Graduate Blog / Graduate Life

New Venture Creation – Your Rehearsal for Shark Tank

“Raise your hand if you have tried meditation before. Now keep your hand up if you have been able to make it a habit.” Two hands of the 34 in the class stay raised. Alex Corindia goes on to introduce OmHero, a product he and I have been working on for our New Venture Creation class.

Taught by professor Andrew Zacharakis , ‘Zach’, a former venture capitalist with The Cambridge Companies and an active angel investor, this course integrates many of the concepts, tools and practices of entrepreneurship.

As I am waiting to present my slides, it is hard not to think how far we have come in the past 14 weeks.

All the students were given hypothetical $100 to “invest” in each of the 13 ideas in the class. The top 3 were presenting to successful venture capitalists in the final session.

The venture capitalists we were presenting to were:

John Giannuzzi – Founder of Sherbrooke Capital, John Giannuzzi leads the firm’s investment and portfolio strategy.

Yumin Choi – Joined Bain Capital Ventures in 2017 and leads the healthcare team. He received his BS in Entrepreneurship and Finance at Babson College.

Sarah Fay – Sarah Fay has more than 20 years of experience in the marketing services industry, with a track record of leveraging technology to deliver groundbreaking new models for advertising and media.

We had 10-12 minutes to impress this panel.

Alex and I had decided to partner up and work together in the second session of our class.  Alex has been meditating for more than 5 years and found a gap in the available equipment (cushions) for meditation. And like every entrepreneur takes matters in his own hands, Alex made a prototype of this cushion. His idea was to build an IoT enabled cushion to build a meditating habit that lasts.

Through every class session, we were learning the steps entrepreneurs need to take in building successful startups. Classes involved analyzing the business plans, financials and culture ideologies of other startups. They say the best experience is learning from others’ mistakes and that is exactly what we were doing as we analyzed other successful and not so successful startups. Many classes involved guest speakers who had their own startups and opened up to the students to share their personal stories and answer our questions.

At the end of each session, we were to apply the learning to our idea. With the help of these exercises, Alex and were able to bring OmHero to life. As we progressed and began to apply the class learnings to the idea, the product evolved. OmHero, from its initial idea of an IoT enabled cushion pivoted to a platform for live meditation classes. At this point, you must be thinking this is Peloton for meditation. You are absolutely right. As we fleshed out the idea, we made the connection that this was indeed Peloton for meditation.

As Alex finished explaining the platform, it was my turn to talk about the target market, marketing plan and revenue drivers before opening it up to questions and feedback from the VCs.

No, there was no dramatic music, camera panning into the VCs or investing like in Shark Tank, but add that and this could have been an episode from Shark Tank.

The VCs gave us some valuable feedback that would only strengthen our idea. Every question the VCs asked each of the team gave us insights into how venture capital actually works and what investors are actually looking for before investing.

After the presentations were over, the VCs answered a few more questions from the students followed by an informal networking session at Rogers.

If you have an idea you want to pursue or just have the entrepreneurial spirit and want to experience the thrill of it, I would highly recommend this course.