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June 2016

Should you bring your own idea to Launch?

class

Before coming to Launch, many students ask if they should be coming with or may bring in their own established idea or company. There is no correct answer to this but there are some things to keep in mind when weighing your options.

Entrepreneurship is not a Solo Sport: If you are the idea originator, it’s important to remember that your teammates at Launch are considered your co-founders which means there should be equal respect amongst everyone. It takes a collaboration across different skills and personalities to be able to start a company, and all must work in harmony and with full drive.  Success is more about the team and execution of the business than the idea.  The entrepreneurial mindset will be the most important thing you learn leaving Launch, but can only be learned when working well in a team.

Team > Idea: It’s also important to remember that while it might be your original idea, you are now working with a well-equipped team of brilliant peers with whom you need to find a common vision of success – for the summer and the company.  Ideas are a dime a dozen, with most having been thought of or even worked on before, so success comes down to execution. To execute well, you need all the skill sets of your team.  This includes market research first and foremost, with open-mindedness to feedback.  Almost ALL ideas change from their origination to actual implementation, especially in successful companies, and your teammates will be well positioned to bring a fresh perspective.  Humility and openness to feedback is key.

Continue reading “Should you bring your own idea to Launch?”

How to Get the Most Out of Mock Boards

Help is good, but see if you are really listening. Check out these tips to get the most out of mentorship engagements.

1) Don’t interrupt each other.

If you can’t handle having a conversation about your company, how can you handle running the company? It is disrespectful to your teammate and disrespectful for those trying to listen. You may think you have a better thing to say or better answer to a question, but by interrupting you have a worse answer by default. If you strongly believe that your answer is more accurate, just wait until questioning is over and pull aside the mentor to clear things up.

 

2)  Realize you will have to decide for yourself.

We’ve all been there, we give an essay to multiple people and everyone is saying something different. So whose or which advice do you go with? Learn why each person gave that advice, if one executive tells Uber to go “expand to Europe”, and the other says “focus on growth in the U.S”, Uber can’t take both pieces of advice. Instead they will continue to ask why each executive feels that way and have them back it up with numbers, do the same with your mentors.

 

3) Why you, why this, and why now?

HBS professor Lynda Applegate came to speak to Launch and discussed the elements of a great elevator pitch. Meeting with mentors is a great time to start out with your elevator pitch, the people listening need to know why you care about changing this part of the world, and why this is the way to do it.

LA

Continue reading “How to Get the Most Out of Mock Boards”

Week One Reflections

market

Now that we’ve started week two of Launch, we’ve asked our Launchies to reflect on their first week here at MIT. Read on to learn more and follow the journey with us!

 

Check in Impressions:

Q: What was going through your mind when you first got to Launch?

A: Michael W.

I arrived late, and it was amazing that people were eager to make connections, and there was such a community dynamic. It just made me so excited for the summer just from that one day.

Launch Thoughts:  During the first days at Launch there is an amazing buzz in the air. Students are so excited to be meeting their peers and potential teammates. They know that the students in the room could very well be potential business partners and not just for duration of the session.

 

Entrepreneurship:

Q: Your first class touched on the basics of entrepreneurship. What were your thoughts?

A: Varun W.

I was really impressed by guest speaker Jaylen Bledsoe. He is the same age as us but has already achieved so much.

Read more about Jaylen here: http://jaylenbledsoe.com/

Launch Thoughts: Jaylen Bledsoe is just one of the many incredible guest speakers we have here at Launch. Students are encouraged to apply the guest lecturers’ lessons into their own companies.

 

Self-Awareness:

Q: The second half of day one was about how as entrepreneurs it is important to be self-aware. What did you learn?

A:  Adhiv D.

Something I didn’t realize before was about how important the person is in regard to starting a company. It is about the kind of person we are, whether we are a hacker, a hustler, or a designer, or even a mix of all of them. I think it is cool how personal entrepreneurship is.

Launch Thoughts: Adhiv is correct in that every entrepreneur is different and by knowing our strengths and weaknesses, we can be sure to hire teams that compliment our strengths.

 

Customer Persona:

Q: On Friday we learned about market research. We were lucky enough to have Entrepreneur in Residence, Elaine Chen, tell you a bit more about what a customer persona is. What is your company’s customer persona?

A: Nakul G.

Our customer persona is an international student who is most likely a student from India. He misses the food of his home. He is a college student, and he has no meal plan, most likely a grad student. The second customer persona is a grad student who loves to cook and could cook a home cooked meal for the other student.

Launch Thoughts: Identifying your customer persona is a crucial step in developing your venture. Launch students are continuing to sharpen their market research skills in week two. 

Elaine

Closing Thoughts:

We are excited for the second week, and we’ll be updating everyone soon! Check out our Instagram to see pictures from each day of our summer adventure!

Last Minute Tips for Launch

Launch Summer is about to take flight in just a couple days. We want to touch on some last minute things about preparing for your entrepreneurial journey, exploring Boston, and making the most of this life changing experience.  We asked our alumni for their most helpful tips for you to prepare.

“Entrepreneurship won’t be the only thing you’ll learn at Launch. Be excited and take the opportunity to learn about yourself.”  (Anant Agrawal)

You might do this subconsciously, but if you really think about it, you are all coming to Launch for a reason, certainly not the same reason. Of course, it has something to do with your curiosity and expressed interest in entrepreneurship, but you were accepted for your strengths, and those include so much more than the listing of your resume items.  It includes your values, personality, and quirks – and Launch is a great place to embrace those facets.

“Understand that coming up with ideas and choosing an idea have two different approaches.”  (Lillian Chen)

It can be really tempting, especially for creative and aspiring students to chase after huge ideas and ventures. Be realistic with your goals when choosing your company idea- remember you only have 4 weeks. But during ideation phase, don’t let yourself think that an idea is too impossible or out of the box. Let your passions, problems, and interests guide you. Problems make products but passion sells the business.

Food and cooking (there was a lot of advice for this!):

  1. EAT SHAKESHACK. (Sunny Cui)
  2. Toscaninis ice cream is a must. (Trisha Kagalavadi)
  3. The lobster in Quincy Market will change your life. (Saahil Katyal)
  4. Flour Bakery is amazing for food. (Sunny Cui)
  5. Hit up Chinatown for HOTPOT. Also, Sebastians has the best crepes ever! (Lillian Chen)
  6. Insomia Cookies! (Rohan Shah)
  7. Turn on the fans when you cook. (Alex Xu)

Continue reading “Last Minute Tips for Launch”

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