By Carina Peng
At LaunchX, a summer entrepreneurship incubator that I attended last summer, not only did I found a startup, but the skills I learned — resiliency, communications skills, and adaptability — are invaluable academically and beyond.
LaunchX, formerly MIT Launch, is a startup incubator that helps students leverage their talents and tenacity to build a viable startup during a summer program. This summer LaunchX is coming to the Chicago area and YOU could apply. “Our goal is to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs by giving high school students both robust entrepreneurship training and a real opportunity to try their hands at starting a business,” says Laurie Stach, the founder and director of LaunchX.
Here are some of the tips I learned from LaunchX:
1. Set business goals and milestones, and clearly define success metrics to track performance.
2. Always strive for improvement and be open to pivoting. Don’t fall in love with an idea, fall in love with the problem, because your idea will always change, but your passion to solve a problem shouldn’t.
3. Focus on two or three priority goals. As an entrepreneur, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin.
4. Foster compassion for others and accountability of tasks.
Chandana, an alum of LaunchX Summer Program 2017, said that going to a startup incubator and constantly working in a team taught her “how to value other people’s ideas because it’s so easy to just focus on your own vision sometimes.” Here is LaunchX’s framework of product creation: LaunchX instilled in me the mindset to always persevere, which helped me become a better entrepreneur, problem-solver, leader as well as team player.
Over the last decade, the number of US-based startup incubators have been growing drastically, from 16 programs in 2008 to more than 200 in 2017 (Brookings Institute, 2017). Want to apply to LaunchX? “When applying,” Chandana advises, “highlight the entrepreneurial qualities within whatever you love doing. Being an entrepreneur...means taking initiative.” Doing is achieving, for every time you push yourself beyond your boundaries to execute on your business, you are one step closer to success. Overall, I learned that a startup is 10% idea, 90% execution.
A key to success in startups is constantly testing and iterating.