Much More Than Office Space: Babson’s Partnership with MassChallenge
As was recently announced, Babson has partnered with MassChallenge to provide its MBA students with hatchery space for their startups. As a student entrepreneur and participant in this program, I was asked to comment on my thoughts and experiences at MassChallenge so far at the March 3 event at the MassChallenge office. My perspective on the matter is that not only is this a logical extension of all the support that Babson already provides its MBA’s, it’s also an invaluable and pretty frickin’ awesome perk to being a student entrepreneur here.
Those who know me well know that I consider Babson my family. This is primarily because I spend more time with Babson people than I do with my own family, but it is also because Babson more or less adopted me as an 18-year-old, dreamy-eyed freshman and hasn’t been able to be rid of me since.
One of the weird things about family, however, is that they often can see something in you that you yourself might not see. Ten years ago, Babson saw an entrepreneur in me many years before I saw one in myself. For that, I will always be grateful. However, I think this insight into my soul, so to speak, was something unique to me. I think what makes Babson so special is that it sees the entrepreneur in every student that walks through its doors and over the course of however long you’re here, Babson tries above all else to develop and foster that entrepreneurial side of all of us. And this partnership with MassChallenge is yet another awesome, yet logical, step in the school’s seemingly relentless goal.
Most business schools will tell you that there’s a big difference between the theory and the practice. However, Babson is unique in that the theory it teaches is to practice, to just go out and start something, try something. Babson professors, in their utmost humility, understand that it’s a completely different learning experience learning something from them than from the school of hard knocks and them saying something doesn’t have the same impact as a seasoned entrepreneur saying the same exact thing. This is why the MassChallenge experience that is now being afforded to Babson students is so important. The cube that Crisson and I squatted happens to be adjacent to that of Locately, which is much farther along the entrepreneurial path than we are. We were here on a Friday evening once and Drew invited us to partake in “whiskey Friday”—another important “lesson” we learned about traditions that day—during which he thankfully shattered quite a number of our foolish and naïve notions about scaling and acquiring customers. What he said stuck with me, much more than any classroom lesson.
Also, there’s something validating about having an office. It makes you feel like you’re a real business and that when you come here, you’re coming to work. This alone has exuded significant powers of concentration on Crisson and myself. We are most productive when we are here, at MassChallenge.
The other benefit of this partnership is the access the student businesses have to all the workshops and networking events that MassChallenge facilitates. Every week there are new panels, new speakers and new events happening around town that most of us would otherwise not get to partake in. The tenants here have been able to pull off, additionally, the one and only example I’ve seen of effective email networking. Someone sends around an email to all tenants saying that he knows someone with such-and-such credentials looking for a job and almost immediately another tenant will respond saying he knows someone who would love to hire that person. So, this is a very valuable mailing list to be on for any entrepreneur…
So, in summary, the existence of this kind of community and all the ways in which others and I have benefited from it is a validation of the basic principle on which Fetchmob is founded – that the best group of people to rely on for help are your peers and the members of your local community, however you define that community. The benefits to both Babson and MassChallenge as a result of this relationship are paramount. It’s not a bad deal being caught in the middle as well.
Alisa is a One-Year MBA, Class of 2011, and the co-founder of fetchmob.com. Find her online at: