship program, I was excited to not only to be learning about entrepreneurship but also to be meeting like minded peers. Little did I know that this program would provide so much more. Throughout the four weeks at Launch, I have learned a myriad of lessons. The entrepreneurship panels, engaging lectures, and market simulation activities have exposed me to everything from how to conduct primary market research to defining an MVP. From my mentors and teachers, I’ve absorbed tidbits of advice, like “perfect is the enemy of done” and “don’t drop out of college”. Launch has helped me develop my skills as an entrepreneur, as a teammate, and as an individual.


The uniquely quirky culture at Launch is also something that is key to the program. Living with 70 other makers, comedians, hackers, fearless risk takers, scientists, artists, innovators, and everything in between has given me the opportunity to learn from some of the most talented students in their respective fields.


One of my favorite memories was when my peers and I were on a duck boat tour. By the end of the trip, everybody on the boat had chanted songs, laughed, and taken pictures together. At that point, Launch no longer felt like a summer program; it became an experience that I’d never forget. By the end of four weeks, we were no longer just 70 talented individuals, we were a family and a community that had pushed each other to accomplish what we never imagined we could. thumb_DSC_6988_1024Perhaps on the surface it seems that Launch is just 4 weeks, just 70 students, just a summer program. But it’s also where people truly believe in the capability of high school students to do so much more, and that is exactly why Launch IS so much more.

In Focus: Bites

Hello! We’re Bites and we’re on a mission to make sure you never miss a home-cooked meal again!


Bites connects hungry students to chefs in college campuses to sell home cooked meals to each other. Through a mobile app platform, Bites creates a marketplace where chefs sell meals with ease to students to pick up near them.


Ishani Thakur: Chief Technology Officer

Xavier Rivera: Chief Marketing Officer

Cao Andong: Chief Design Officer

Jack Zeiders: Chief Finance Officer

Experience: For us, one of the greatest lessons Launch gave us was how to live and breath your business. With Bites, we decided that testing the viability of our concept was crucial for us to see if making this company was worth it or not. Throughout our time at MIT, we ran multiple MVP’s that required so much coordination and demanded so much of our attention that we found ourselves working on the Bites Beta tests all the time outside of our team’s working hours. This showed us what it takes to bring a pretty concept to rugged reality. People questioned every facet of our freshly made business decisions relentlessly as they were beta testers. In our classes, we seemed to have an answer for every question our teacher asked us regarding our company, but Launch taught us that in concept, there is always the right answer, but in practice, when you’ve launched (and are generating revenue) that is when the most valuable lessons are learned.


Future: Going forward, we’re launching Bites in our team’s local universities. We also plan on starting Bites in new apartment developments where Bites can really spark a food sharing community. We would love to come back to MIT Launch and work as interns next year because it would be the perfect way for us to pass on our lessons from Launch to the next batch of amazing entrepreneurs next year just as this year’s interns generously shared their insights with us. For the future, we hope that Bites will spread to new communities and that we are able to get as much feedback as possible to continue growing and developing the company.

In Focus: Dropwise


Hi! We’re the Dropwise team, and we’re here to connect you to your water usage in a smarter, more effective way.


Dropwise uses modernized technology to connect homeowners to their water usage in a smarter, more effective way to encourage smart water conservation. Our device clips easily onto water meters and transmits real-time water usage data to a smartphone app, where users can track and understand their water usage throughout the day. By providing homeowners with the tools to easily monitor and act on their water usage, we can help them both reduce their water bill costs and save the environment.

Continue reading “In Focus: Dropwise”

Ayden Howle: A Home Away from Home


Walking through those large transparent doors, I already knew was entering my new home: a place where we are all family, where we are welcome. Here at Launch, valuable speakers from across the world present our lessons, creating this wonderfully powerful learning environment. While brainstorming and pitching, other teams always are willing to help and give advice. Here at Launch, innovation is driven by collaboration, rather than competition. Since I entered the program, I already made lifelong friends, both with members of my team and with everyone within Launch. The people at Launch are unlike any group I’ve met. Everyone is unique, with different passions and skills. In less than five minutes, Launchies immediately connect. When I came to Launch, everyone accepted me for who I was. All the life skills we learn in the classroom can be implemented socially. I really feel that we embrace each other’s differences and we are careful to not make quick assumptions.

