Entrepreneurship at MIT for Future Entrepreneurs

By Don Guo, Antonius Santoso, and Yao Zhang, SCMb candidate 2019

What are the similarities among these companies: Dropbox, Intel, iRobot, Kiva Systems, Bose?

Well, they all seem unique with different business models that solve different problems, right? For example, Dropbox enables file synchronization and sharing; Intel designs and manufactures chips; iRobot, well, sells cleaner robots; Kiva, now Amazon Robotics, is an industrial robot company that automates warehouse operations; and Bose is well known for its high quality audio devices. How could these companies be similar?

It turns out that they are founded by MIT alumni.

The MIT Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

Entrepreneurship is at the heart of MIT. A 2015 report by MIT Sloan School of Management estimates that around 30,000 companies are founded by MIT alumni, employing roughly 4.6 million people and producing an aggregated annual revenue of USD 1.9 trillion, equivalent to the world’s 10th largest economy.

What is the secret source for MIT that’s so successful at nurturing its students’ entrepreneurial spirits? Based on our first-hand experiences here, we believe part of it is the startup resources provided in different shapes and formats. True to the motto of MIT (mens et manus: mind and hand), these resources are a mix of academics as well as practical experiences. Below are some of the relevant and exciting ones:

  • The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. Located in the same building as CTL, the Trust Center aims to educate MIT students in innovation-driven entrepreneurship and provides proven frameworks, courses, facilities, and advisory services, for students aspiring to be entrepreneurs.
The Cozy Environment at Martin Trust Center
  • MIT fuse. MIT fuse is a 3-week hands-on startup experience during the 3-week Independent Activities Period[ (IAP) in January for students to learn the essential aspects of entrepreneurship — including storytelling, research, marketing, UX, testing, etc. — from Entrepreneurs in Residence mentors and other startup founders.
  • t=0. t=0 is campus-wide festival of entrepreneurship and innovation, bringing together student clubs, departments and startups to showcase innovation and entrepreneurship. t=0 means “the time is now”, which mean that there is no better time than the present to start entrepreneurship.
  • delta v. MIT delta v is a 12-week academic accelerator program (June to early September) for entrepreneurial students. It is one of the most visible programs because it identifies the best startup teams from all different MIT departments and disciplines. delta v focuses on providing a unique combination of space (for cohort-based lateral learning), money (via fellowships so students can and must be full time), structure (as a forcing function for learning and building capabilities), and status (for personal confidence and exposure). In 2018, MIT delta v selected 27 teams that received intensive entrepreneurship training, direct advice from 250+ coaches and mentors, mock board reviews, up to $20,000 USD equity free funding, $2,000 USD monthly fellowship and access to office space and prototyping tools and labs in MIT or New York City.
  • MIT $100K. MIT $100K is a business plan competition that has been running for 20 years and facilitated the birth of 120+ companies. The competition includes elevator pitch, executive summary contests, and detailed business plan judged by panels of experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and legal practitioners.
  • MIT Innovation Initiative. The MIT Innovation Initiative collaborates with all five schools at MIT to strengthen the vibrant culture and programming of innovation and principled entrepreneurship. Under the MIT Innovation Initiative, the MIT Entrepreneurs Hub helps students and alumni navigate MIT’s vast entrepreneurial network and find teammates, partners, and supporters.
  • MIT IDEAS Global Challenge. IDEAS is an annual competition for social entrepreneurship among MIT students. It encourages students to solve problems and improve quality of life issues for people around the world by applying their MIT education in real-world situations. Since 2001, $975,000 has been awarded to 150 winning teams that have served the needs of tens of thousands of people.

Entrepreneurship for SCM Students

The SCMr program is 10 months long and the SCMb program is 5 months long – both are relatively short compared to other MIT programs. However, as aspiring future entrepreneurs, you can still maximize your exposure to the MIT entrepreneurship ecosystem and the abundant resources, if you plan carefully and ahead of time.

The best place to start even before you come on campus is to read the book Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup, by Bill Aulet, the Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. It also helps a lot by researching all the events and resources that you are interested in and preparing you for a more purposeful selection of resources once you arrive.

Once on campus, for SCMr students who are serious about entrepreneurship, you can consider taking 15.360 Introduction to Technological Entrepreneurship and 15.911 Entrepreneurial Strategy classes in the fall, and then 15.390 New Enterprises class in the spring. Depending on your workload, the stage of your current entrepreneurship journey, and your interests in a specific industry, you can also consider other classes such as 15.366 Energy Ventures, 15.367 Healthcare Ventures, 15.497 FinTech Ventures, 15.394 Entrepreneurial Founding and Teams, or 15.392 Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures. You can register and participate in the MIT $100K PITCH Contest and test your idea with a 60-second “elevator pitch” in front of a large audience for a cash award. You can also join many of the workshops offered by MIT IDEAS and compete in the first round of the IDEAS Global Challenge and win up to $15,000 per team to make your idea a reality.

For SCMb students, due to the time constraint, you can consider taking 15.390 New Enterprises class in the spring if you are new to entrepreneurship, or taking 15.392 Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures or 15.911 Entrepreneurial Strategy if you already know the basics. Both SCMr and SCMb students have time to participate in the MIT $100K ACCELERATE and LAUNCH Contest and have a chance to win the $100,000 grand prize. You can also join the additional workshops offered by MIT IDEAS and compete for the second round of the IDEAS Global Challenge.

MIT $100K ACCELERATE Contest in February 2019

Last but not least, if you are committed to your startup ideas and have made good progress, you can apply for the MIT delta v in March for the opportunity to spend an intensive three months from June to early September in Cambridge or New York City to fast track your venture.

Through this blog post, we hope you have gained some insight into the MIT entrepreneurship ecosystem and are excited about the resources provided by MIT. Future SCM students who aspire to create your own startups upon graduation: what are you waiting for?

Left to Right: Don Guo, Antonius Santoso, and Yao Zhang

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