One person can have a game-changing business idea, but it also takes a network of workers, mentors, and investors to help make it happen. Women founders from MIT Sloan gathered in February to learn how the school and the Institute can help them launch and grow their startups.
The virtual event, “The MIT Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: Supporting Alumnae Founders," included Sloanies and friends from around the world and featured lightning talks from alumnae and on-campus partners, as well as sessions for networking and questions and answers.
“I have seen firsthand how challenging it can be to realize a founder’s dream,” said Annely Guzman, EMBA ʼ16, a member of the Women's Conference Steering Committee. “Although you have left campus, there are programs at MIT to help you in your founder’s journey.”
As founder and chief executive officer of Fermata Discovery, Amanda von Goetz, MBA ʼ14, leverages the intellect and enthusiasm of MIT students to grow her startup. Von Goetz presented with Tavi Sookhoo, assistant director of career prototypes at MIT Career Advising and Professional Development. Together, they discussed micro-internships, setting realistic expectations on intern output, and how to draft a job description that is beneficial to both the entrepreneur and the student.
“When I really think about it, MIT interns have been with me for basically every important milestone these past few years,” von Goetz said.
Christina Qi, SB ʼ13, is a veteran in the startup space. She cofounded one business while at MIT and launched another in 2019. Both times, she sought support from MIT’s Venture Mentoring Services (VMS). Established in 2000, VMS provides entrepreneurs with a team of volunteer mentors that guides both founders and their ventures, said Haley Tidd, operations manager for VMS.
As the CEO of Databento, Qi also uses VMS’s office hours service to connect with subject-matter experts, including attorneys, accountants, and patent experts. “I was meeting with an intellectual property lawyer week after week for free,” Qi said.
Daisy Zhuo, PhD ʼ18, has introduced her company’s products to businesses across the globe thanks to the MIT Startup Exchange, which fosters collaborations between MIT-connected startups and industry partners.
“We started a pilot program with one of the companies in the Startup Exchange and realized the product we were building was a little too narrow,” said Zhuo, cofounder of Interpretable AI. “That collaboration not only helped us get funded but, more importantly, enabled us to figure out where we wanted to go as a company.”
The office hosts approximately 20 events a year at global innovation hubs, including Silicon Valley, London, and Tokyo. Entrepreneurs are invited to pitch or speak on a panel at these conferences, said Catarina Madeira, program director at MIT Startup Exchange.
“The MIT Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: Supporting Alumnae Founders” was the second installment of a virtual series focused on the theme of connection, empowerment, and action. The in-person MIT Sloan Women’s Conference from October 21 to 22, 2022, in Cambridge will build on these concepts and feature talks, panel discussions, and networking sessions with MIT Sloan faculty and alumnae. Learn more about how to register.