Continue reading “Ayden Howle: A Home Away from Home”

Two Mini-Businesses In Two Days

It’s been just two days and each group of our students has already started not just one, but two mini businesses! A market simulation and app simulation gave students the necessary tools and skills to conduct market research, come up with a MVP through prototyping and receive customer feedback.



Continue reading “Two Mini-Businesses In Two Days”

Marshmallow Challenge

Marshmallows were first invented as throat medicine in Ancient Egypt and in Ancient Rome gladiators rubbed the marshmallow plant’s sap into their bodies in preparation for the challenges. Here at MIT Launch, our students use it in an even more creative way.


Continue reading “Marshmallow Challenge”

You Get Only One “First Day of Launch”

There is nothing more exciting than the beginning of something new. New ideas, new phase of life, new friendships, new careers…

Today we welcomed 70 brilliant self-starters from around the world to Session 2 of our MIT Launch summer program. This is the beginning of an amazing entrepreneurial journey for both our fearless students and us here at MIT Launch! Who knows what new challenges they will solve? How many heights they we conquer? How many exciting new connections they we make?


Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and a passionate MIT Launch program advisor joined us for the welcome lunch. “Entrepreneurship is a mindset and a skillset”, he said to the students today, “In order to be taught, it just requires an environment in which you can do that. You have to get the spirit and the skills.”


In just four weeks from today, teams will have formed and executed on their business ideas, which for many of them include coming up with a revenue model, prototyping a beta version of their app, product, or service, plus putting together a full business pitch. However, Launch isn’t all work and no play. Students embarked on a mad dash across campus, collecting “selfies” with iconic MIT buildings and completing fun challenges as part of an MIT themed scavenger hunt.


We are looking forward for the upcoming session: challenges are exciting! We’ll finish today’s post with words of Annie Zhang, our Marketing Coordinator who spoke to the class today: “I encourage you to grow, I encourage you to jump off the metaphorical cliff and to do something that scares you a little bit, every single day.”


Good luck Session 2 of 2015!
We’ll keep you posted on all the exciting things that will be happening here!

In Focus: Paul Stoltz

This week MIT Launch we were lucky to have Dr. Paul Stoltz teach a class on the importance and application of grit and resilience. He has spent over 30 years researching and trying to decode the element that sets the best entrepreneurs apart from the rest. The results? It turns out that the secret to entrepreneurial accomplishment is grit and the ability to turn adversity into an advantage. For a great way to kick off the week, Stoltz taught the students how grit can help them follow through and really execute a plan in order to turn something good into something really great. Through his riveting stories, he demonstrated that sometimes when things go really wrong, it is possible to respond to the advertises in order to achieve a much better outcome. He also shed light on the most important aspects of building a team and how to improve yourself as a better, more respected leader. Here is just a peek at some these important lessons:

Paul 2 Continue reading “In Focus: Paul Stoltz”

In Focus: MIT Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator (GFSA)

In addition to classes and team activities, students at Launch also get the chance to meet and learn from other young entrepreneurs. This week, MIT Launch was honored to have 5 entrepreneurs from MIT’s Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator (GFSA) come to the class to speak on their experiences of the early stages of founding their companies. The MIT Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator is MIT’s student venture accelerator which takes the best teams with an interesting idea or proof of concept focused on creating impactful, innovation-driven startups. Out of hundreds of applications, only 14 teams are selected each summer to participate in GFSA, and they spend 3 months building the right product and securing initial customers/partners.

A Closer Look At The Speakers:


Gavin Cotter from R&R:
R&R is creating a new controller for consumer drones that allows the operator to simultaneously control the drone, and the video camera, all in one easy to understand, and intuitive to use controller. Their target market is the burgeoning prosumer videographer market that cares more about the art and videography than the novelty of flying drones.

Kale Continue reading “In Focus: MIT Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator (GFSA)”

Countdown to Launch: T-Minus 24 Hours

Here at MIT Launch we’ve been working hard, and we’re just about ready to launch! From expanding the executive team and intern team, to streamlining the curriculum and student support systems, we’ve been making lots of improvements and are excited to be sharing them with you all! We can’t wait to meet all the Session 1 students tomorrow!

