This is the story of Nate, John, Chris and Tyler, who started a company while attending MIT and decided to stay in school while working on their startup at the same time.
I first met Nate Robert and John Reynolds in March 2013. Nate (then 22) and John (then 21) were seniors studying Mechanical Engineering at the time. In the previous semester, Nate and John took a mechanical design class (MIT 2.009), where they became intrigued by the problem of delivering beer to pubs without elevator access. Traditionally, beer distribution companies use dollies that cost around $300 each. Delivery personnel would stack two kegs on each dolly, then bend over and bounce 320lb of beer up and down flights of stairs. Not only does this destroy the dollies, but repetitive back strain for delivery men results in a high injury rate, costing these companies millions of dollars every year.
During my recent visit to Seattle with MIT Sloan’s Technology Club, the city impressed me as a vibrant, outdoorsy town with a dynamic technological ecosystem. And man, do Seattleites love their teams.
As a native of Boston — a city famous for its rabid sports culture — I have to hand it to Seattle, whose fans regularly cause earthquakes by cheering for their football team. (According to seismologists, Seahawks fans shook the ground under CenturyLink Field during the recent playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, causing the second Seattle fan-generated earthquake in three years.) Respect.
Fervent fans aside, what I found most striking about the city was its entrepreneurial spirit. Sure, I knew about the creative work done by Seattle’s blue chip behemoths: Microsoft and Amazon. But I hadn’t appreciated the city’s thriving startup culture.
For many “born-on-the-Internet” companies, slow growth isn’t an option. These are companies that started on the Web with a global marketplace in mind, and many are finding that it’s either scale or be irrelevant. They work hard to achieve market leadership, to realize economies of scale and economies of scope, and to be recognized as the brand leader. A few examples of these ventures include Dropbox, Evernote, Fab, Etsy,GrouponGRPN +4.15%, LinkedInLNKD +0.84%, Pinterest, Stripe and Square.
These types of businesses often start fast and never let up, which stresses a startup financially and can leave its owners emotionally drained. To maintain advantage, they need to have the proper building blocks in place in order to go full speed ahead with the best chances for success.
A lot of discussion in the media recently has focused on whether or not entrepreneurs should spend valuable time and money pursuing an MBA degree versus gaining experience on the front lines of a startup. Some commentators such as Vivek Wadhwa even insist that an MBA subtracts from a candidate’s value. Read More »
In the world’s poorest regions, there is no single path to development. Government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private enterprises all have roles to play. Bureh engages with Sierra Leone’s private sector to promote, at a grass roots level, private enterprise and the entrepreneurs who will make this happen, all while being a socially responsible, for-profit company itself. Read More »