Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to the new class of Startup Institute Boston on the first day of the program. I am a big fan of Aaron O’Hearn, Shaun Johnson and the entire SIB team. Many of the schools we meet at EverTrue are over two hundred years old. SIB is less than two years old.
I was blown away by the insightfulness and passion on display during our 60 minute Q&A. The students thoughtfully articulated why they are pursing entrepreneurship or early-stage employment opportunities in lieu of more stable positions at big companies. Impact, passion, culture and influence were commonly cited.
These students are going to learn a lot of hard skills in the coming weeks. But my main message was that the relationships they build and the entrepreneurs they meet during the program are likely to have a far greater impact on their near-term and long-term successes. I shared my story of accidentally meeting Walt Doyle and Scott Kirsner while volunteering at Venture Summit East in 2010. Walt and his team at Where adopted me, which led me to accidentally meeting my Co-Founder and CTO Eric Carlstrom at Drinks on Tap #6, which led to TechStars, MassChallenge and our first round of funding. And I’m pretty sure those experiences will continue to lead to many great things to come personally and professionally.
As I walked up the stairs at South Station this morning, I was greeted by one of the Startup Institute students. Her name is Candice Oyer and she is an aspiring entrepreneur with a background in apparel design. While walking to our office, I asked her how she got connected to Startup Institute Boston. She shared that a classmate from her graduate program at the Savannah College of Art and Design was a member of the inaugural class of SIB. They reconnected in Boston and her friend suggested she apply to the second class. So she did.
Based on my quick conversation with Candice, I think she’s going to get a lot of out the program. She is in the early stages of getting her apron ecommerce business, Typo-O by CEO off the ground. Her designs are impressive and she’s bringing Vineyard Vines and Lilly Pulitzer style to a boring category.
Hearing Candice’s story was a simple reminder of the impact of alumni networks and networks in general. I’m willing to bet that when she left Savannah she couldn’t have guessed her education would lead her to the Startup Institute. But I’m glad that it did.
Candice will soon be a part of the Startup Institutel alumni network. And that network will bring its own surprises for Candice and her peers.
To the students at SIB: thank you for choosing the road less traveled. This ecosystem is pulling for you because we need you to help make a difference for our customers, users, team members and investors. Good luck, and make sure to Never Eat Alone.