Here’s a sneak peek of our preparation for move-in day tomorrow:




Pallavi Deshpande: Meeting Peers and Facing Fears

Imagine a summer program where there are people from all around the world, life-changing experiences and memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your life and be given a platform to improve yourself in an international environment. That is Launch in a nutshell! Launch has been a fantastic mix of making friends, exploring my passions and having the courage to voice my opinions and beliefs with renewed confidence.


From all the engaging classes and talks from eminent and established entrepreneurs to exciting and fun activities, Launch had it all. It forced us to understand our true interests and passions which in turn helped me understand myself better and gave my the confidence to talk about my passions or ideas with revitalized fervor. At Launch we leaned to be uncomfortable, to be original and to be a “painkiller” not a “vitamin”. It’s only a 4-week program, but it feels like we’ve learned more to apply to our lives than any school course could teach us in a year.

Coming from across the globe (literally), I was anxious as to whether or not I would be able to fit in with the group of students attending Launch. The culture shock was evident but the warmth and openness of the faculty and students helped my ease into the program. It was my first time visiting Boston but due to Launch’s impeccable efforts to make you feel at home, you’ll be surprised as to how quickly a month can pass by leaving you pining for more!


On my first day at Launch, with an incredible level of anxiety, I started talking to people. What if I would be stuck doing something that I really hate? Or even worse, what if I miss home too much and mess up my stay? Mustering my courage and confidence I began to go up to people with a pounding heart and started talking to them. “Hi, my name is Pallavi, I am…” and I am fairly certain that I messed up with the first couple of people that I talked to. However, it got a little easier as I continued to talk to others. I was surprised by how comfortable everyone seemed to be and how open they were. This made me want to be more confident and I forced myself to stick around and talk to people, understand their interest and delve into intellectually stimulating conversations with everyone there!

But by the end of program, Launch motivated me to be more creative every day, to focus more on innovative solutions to problems, and most importantly, to learn to be flexible, to ADAPT.


Jacob Johnston: How to Keep the Fire Going

Hey everyone! My name is Jacob Johnston and I am the CMO and Co-Founder of, a company dedicated to getting high school students connected with summer opportunities. As this year’s MIT Launch sessions are getting ready to start, I wanted to share a few thoughts on my experience during and after Launch:

When I was accepted into Launch I was ecstatic and at first I didn’t know what to think besides “How the heck did I get chosen for something so amazing?”. The feelings I had going into the program were really mixed: I was nervous, excited, and curious all at the same time to meet my fellow classmates and be on MIT’s campus. When I stepped foot into Simmons (the dorm we were housed in) I was welcomed warmly by the director and staff and felt like part of the family right away.

Within the next few days we hit the ground running, met our fellow Launchies, and got to creating the ideas that would later form into our companies. During the ideation process, my team and I made sure that we chose an idea that would be able to continue after the program ended and that it was something that we would all be interested in. It turned out that for us the most important thing was finding something the whole team was passionate about because if someone is not interested in the idea, they most likely will not put in their full effort and determination. Although coming up with the idea of took us multiple idea changes, a lot of pivoting our focus, and a substantial amount of time, in the end it all paid off because it was an idea we all wanted to continue working with even after Launch.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 4.18.49 PM

Even though we all really wanted to continue what we had started at Launch, we had to figure out how to realistically make it work. Two members of our team lived fairly close to each other in Massachusetts, but I lived in Arkansas and Chris lived in New York, which would make it very difficult for us to meet coordinate all our work. So, I started researching a little on things we could use to communicate a little better after we left Boston. Sure there’s Skype and Google hangouts, but we needed something a lot more organized and professional. I came across Slack, a web platform that allows startups to create chat channels, organize files, and integrate specific programming modules to allow team members to see progress updates. It was perfect for us, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who plans to continue working with their team (especially if you live in different places). With communication being the biggest barrier to success with geographically distanced team members, we scheduled  to have weekly meetings to keep each other updated on what we were doing. This worked really well and allowed us to stay in touch and make sure that we were meeting the goals that we had set for ourselves.

