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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!”

Bring MIT Launch to your school!

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Guest Blogger & MIT Launch Program Coordinator, Marvin Vilma

High school students around the world have identified a lack of entrepreneurship education at their schools. Project-based learning has become a buzz term that educators use, but students want more. They want the space to create, innovate and, most importantly, solve problems. MIT Launch Clubs are providing an opportunity for students to do just that. Over the course of a year, students develop companies in teams of three to five that center around a theme. This year’s theme, for example, is Education. Students are provided a series of lesson plans that include activities, videos and discussions that guide them through the Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework. Additionally, teams have access to a strong mentor network, the staple of the Launch Clubs program. Students can reach out to many industry experts including engineers, programmers, entrepreneurs and others who have a wealth of diverse experience. They are able to leverage these relationships for feedback, advice and connections.

 

This past year, we invited nine teams to campus to participate in our final pitch event at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The teams were able to pitch in front of a group of accomplished educators, entrepreneurs and business people for feedback on their ventures. Many of the ventures from Launch Clubs plan to continue beyond the academic year, demonstrating that students are creating things that they really care about. Students who chose not to continue their ventures, however, continually express their appreciation of learning about the process to think the entrepreneurial mindset that they are building.

 

We are excited that the Launch Clubs program is growing significantly since its inception! As the initiative scales, we are happy to announce a couple new additions for students. This year, we are launching a brand new remote leadership training program for all school champions alongside the Launch Clubs program that will help develop their professional skills. We are also hosting a webinar series for all Launch Clubs participants with guest speakers from different industries. We want our community members to learn from the best! Finally, we are building out future programming for students who want to continue with our initiative for multiple years. Be on the lookout for more information soon. If you are interested in starting a Launch Club at your school, please visit http://mitlaunch.com/clubs/

Public Speaking Advice from my TEDx Talk

I recently had the honor of doing a TEDx talk.  It was a humbling, exciting, overwhelming, and exhausting experience.  I was among a panel of esteemed speakers including some previous TED global speakers, an Emmy-Award winner, a performance storyteller, and an expert in neurodevelopment.  Wow… And I had to kick off the event as the first speaker.  I’m proud of my talk, though also know how I can improve going forward, and would like to share some advice for any of you who may have the opportunity to have a public speaking engagement.
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Continue reading “Public Speaking Advice from my TEDx Talk”

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!

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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”

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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!

Why High School Students Can Start Companies

Our co-founders Laurie and Mary Winn wrote an article for Under 30 CEO about why high school students can start companies and what we can do to help.

A highlight:

“Part of the reason younger people make better entrepreneurs is because of their higher propensity towards modern technology.  Today’s students have grown up having information at their fingertips through smart phones, dancing in front of a television and gaming device that records their movements, and networking through social media sites.  Who remembers when the Nokia mobile phone, the Nintendo Super Mario games, and dial-up Internet were new and exciting innovations?  We do—but not today’s generation.  Their acceptance and understanding of cutting edge technologies makes them better positioned to push beyond what is currently possible, unconstrained by the boundaries of past realities.

Why the world’s future depends on high school entrepreneurs

Our awesome cofounders have an article featured in BostInno! Check it out here.

My favorite excerpt below:

“Business experience teaches students how to decide which facts are relevant, solve complex and innovative problems and make decisions under uncertain conditions. Beyond giving students this nebulous, but critically important skill set, we believe teaching entrepreneurship will simply create more innovators, which will contribute to economic growth.

As we think about potential talent pipelines for the next generation of innovators, we realize that high school students represent one of the biggest untapped talent pools in the world. There’s no reason they can’t start innovating now. Given their high propensity towards adaptability and creativity, we think high school students just need the right coaching and guidance to become successful entrepreneurs.”

Teaching High School Students How to Start Companies

Our founders Laurie and Mary Winn explain why Launch needs to exist in The New England Post:

“Each of us grew up, like many of us, with a narrow view of potential career paths: Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Policeman, Artist, and Business Man – this image of the person in a suit carrying a briefcase as he walked to his corner office.  Entrepreneurship was an even more foreign concept, and, still is for many high school students today.  In fact, according to a study published by INC magazine, 90% of high school teachers say their students are interested in becoming entrepreneurs, but 75% admit, ‘My students don’t know where to start to become an entrepreneur.'”

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