Student? Entrepreneur? I Choose Both

9/13/12Follow @andreakippolito

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inbound marketing; Paul English, CTO of Kayak, explained how he identifies and retains startup talent; and David Skok, General Partner at Matrix Partners, explained us how to determine the cost of obtaining a customer.

We were armed with 24 entrepreneurial steps developed by Bill Aulet that forced us to re-think our idea and think strategically about which markets to tackle first. All in all, the focus of the summer was GSD (Get Stuff Done), but we took away a lot more than just execution. The FSA actually taught us all the skills we needed to pursue ventures now or in the future. Startups have tremendously high failure rates, yet my teammates and I now feel like we have acquired the fundamental skills necessary to not only move forward with this startup, but also develop any startup ideas we may have in the future.

The work of the summer culminated in the inaugural FSA demo day this past Saturday at Walker Memorial in front of a crowd of 400 students, entrepreneurs, and investors. The event opened with a surprise visit from Drew Houston, Founder and CEO of Dropbox, who graduated from MIT in the process of starting his own (mega) successful company. From there, fifteen teams pitched their ideas ranging from a low-cost wound pump, bicycles that collect recyclable materials directly from households in Lagos Nigeria, and a digital art company that allows you to discover and experience art from your phone, tablet, or TV. Recent MIT graduates who have started their own companies introduced each of the teams at the event. Ash Martin, founder of Viztu Technologies, whose company was recently acquired, explained the role that MIT had in helping him find his co-founder. Ash had limited technical experience, and at MIT he was able to join forces with Tom Milnes, an engineer. Ash, Drew Houston, and all the other recent grads had the same message for the students in the room: MIT is the ideal place to start your company and you need to take full advantage of the ecosystem surrounding you.

I am proud to say that I successfully graduated from MIT, was able to launch a company as a co-founder, and helped our company obtain our first outside funding from Healthbox, a Blue Cross Blue Shield-funded health tech accelerator that we are currently participating in. We are also incubating through athenahealth’s More Disruption Please program, leveraging their healthcare information data infrastructure. We have accomplished all of this in just six months thanks to the unbelievably supportive entrepreneurial community at MIT.

Leave school Mr. Thiel? No thank you.

Andrea Ippolito is a recent MIT graduate and Co-Founder of Smart Scheduling. Follow @andreakippolito

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  • Mike R.

    In fairness to Mr. Thiel, MIT is at the top of a short list of schools with a strong ecosystem for developing entrepreneurship

  • J Rambo

    Great post. Right up my alley as I facilitate the growth of the students entrepreneurs ecosystem. Founding a company as a student is about as difficult as baking a cake in a bakery, IF you have the right people (MENTORS) to support and guide your efforts. The resources are at your fingertips, and there is a massive talent pool with zero opportunity cost, aside from grades potentially if you mismanage time, and office costs are paid for. From the perspective of a recent grad, I wish I had the resources my cohorts have that are just a couple years younger. In response to the Peter Theil remark, in my opinion it’s a terrible idea to propose that all students take that path and dropout. Relate that to the one and done NCAA basketball players, only about 1-200 make it to the NBA after year one. Thanks and keep up the good posts.

  • J Rambo

    Just a note – I’m reblogging your post to my blog with due credit. Please let me know if I am violating any terms or need to get permission etc. Thanks!