For two-and-a-half weeks in January, MIT students got a crash course in hiring, funding, pitching, and other essentials of entrepreneurship. Throughout the Start6 course, offered during the Institute’s Independent Activities Period, roughly 80 participants met with successful founders and venture capitalists to learn the ins and outs of launching a start-up.
Launched in 2014 to help students make informed career choices, Start6 is led by Anantha Chandrakasan, head, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering. “The course exposed the students not just to one way of thinking but a multitude of different ways to think about starting a business,” Chandrakasan explained in an interview with Beta Boston.
Among this year’s speakers were Dropbox founder Drew Houston ’05, Ethernet co-inventor Robert Metcalfe ’68, and Bernard Gordon ’48, SM ’49, known as “the father of high-speed, analog-to-digital conversion.” Speakers recounted their struggles and emphasized the unpredictability of success. Metcalfe, for example, noted that the best technology doesn’t always succeed: “Innovation is very complicated. That’s the reason that most [start-ups] fail,” he said.
Most of the Start6 students had recently launched a company, or had ideas they hoped to turn into one. Working with mentors, students developed a business pitch and product, which they presented on the last day of the course. Phillip Nadeau, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering and computer science, said he enrolled in Start6 to learn about ways to commercialize a medical device to help people with inflammatory bowel syndrome. “We want to see what it would take. Is there a market, what’s the process for finding a market,” he told MIT News.
Learn more about Start6 at its website.