Hello there! Welcome to another edition of the Start@Shea Discover series, this time we’re diving deep into our newest program: The Lab! The Lab is an open incubator for student founders and non-founders to come together and learn from one another as well as the Start@Shea team on what makes a successful startup. Jack Russell (CSOM ’23) is the lead of The Lab team and the idea spawned out of his journey as a co-founder of MCEE. His company went through Start@Shea’s Elevator Pitch Competition, Accelerator Program, and Strakosch Venture Competition, and he noticed that there was a gap between the stages of ideation and execution. The Lab is here to fill that gap and allow students to develop their companies in between our Elevator Pitch Competition and our Accelerator Program. But what’s so great about The Lab is that it’s not just open to participants in either program or even just to founders–The Lab’s doors are wide open to anyone on BC’s campus!
The format is a series of six weekly workshops, each focusing on a particular element of being a founder and startups. Right now we’re halfway through our program, so three workshops down, three more to go! Our first night on October 26th, “What you should be thinking of as a founder,” focused on the founder mindset. From the basics of company names, and product market fit, to the nitty gritty of pain points and customer research, Jack covered it all. On November 2nd, he discussed “Developing your Business Model”. The session went over pitch decks, off the cuff pitches, investor pitching, monetary planning, and go-to-market strategies, using examples from attendees’ companies. The following session on the 9th was all about “Getting Technical”: building an MVP, technical founders, and in-house vs outsourcing development, bringing in his startup’s CTO, Gianna Jarmain (MCAS ’23) as a guest speaker. If any of these at all sound interesting to you please come out to our next session, this Wednesday, 11/16, at 6:00 PM. RSVP here!
What makes each session and The Lab as a whole so unique is actually what happens when the presentation is over. After Jack and the team go through their slides, the space almost becomes like an office hours session. Russ gives insight from his time founding MCEE and how it can help students on their specific journey as a founder. Advice, experience, and feedback are all fair game from our resident student founder on the board. Hearing these conversations has been amazing and to see some of the ideas that our BC students have, and any way Start@Shea can help is exactly what we’re here for.
Student turnout has been amazing too! We were hoping for around 10–12 applications and ended up getting 21, and even more students attending without applying just to hear the culture of founders and be in the space with some insanely creative and driven people. One of our attendees, James Koonce (CSOM ‘26), said “The Shea Lab has taught me a variety of skills, that have not only taught me, but motivated me to pursue an entrepreneurial future. The lab has taught me what makes a good product, how to capture the attention of investors, and ultimately how to go about bringing my ideas to fruition. The ideas and skills taught are essential for the success of early stage entrepreneurs.” The Lab was supposed to be a perfect place to make the next step as a founder or to learn from those who have and are currently taking that step. I’d say we’ve made that idea happen.
Looking towards our next three sessions, we have “Everything Marketing this Wednesday” (RSVP here), then “How to Leverage Your Network,” and “Moving Forward”. We hope you’ll consider joining us and experimenting with whatever ideas you have cooking in The Lab! In closing, Jack Russell said about the Lab thus far, “It’s been great seeing how many students on campus have an idea and want to do something with it. The student founder community is strong and we hope The Lab is helping these ideas become executed,” capturing the spirit of the program perfectly.
Thanks for reading! We are Start@Shea, the student executive team of the Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship at Boston College.
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