Summer Catalyst: Week 9
The Summer Catalyst participants have come so far – they’ve developed their products and services, revamped their pitches, made new connections, and collaborated with their fellow entrepreneurs. While learning about different aspects of starting a venture, each entrepreneur has developed stronger communication, leadership, problem solving, and team-work skills. They have celebrated wins and overcome obstacles, all while managing through the pandemic.
Although their time at Summer Catalyst is nearing an end, their future as entrepreneurs is only just beginning. During Week 9, teams focused on finalizing their pitches and preparing for the Showcase. They participated in Team Updates, Hot Seat, Lunch & Learn sessions, Creative Consultations, and Showcase Rehearsals.
Here are some of the highlights:
During their final Team Updates session, Summer Catalyst teams shared updates, asks, and some laughs as everyone posed for an impromptu Zoom picture with their creative mustaches. The picture above features mustaches made of ReServe straws, plastic gloves, sharpie doodles, and real hair. Which one is your favorite ‘stache?
Over the past ten weeks of Summer Catalyst, Team Updates have enabled entrepreneurs to collaborate with one another, build relationships, learn together, and make new friends. Participants have asked for help on fundraising, website development, customer discovery, sales, marketing, and more. These sessions have been supportive, engaging, and fun. Entrepreneurs have jumped in to help one another out, offer feedback, and brainstorm solutions.
Afterwards, teams attended a Lunch & Learn on how to build a startup advisory board with Les Charm, a senior lecturer at Babson College. Here are some helpful tips from Les. One: you want your board of advisors to consist of people who understand your definition of success and want to help you achieve your goals. Two: all advisors should meet together with the team, so they can listen to one another and offer advice collectively. Three: schedule your advisory board meetings and send out the agenda in advance; it respects everyone’s time and demonstrates commitment. Four: if you are an entrepreneur, try to be on someone else’s advisory board; it’s a great learning experience. Five: if you are interested in asking someone to be an advisor, simply start a conversation with them, get to know one another, and discuss your interests and expectations.
On Tuesday, teams participated in their very last Hot Seat and rebuild sessions. Mati Amin MSF’20 was in the Hot Seat pitching LIT Learning, an input-based, language acquisition tool for students and teachers. To learn more, check out this Startup Profile. Afterwards, I held a series of Creative Consultations to advise the entrepreneurs on various topics including website design, visuals, content, and social media, while helping them think through creative solutions to challenging problems.
Summer Catalyst Director Bob Stringer hosted a Lunch & Learn on Startup Culture. Culture is how people feel when they are working on your venture. So, how do you want your team to feel?
During this session, Bob discussed seven characteristics that make people feel motivated and enable them to develop winning startup cultures: passion, ownership, learning, collaboration, messiness, transparency, and caring. The leadership team drives the culture and it’s important to hire employees that share the company’s values. To learn more about startup culture, check out Bob’s book Culture.com: How the Best Startups Make it Happen.
On Thursday, teams participated in Showcase rehearsals and office hours with Tim Chae. Debi Kleiman and Cindy Klein Marmer also offered office hours this week to help the Summer Catalyst teams prepare for Showcase.
What’s in store for next week?
We are getting even closer to the finish line. The 2020 Summer Catalyst Showcase takes place next week on August 6th. Don’t forget to register here and join the exciting virtual event on Facebook Live!
During Week 10, Summer Catalyst participants will continue to work hard, finalize their pitches, and make progress on their milestones. They will attend a Lunch and Learn session with Bob Stringer, meet up with Adam O’Neil, and deliver their pitches at the Showcase.