As the excitement slowly started to dwindle down after Launch, my team looked for something more structured that we could do to further our business. YCombinator? Another Accelerator? Business competitions? Eventually we stumbled upon Catapult; a business incubator for startups with a location in Boston. We applied, had an interview, and were accepted to the program all within a short few months after Launch. This was a huge deal for us because it was what we needed to keep the fire going. Putting our team back into a program with structure where we could all meet and work together was exactly what helped us propel our efforts.

Best Social Impact on Catapult Demo Day!

Continuing the company after Launch is going to be hard. You’re going to have to get past the communication barrier and tackle problems as a team. Get organized, set goals, have meetings, and do something structured if you feel like you need it. On Launch pitch day, our team placed 5th, but we were also one of the only teams to continue our company after the program and at the end of Catapult, we won Best Social Impact on Catapult Demo Day.

Moral of the story is: what you create at Launch doesn’t have to end at the end of Launch. Do your best and if you still are passionate about the idea, keep tackling it! It might turn out even better than you expected!

Introducing Simmons: Commons, Culture, and Location

This is the second part of a two-part introduction to Simmons Hall. Please check out our last blog post for more information on Architecture, Rooms, and Resources.

Simmons Hall logo

On every floor there are at least a couple of common rooms and meeting rooms. Common rooms are usually carpeted and furnished with couches and beanbag chairs and a TV. These are typically areas to play music or hold a Super Smash Bros tournament. Common rooms are also equipped with board games and the larger common rooms/lobbies on the first floor even have building blocks and foosball tables (see Culture).


Meeting rooms are usually closed off by a glass wall and contain large conference-type desks. Meetings rooms are often where teams choose to work because they are conveniently scattered throughout the dorm, while still remaining separate enough and quiet enough to concentrate and be highly productive.

As mentioned before, Simmons is a quirky cool dorm with a lot of personality. As soon as you enter the building, you’ll notice a small pond with tiny rubber duckies bobbing around, and on the walls you may notice posters with references to velociraptors. These two are the unofficial “mascots” of Simmons and you’ll find signs of them scattered around the building.

rubber ducks

Simmons culture also comes from the unique architecture. The undulating concrete walls are actually similar chalkboard material, and you’ll see that people draw all over the walls with colorful chalk. Furthermore, in the front lobby, there are piles of wooden building blocks, and in the commons rooms there are plenty of board games. If you didn’t get the chance to doodle on the walls and build dangerously high Jenga towers as a kid, this is your chance :)

The MIT campus is a long triangle that flanks the Charles river, and Simmons is located at the west end of this triangular layout. Directly across the river from Simmons is Boston University, and just a little further down Massachusetts Avenue is Harvard University.


Simmons is just about on the opposite side of campus to the MIT Sloan School of Management, where classes will be held. Fortunately, the MIT campus shuttle stops right in front of Simmons and will drive all the way to Sloan. If you want to enjoy a morning walk to class, you can walk along the river for about 20 minutes to reach Sloan.

Located much closer are the Student Center, the Z-Center, and other athletic fields. Some athletic fields are right outside of Simmons while the Student Center and the Z-Center are about 8-10 minutes of a walk from Simmons.

Introducing Simmons: Architecture, Rooms, and Resources

SimmonsSimmons Hall might be one of the most recognizable buildings on the MIT campus (other than the Great Dome and the Stata Center). Famous for it’s architecture and culture, Simmons is definitely one of the most exciting dorms to live in and explore. In fact, architects from all over come to study Simmons, and some even try to sneak in to get an inside peek into this fascinating building! I’ll break down the tips and tricks of Simmons hall into 6 categories (Architecture, Rooms, Resources, Commons, Culture, and Location) and today I’ll be covering the first 3.

Simmons is generally referred to as “The Sponge” by MIT students because–well, it really does resemble a sponge. There are many rows of small windows on each floor (it’s almost like having a grid of pixels) which makes it very convenient for spelling out words and shapes by lighting up certain rooms. The quirky architecture only gets weirder from the inside. The whole building is made of concrete, and many of the walls are not straight, and will have large, intentional undulations in them. There are also 3 towers in Simmons, and elevators service each tower. However, because of the arrangement of the towers, it’s often necessary to switch elevators multiple times to get from one tower to another. The architecture is quite confusing, but don’t worry–there are maps in every single elevator that will explain how to travel within the building.

Launch students will be living in doubles (rooms with 2 beds) inside Simmons. These rooms are generally pretty spacious and come with a full set of furniture for each student: extra-long twin bed, bookshelf, desk and chair, a set of drawers, a wastebasket and a simple wardrobe. True to Simmons spirit, all the furniture is modular. Yes, you read that right! You can arrange your furniture creatively to achieve a loft-bed layout, or just adjust your bed and desk height by using the sets of drawers to add height where needed.IMG_3434

There are a lot of windows in each room for really great natural lighting, and the rooms also have ceiling lights, so desk lamps really aren’t necessary. All the rooms have tile flooring, which makes it easy to keep the rooms clean, but some students may choose to bring small throw rugs to make the space more cozy.

Most importantly, there are bathrooms for at least every three rooms. Some rooms will have private bathrooms inside the room–lucky you if you get one of these! Other rooms are arranged so that usually two (or occasionally three) rooms will share a bathroom.

Laundry rooms are located every few floors. As of 2014 it cost $1.00 per washing load, and $0.75 per dryer load and both machines accept quarters. Detergent may be left over from the semester, but your best bet will be to bring a few detergent tablets/pods.

During the school year, Simmons residents subscribe to the mandatory meal plan so there are no real kitchens in Simmons. However, there is a small kitchenette on one of the floors equipped with a sink, a hot plate, a few plates, a microwave, and a communal refrigerator. If you do buy food, make sure you label it with your name or else you may not see your food again! This kitchenette is pretty much only good for heating up leftovers, because it is nearly impossible to actually cook with such a limited kitchen.

The MIT app is available for both iOS and Android devices, and will show a campus map, shuttle maps and locations, and other vital MIT campus information. Download the MIT app and you will never get lost going to and from Simmons!

Lastly and probably most importantly, MIT wifi is campus-wide, free, and super fast. No more buffering when you’re trying to stream Netflix!

An introduction of Simmons commons, culture, and location can be found here!

Annie Zhang: Countdown to Launch


I always get a little restless as April turns into May–maybe it’s because the weather is getting warmer or because semester-end projects are due soon. My best friend even teases that I have an incurable case of “itchy feet” and I guess it’s true. This year I’ve been more restless than ever because the countdown to Launch has begun.

Anxious, excited, intimidated, hopeful. Although this is the second time I’m counting down to Launch, I still clearly remember what it felt like the first time around. From the moment I joined the student facebook group, to the moment I set foot in Simmons Hall, it was already terrifyingly clear to me that the month ahead of me would be like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Everyone seemed to be so accomplished and so smart. Not to mention, the curriculum was completely foreign to me. It felt like everyone was ready to hit the ground running while I was just learning to crawl. In hindsight, this was a blessing. Little did I know then that I was surrounded by 43 of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Little did I know that these were the people that would push me to grow. Little did I know that they would be the support system that would ceaselessly lift me up, even a year after Launch.

If you're the smartest

A year later, most of my peers and I can now joke about how we were all equally nervous at the beginning of Launch. I mean, when you put that many creative and determined minds in the same room and tell them that they have a month to bring their visions to life, it’s overwhelming to say the least. However, I’ve come to learn that at the end of the day it’s okay to be nervous or even to have absolutely no idea what’s going on. What matters is how you choose to react to the countless opportunities that will present themselves:

  1. Be as prepared as possible. Going into Launch having done the pre-work and brainstorming is like having a life raft after being thrown into an ocean. You’ll thank yourself later for taking the time to work through each step. And who knows? You might even be bringing the winning idea with you to Launch!
  2. Proactively connect with people. Launch is one of those communities where diverse, talented and passionate people make an effort to really learn from each other and grow together. It’s not just the students either, being at MIT (the crossroads of the world) gives you the chance to seek out some of the most interesting and people and thoughts you’ll come across.
  3. Approach everything with an open mind and open heart. Sometimes things don’t go the way you had them played out in your head. Learning to be an entrepreneur is about rolling with the punches and always springing back. Never be too stubborn to try something new.

Even though this is my second time around, pre-Launch still feels like a rollercoaster as it slowly rattles and rumbles to the top. You can feel it coming, but you don’t yet know how fast or far the drop will be. You don’t yet know how many loops there are, or if you’ll be flipped upside down. All you can do is throw your hands up and start to count down. T-minus 35 days.

