MSIM Students Close Out Semester with Final Sprint Updates
Like the final stretch to any race, the last Sprint updates for MS in Innovation and Management students were filled with highlights, marking some of the biggest strides made on their ventures and career journeys since starting the program. Presenting to faculty and staff, MSIM students convened over Zoom on July 27 to share the progress they made over the summer.
Built into the MSIM program, Innovation Sprints are fast-paced, intense ventures that mirror the experience of launching a startup. Students can choose to refine an idea throughout all three Sprints or change ideas at the beginning of each new phase. In the third and final Sprint, students can opt to complete an internship or take on a full-time job.
“I’ve had a chance to talk to the students individually about their various Sprints and what impressed me was the variety of things that they’re doing,” said Kevin Oye, Executive Director of Tufts Gordon Institute, Director of the MSIM program, and Professor of the Practice.
This year’s MSIM cohort has been getting real-time experience in understanding the challenges startups are facing. As many companies found new ways to grow their businesses under a pandemic, MSIM students were learning right alongside them, too.
When Earn Khunpinit returned to her native Thailand following a shift to distance learning in the spring semester, she launched a people-oriented hand sanitizer line, ensuring disadvantaged communities in Thailand had access to high-quality, affordable cleaning solutions. With what started as a resolve to help individuals, and pass time in quarantine, the project became the focus of Earn’s final semester.
“We want to use this product to reeducate consumers on all the different rates of what alcohol exists in the industry,” said Earn. Her hand sanitizer line is Thai FDA approved and she has forged new partnerships to grow the brand.
Undoubtedly, the impact of the pandemic has reached into nearly every sector. Across the globe, one of the hardest hit industries was food service. For their final Sprint, Jonas Pirkl and Lee Ann Song worked to make a difference for a farm-to-table restaurant in Toledo, Ohio.
“One of the most valuable things we’ve learned from this experience in putting on our entrepreneurial hats to help a real small business was that it’s tough, very messy and scrappy work,” said Lee Ann, noting how rewarding the work was despite the intricacies.
As the pandemic loomed large, several students have also participated in the Tufts Summer Venture Accelerator. In a new partnership with LEGO Ventures, selected finalists will pitch their ideas to the LEGO Ventures team for a chance to be accepted into their incubator, where selected teams will receive support in launching their business concepts.
In addition to new ventures, several students continued existing ones. Started by George Ginis, Partible is a “prefabrication manufacturing company that has developed the first box office structure which can be placed in any exterior part of people’s houses – creating the perfect office space for those who work or want to work remotely from home.”
Landing two potential customers who need portable offices because of remote work, Partible has moved forward with a new website and team. According to George, his top three takeaways from the program were “facilitating conversations, finance skills and trusting the process.”
“I was really happy that I used those skills in a job as an employer and employee,” said George.
Nirant Chilimbi used his summer Sprint to work on his passion for music and played a sample of music he created to the cohort. Whether it’s music or portable offices, the message is the same, according to Nirant. “It’s very important to have a good team and to do what you love because it is going to really show what you are capable of doing,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed by fellow cohort members, too. “We had a lot of fun throughout this journey. We got out of our comfort zones, met many people, and talked to them,” said Vidhya Shree Sivakumar in her presentation for hivy, a group whose work focuses on mental fitness solutions in relation to Alzheimer's disease.
William Vinke and Alok Chand continued SeaDeep’s goal of revolutionizing ocean conservation through 3D modeling and Jean Pham and Fiona Wang have been busy furthering Cellens.
Making an Impact in Industry
Several of the students also took their skills to internships and full-time roles this summer. From functions like marketing to product management, the variety of courses in the MSIM program have prepared the cohort to undertake nearly any role within a company.
Regarding her work this summer, Christina Holman said, “We’ve been thinking about what some of the digital tools are, the interfaces that we can better develop, that show that we still have the capability and can be competitive in this space."
Srushti Acharekar later said, “One of the biggest things that I came into this program for was to build a network of people I can reach out to and connect with. I think that’s apart from all the learnings. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve gotten from that idea – I have my community.”
No matter what’s next for the graduating MSIM cohort, they’ve been well prepared by the lessons, experiences and training they’ve received in the program. Backed by a wide variety of skills, MSIM students are ready to tackle countless challenges and industries.