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October 2016

Launch Stories: Reginald Fils, Boston

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I can vividly remember sitting in my school library talking to my teacher about what I hoped to fulfill for the upcoming summer. The weather outside was an ordinary 40 degrees, but this did not stop the conversation, it actually fueled our conversation as we yearned for the warm weather to hit our faces. I spoke about how I really wanted to be on a college campus, taking classes that pertained to business. Immediately after I said that, we googled a few programs that offered what I was looking for—the first one we found was MIT Launch.

MIT Launch encompassed all of my interests and most importantly centered itself around entrepreneurship, which I was most passionate about. I applied with no hesitations and a few months later, got an acceptance into the program. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Upon arriving at MIT, like other students, I had already started a lifestyle brand called “Urban Inspired”; the brand bears a social message which is to be inspired by all things around you. UI has been featured in fashion shows, photo shoots, and some local Boston publications. It was great to already have some insight on what it takes to run a business coming into Launch, but don’t think that this is necessary to get into this program.

A few months before launch, some friends and I decided to hold a youth event in Boston. The date fell on July 29th (during session 2). As I was at Launch, I would attend classes, do work with my team, hang out with Launch friends and then find time at the end of the night to answer emails and plan the event. This went on seamlessly as I lived in Boston and the campus was very close. However, I wouldn’t recommend that you do this, as it may take away from your Launch experience. Luckily for me I made it work without it interfering with any work or fun times with Launch friends.

Continue reading “Launch Stories: Reginald Fils, Boston”

How to Start a Maker Space

This content was written for and originally posted on the personal website of Laurie Stach.

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ProtoWorks space at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

The Makerspace Movement is playing a critical role in upgrading the education system to the modern age.  Instead of just learning from a textbook or lecture, students are able to problem solve and put their ideas into action in the physical world.  These spaces fit with concepts like Active Learning and Project Based Learning that have become popular for more modern schools.

Pioneers of the Makerspace Movement suggest that students just need the space and time to let their creativity flourish.  Students are able to create their own products or ideas through physical prototyping that can then be shared and improved upon.

What is a Maker Space?

A maker space is a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools and materials.  It’s much more than just a physical space with tools and machines, though.  A maker space builds and supports community, and accelerates learning via experimentation, making the culture and practices just as important as the machines within the walls.

Continue reading “How to Start a Maker Space”

Shining a Light on Female Entrepreneurs in Tech

This content was written for and originally posted on the personal website of Trish Cotter,  Entrepreneur in Residence at the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT.

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Last night, MIT’s Martin Trust Center hosted a screening of the award-winning documentary “She Started It” which follows five women in their journeys to launch businesses in the technology industry. We were honored to have the director and co-producer of the film, Nora Poggi , with us to introduce the film and join in our discussion along with our own panel of budding tech entrepreneurs.

The event was inspiring and featured accomplished women who beat the odds. If one message came through “loud and clear” it was that the entrepreneurial journey is all about persistence and networking. Our discussion reinforced that entrepreneurship can be taught, and that practicing entrepreneurial skills will pay off in the end.

The “She Started It” film focuses on five female entrepreneurs and their experiences, along with empowering the next generation of women tech founders. (You can check out the trailer here.) The film cited statistics about being a female entrepreneur in the technology industry that were bleaker than a cross-industry perspective. For example:

  • Women create only 3% of tech startups
  • In Silicon Valley, women earn only 49 cents to a man’s dollar
  • Women receive less than 10% of venture capital funding
  • Only 12% of undergrad computer science degrees are earned by women
  • 96% of venture capitalists are men

Yet, the five women profiled in the film are out to break the mold.

Continue reading “Shining a Light on Female Entrepreneurs in Tech”

Learn How to Scale From a Pro!

This content was written for and originally posted on the MIT Sloan School Newsroom

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Care.com co-founder Donna Levin teaches scaling entrepreneurial ventures at MIT Sloan

Care.com co-founder Donna Levin played a key part in that company’s growth, and the passion was personal. Levin’s work plans were curtailed when her son was 11 weeks old and had a seizure following a difficult pregnancy. Tests were inconclusive. Her daycare situation evaporated; she and her husband took turns staying home with the baby for three years until his health stabilized. Her husband worked nights, she worked days, and somehow they muddled through.

“Everyone has a caregiving story. At some point we will all either be a caregiver or need a caregiver,” she says.

Levin later built the infrastructure, operating systems, policies, and procedures as Care.com scaled. Today, it’s is the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care, with more than 20 million members in 18 countries.

Not every company is so lucky: half of startups fail by their fourth year, and 70 percent fail by their 10th year.

“Scaling prematurely burns cash, and it’s hard to course correct when you have hundreds of employees,” Levin says.

It’s crucial to take it slow and do it right. Levin, who teaches Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures at MIT Sloan and is an entreprepreneur in residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, explains how.

1. Grasp what “scaling” really means. Scaling your startup is all about growth. The definition Levin prefers is “accelerating growth with confidence,” meaning that the resources that you put in should yield great results that are predictable and measurable.

Continue reading “Learn How to Scale From a Pro!”

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