Zero to Sixty in 3.8 Weeks

By Aaron O’Hearn

As we pass the mid-way point in the inaugural session of the Startup Institute I thought I’d take a minute to reflect and share some thoughts I’ve been having recently. This whole thing began a few months back while at TechStars, and was announced publicly at our favorite Boston tech event, Ruby Riot.

At its inception, the Startup Institute was a program to help keep graduating college seniors in Boston (of which there are ~ 62,000 each year), and train a critical population of startup joiners to support all the growing companies throughout the Boston Ecosystem. In general, the response was through the roof. Of course companies wanted amazing talent to join their team - how we would teach them to be spectacular was another story all together. But as any good startup does, we’d figure it out; and that we did. Our curriculum was developed entirely by practitioners at leading high-growth tech companies throughout Boston and greater New England. We then took on the challenge of adapting and teaching it over our 6-week intensive program.

Things have adapted - and I must say it’s for the better. While we’re keeping graduating college seniors in Boston (hailing from schools like Olin, BC, BU, Tufts, RISD, Babson, Northeastern to name a few), we’re also bringing amazing one’s here. Students have joined us from schools all over the country (Stanford, Wharton, NYU, Michigan State, University of Central Florida, University Miami of Ohio and Yale as example), and even a few from abroad. We believe diversity in our class will continue to drive great interactions and foster deeper relationships amongst our cohort of students.

We’ve also experienced a shift in our vision; it’s gotten [way] bigger. As a team, we’re taking on something big, and we’re doing it one student at a time. We’re building a company to train the next layer of critical talent that growing companies need to survive. Human capital is hard to obtain, often harder than financial capital. While we won’t place individuals within companies, we’ll train them on what it’s like to be there and provide them tools and mentorship to make their own career decisions.

Something that feels a little strange [this is somewhat hard to admit] is that each day I find myself stopping to take in what’s going on and just smiling. I’m constantly blown away by what our class is achieving, and what they’re building ( & are two internal student-led side projects). Guests who join us are impressed, instructors pleased with how eager and engaged everyone is, and I sit back and smile. It’s an awesome feeling harnessing so much energy and motivation in to one location and preparing to unleash it on the community in August.

While the exact product we’re building is still adapting; the foundation on which we’re building is strong and the direction we’re going is clear. Shortly we’ll be announcing our plans for this Fall and Spring of 2013, but we couldn’t have gotten to where we are, nor understood where we’re going without the support of Boston and our current class of students.