Summer Catalyst: Week 1
Monday June 1st, 2020 marked the launch of the Blank Center’s new virtual accelerator: the Summer Catalyst. Over the next 10 weeks, 16 teams will innovate, collaborate, and work toward accelerating their businesses. Together, these exceptional participants will learn, grow, support one another, and navigate the entrepreneurial journey amidst a global pandemic.
Despite the unprecedented circumstances, these phenomenal teams brought a rich level of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to kick off the first week.
Here are some of the highlights:
The orientation activities on Monday fostered a unique level of virtual engagement and enabled entrepreneurs to connect with one another, channel their creativity, develop teamwork skills, and have fun! All participants were divided into teams and worked together on three different virtual scavenger hunts for a chance to win exciting prizes!
For the first round, teams were assigned the following tasks: 1) to identify images that represented three similarities amongst the team members and 2) to take a team “screen shot” selfie.
The process of searching for similarities allowed entrepreneurs to get to know one another and cultivated a sense of team bonding. These “screenshot” selfies showcased the innovative and animated spirit of the Summer Catalyst entrepreneurs, all of whom strove to think outside of the box. The unique photos ranged from stunning floral backgrounds, to creative poses, to heart formations.
For the next two rounds, the questions and answers became a bit more unusual. What is the strangest thing in your closet?
Mannequin heads. Dried roses. A centurion helmet. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? Cow brain tacos with a side of ant eggs and scorpions. Which two people would you choose to be stranded on an island with? Bear Grylls and Elon Musk. Quite the amusing and captivating cohort!
Ultimately, this day embodied the element of innovation, vibrance, community, and diversity that will carry through the rest of the summer.
On day two, Summer Catalyst Advisor David Chang helped teams navigate the rich entrepreneurial ecosystem in Boston. Participants learned about ways to leverage key resources, influencers, and community to work toward accelerating their businesses.
Shortly after, teams pitched their businesses in three minutes using only three slides in a Rocket Pitch session. This was great practice for delivering a quick snapshot of the venture and receiving some initial feedback.
Today was the first Lunch & Learn session with Summer Venture Program alumni Alisson Amaral ’21, founder of CollegeSpot, and Jess Lynch MBA’18, CEO and founder of WishRoute. Both speakers shared tips and strategies to help entrepreneurs make the most of their time at Summer Catalyst. They emphasized the importance of embracing feedback, being open to new possibilities, and building connections. Summer Catalyst provides an opportunity for participants to learn from their peers and consider new perspectives as they build their ventures.
On day four, entrepreneurs experienced their very first Hot Seat of the summer. Hot Seat provides an opportunity for the Summer Catalyst participants to develop clear and compelling presentations. First up was Jason Shatsky ’21, founder of TicketRev, the first ever reverse marketplace for event tickets.
After delivering a 6-8 minute pitch, each entrepreneur receives invaluable, constructive feedback from their peers and mentors. Audience members hold up colorful SNAPS signs to show if they agreed with certain comments. This process enables the presenter to see which critiques and questions are the most popular. After the Hot Seat, the presenter enters a rebuild session to work on strengthening and revamping their pitch.
What’s in store for next week?
Teams will work on their Lean Canvas business model, meet with their coaches to discuss milestones, engage in another Hot Seat session, and learn about customer discovery with Eric Braun.