Jennifer Tran: Discovering CIC and Venture Café

Cambridge is buzzing with amazing learning opportunities outside of the Launch classroom. Last summer when my friends and I weren’t in class or hard at work on our companies, we scoured the city for new experiences and entrepreneurial activities. Some of my favorite finds were the Cambridge Innovation Center and the Venture Café.

The Cambridge Innovation Center, or CIC, was a hub of activity that housed over 600 startups. The brief descriptions on door plaques displayed the wide variety of ventures being explored at the CIC. As I observed entrepreneurs from all of the startups meet in communal break rooms to exchange ideas and collaborate, I imagined that someday my team’s startup would have an office at the CIC surrounded by innovators and creators with the same passion for their work.

Venture Cafe

Russell, my teammate, and I also made trips to the Venture Cafe in search of valuable advice and exciting connections. Venture Café is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building communities of innovators and entrepreneurs, and every Thursday evening the space lights up with networking opportunities and entrepreneurial advice. Everyone from angel investors to designers to scientists meet to make business deals and personal connections. The times that we visited, the energy and excitement of the room was palpable. We conversed and tested different pitches for our company, the Bridge Initiative. We gained tips and ideas to grow not only our businesses but also ourselves as entrepreneurs.  As the night progressed we became much more confident in approaching people and asking questions about our companies and the business path. Everyone from the fledgling entrepreneurs to the seasoned investors showed an amazing amount of passion and excitement for everything they spoke of. We heard from so many diverse minds: from a solar energy engineer who explained the mechanics of a solar panel and the future of alternative energy to a restaurateur who detailed the process of turning a brick and mortar operation into a sleek app-based service.

Visiting the CIC and the Venture Café were only a few of the amazing opportunities for learning and inspiration.  They were a great opportunity for team bonding and being able to connect to the vibrant startup community sparked creativity in the toughest parts of launching our startup.

Launch Weekends – Success!

The first Launch Weekends event was held at MIT on March 22 with great success – students learned why high school students are at an ideal age to start companies, learned valuable tools to focus their startups, and practiced the creative process of coming up with ideas, filtering them based on what investors look for, and pitched their ideas.

The impact – students reported an increased confidence in both their skill set and mindset required to start a company, and believe more strongly that they will start a company sooner.  We can’t wait to see your ideas come to life!

The next Launch Weekends event will be held at Northwestern in Chicago –



Launch Weekends

Launch is proud to announce that we are now promoting entrepreneurship for high school students through weekend crash courses – Launch Weekends.  Check out the website to learn more and sign up for our upcoming weekend in Boston on March 22.

The Launch logo

The Launch logo is “iconic”!

Check out this expert advice for designing / choosing your logo, featuring the Launch logo as the example for an iconic logo:


GreatPreneurs Interview with Launch Founder Laurie Stach

Founder Laurie Stach explains in a GreatPreneurs interview article the idea behind the Launch Program:

“Launch was born from the idea that high school students have enormous untapped potential and that the current education system isn’t preparing students well enough for the real world. We’re teaching students that there’s one right answer to a question that will be given to them in life, when that’s not the way things really work. Coming up with the question is as important as the answer – you need to be resourceful, adaptable, and innovative – and what better way to learn these skills than through starting a real company. Hence, the Launch Program was born.”

The article also includes a discussion of the encouragement of young students to pursue entrepreneurship, whether entrepreneurs are born or made, and the MIT experience.  See the article for more!

Rahul Agarwal: The Skyline

Past the horizon, I can see the expanse of opportunities,

Waiting, wishing for me to emerge,

Not as someone molded for society,

But as myself,

Ready to embrace change,

Ready to make a difference.

-Excerpt from “The Skyline”, by Rahul Agarwal

I wrote this piece of prose when I was at Launch this summer. I was inspired not only by the Skyline of Boston, but by the amazing individuals I was with. They really changed my perspective to one that ensures that I follow what I am passionate about. They have changed my outlook to show me life shouldn’t be about the money, but about caring about a cause or doing something you find important. They have shown me that the people you surround yourself with are really what make life so special and unique.

Continue reading “Rahul Agarwal: The Skyline”

Parent Feedback

Launch:  Great program. Our son learned more  about business and entrepreneurship in just the 4 short weeks of Launch than I did in 4 years of undergraduate business school and 2 years of graduate school. The program has given John a real sense of “can do” realization that he can build a viable business. Laurie and the whole Launch team were simply amazing!

– Bob Peurifoy, parent of John Peurifoy

Samantha Burns: Launching Passions and Friendships

Launch demonstrated that in the entrepreneurial realm, being passionate is one of the greatest assets. From love grows the best businesses and the strongest friendships.

– Samantha Burns, co-founder and CEO of Unbounded Travel

If you were presented with 29 new best friends tomorrow, what would they be like? Would they be from your same town? Be interested in the same things you are? At Launch last summer I was given this very opportunity, but these 29 friends were from all corners of the world.  Among them were master computer programmers, insomniac bakers, Indian classical dancers, and soccer gurus. We were so extraordinarily different, but the bonds we formed were founded on the fact that we are all passionate. It didn’t matter what fueled our passion– for me, it was going to night lectures on genomic research at the Broad Institute, for another friend, it was playing tennis on the MIT courts after class. The defining element of Launch students is that we are not afraid to love something.

Continue reading “Samantha Burns: Launching Passions and Friendships”

Jill Klinvex: Unique Opportunity at MIT

One of our amazing Summer 2013 students, Jill, spoke to her school paper about her experience at Launch. Read an excerpt below and the full article at The Echolier.

“While at MIT, Klinvex was able to make contact with other people on their way to success. “The people there were incredibly intelligent, with incredibly high ACT scores. One guy was an intern at Google before participating in Launch. My head instructor actually designed for BMW… It was great,” says Klinvex. 

[The program] was completely life-changing,” Klinvex affirms. “I would recommend it for anyone. It really does broaden one’s horizons.” Her experience at MIT stands as an example for other young people who desire to go beyond just daydreaming and to have meaningful adventures.

Didomi screenshot

Jill and her teammates worked on Didomi, an app designed to improve the donation process for nonprofits and donors alike. To keep updated on their progress, visit their site.

“We’re all in good hands”

One of our wonderful and enthusiastic entrepreneur mentors reflects on his experience working with Launch students at his site here.

Panos Panay

The way I see it is this: entrepreneurship, like any other creative discipline (music, art, dance etc.) needs practice, early exposure to influences and experiences, and should be embraced as something both fun and expressive from an early age. The earlier this starts the better — these early experiences, like becoming comfortable with a musical instrument or swinging a tennis racket, fine-tune and develop instincts that serve would-be business-launchers well down the road.”

Panos Panay is the founder of SonicBids, which connects bands with music promoters to the tune of 750,000 gigs since its creation.

Student Feedback

Launch made me realize my true passion in life. I’ve never really found classes at school too interesting. But Launch was so amazing. I don’t want to do anything else but business. It also made me realize the possibilities and abilities I have and should take advantage of. It makes me want to reach and go further and do more.

Student Feedback

Launch was probably the most self-fulfilling, empowering experience that I have ever gone through. I can honestly say that I have changed as a person from the last few weeks and I have no regrets. It was incredibly difficult to leave, because I knew I had grown so much and met some of the greatest people in the world. I was able to look inside myself so much throughout the program, and the process of looking within myself and learning more about who I am made it all worth it.

Goodbye to MIT and our beautiful dorm

Sadly, today is the last day of Launch.  That means goodbye to our classroom, goodbye to MIT campus and the beautiful Maseeh Hall dorms that have been our home for the last four weeks, and goodbye to the amazing friends that everyone made.  But just for now – everyone plans to stay in touch!


Although we don’t think the parents of Launch students will ever truly be able to understand the magic of what happened here this summer, we tried to give them a taste of it on the last day of classes by inviting them to their own private class session.  They performed one of the simulations and walked through a few of the early activities, laughing and questioning and engaging in the same way their kids had done just four weeks earlier.

Among these activities is the “Real Deal”, from one of our strategic partners, Peak Learning.  This tool allows you to select the most important motivating factors to you from a deck of cards, which can then be a powerful foundation for a discussion with your team about how to work with one another.

We hope the parents have a bit better understanding now of their kids’ transformational summer.


Create a free website or blog at | The Baskerville Theme.

Up ↑


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers