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For many, path to startup success runs through MIT Sloan’s New Enterprises class

Dozens of students cite the popular class as the place to kick off a new startup.

By Amy MacMillan Bankson  |  October 19, 2016

2016-Aulet

Bill Aulet

Hundreds of companies, such as HubSpot and Lark, have gotten their start in MIT Sloan’s New Enterprises class, a well-known course that began in 1961, said Bill Aulet, managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

The MIT Sloan class, which is open to all students, as well as cross-registrants from Harvard University and Wellesley College, gives students who want to start their own companies the chance to make detailed plans for a startup. It also attracts students who want to know more about how entrepreneurship works.

The elective class, offered each semester, has an average of 250 students enrolled each year. Aulet, who is one of the instructors, said it has been a springboard to successful startups because it is practical and based on “a structured process built on the great academic environment here at MIT.” Students from Harvard and the other schools at MIT contribute to the class’s success, said Aulet, who is teaching the class this semester with professor Christian Catalini.

Three recent MIT Sloan startups all cited New Enterprises as a key component to their early success.

Aulet shared his thoughts on each company:

Ecovent offers room-by-room temperature control with a smartphone

Ecovent: This MBA-founded startup offers a room-by-room temperature control system that is controlled with a phone. Co-founders Dipul Patel, MBA ’14, CEO, and Yoel Kelman MBA ’14, COO, met each other in the New Enterprises class.

“A fantastic team with a skill set very appropriate for an exploding market,” Aulet said.

Read: “Comfort Zone.”

Alexandria Miskho and Rena Pacheco-Theard

Prepify: Founded by Rena Pacheco-Theard, MBA ’16, and Alexandria Miskho, SB ’17, who also met in the New Enterprises class, Prepify is a web application that connects low-income students to top colleges.

“This team is supremely motivated to solve this major problem in society using business techniques and incentives,” said Aulet.

Read “Startup offers free college prep services.”

Riley Clubb

Maskerade: A 12-seat virtual reality theater in Walla Walla, Washington, Maskerade opened as an experimental pop-up last summer.

Riley Clubb, MBA ’17, created Maskerade in New Enterprises last year, where he also worked with fellow MBA students Jennifer Lee and Eileen Parra on developing a business plan for a virtual reality production and distribution company that would focus on performing arts and live theater.

Clubb returned to MIT Sloan this semester to work on his next endeavor—a mixed reality theater startup.

“This is a convergence of newly omnipresent available technology combined with the founding team’s passion to create a new opportunity for artists and artistic content that might otherwise die out,” Aulet said.

Read “Lights, camera, action at pop-up virtual reality theater.”