Inside the Babson College Summer Venture Program—A Student’s Perspective
For 10 weeks this summer, I was a student participant in the Summer Venture Program (SVP) at Babson College. When I brought my company, Insite Motion Media, into the program, I was convinced I had a well-established, linear path to travel to continue building it successfully. What I found instead were many elements of my business plan that needed to be re-evaluated, forcing me to change my track completely and spend the next eight weeks working to right the ship.
This discovery and reassessment was replicated by nearly every team throughout the duration of the program. Between daily speakers who hit on topics relevant to all facets of business and personal mentors who helped us apply these principles directly to our specific businesses, participants learned very quickly the harsh realities of the chasm between ideas and opportunities. The result is a group of 23 savvy and fiercely critical young people who are far better poised to spot an opportunity and assess its business feasibility (my company made this video about the philosophy behind the Summer Venture Program).
Beyond the mentoring, the program provided an excellent chance to immerse myself in a community of student entrepreneurs trying to advance themselves and their businesses to the next level. All of our companies were at different stages of growth but shared the bond of being very early, mostly pre-seed. Participants represented many different industries and markets, the combination of which made for a broad spectrum of practices to analyze and learn from.
The juxtaposition of issues in one industry versus another helped create a higher level understanding of the most important elements of business practices and success across fields. Unlike classroom work and case studies, these elements were very real, being lived and addressed by our new friends across the table.
As it goes in any collegiate summer program, there was still fun to be had. Though a visitor to the program may have arrived to find Babson students aggressively hashing through the value proposition of a participant’s product and critiquing his or her pitch delivery, that same visitor could find much of this conversation being had outside by students throwing a football in shorts and flip-flops. A visitor might also find participants at lunch, telling stories and sharing laughs about events the day before. Most of the students also lived in a dorm dedicated specifically to the program, further extending the time this community had together.
While sharing in both the successful and challenging days of the program with my fellow SVP’ers, I made great friends and colleagues. Though our Demo Day on July 29th tied up loose ends and brought the program to a close, we know the ventures we currently have won’t be our last; SVP alumni will continue to look out for opportunities to help one another. All who participated in the program (see below for a few photos), whether student, staff, or mentor, have built a strong network of quality professionals that will bring personal and professional value for years to come.