Students focus on entrepreneurship

Photo Courtesy of Venture Lab

Startup Summer, the counterpart program of Startup Semester, draws more students toward practical entrepreneurship.

“To me, the Startup Summer program focuses on the customer discovery process,” said John Gattuso, a mechanical engineering major and founder of FIXD. “The number one reason why startups fail is because they make something that people don’t want.”

This new program extended from Tech’s Living Learning Communities (LLC) this January and spanned 12 weeks of summer from May 12 to August 8.

“We invested most of our time into developing hypotheses about our customers’ needs and testing them,” said Manuel Perez, another participant. “This process forced us to come face-to-face with the reality of the value we were offering with our startups and to adapt our business models, technology.”

The program concentrates on team commitment, product and service ideas and marketing understanding. It intends to expose the students to hands-on knowledge about each teams startup basics and customer discovery.

“We chose to do the Startup Summer because it allowed us to do FIXD full-time. Also, the access to mentorship, workspace and capital was unbeatable,” Gattuso said.

A total of eight teams of around two to four members were accepted into the program. Currently, this affords teams student-centered resources such as coaching, mentorship and financial grants. Each team receives $15,000 in funding but may find opportunities to obtain more according to need. Mentors and the faculty are the large portion of support system.

“We are striving to increase the amount of allocated resources, and, hence, are hopeful of increasing the number of teams admitted,” said Sivakumar Raghupathy, a professor for the school of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Mentors are typically Tech alumni, all with various entrepreneurship backgrounds. These mentors share a similar experience of launching a company from the ground up and advancing in both successful and unsuccessful directions.

Faculty members, personnel from the Venture Lab and alumni help the participants map their own future for marketable products.

“Student teams typically came in with the goal of creating a startup based on an idea or prototype they had developed earlier in school,” Raghupathy said.

The primary goal for both students and faculty is to see substantial progress from the original idea that each team delineated in the application essay for the program. Students won’t be graded during this course.

Although no credit will count toward the student’s academic record, students in this program are required to work full-time on their startup ideas.