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$100k Applicants Prepare for Success at the Founder’s Workshop

Tufts community gathers to gain firsthand advice from investors and successful entrepreneurs.

On Friday, February 7th the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center hosted a Founder’s Workshop on Startup Fundamentals and Essentials. Over 70 students, faculty, and staff attended the event with an eye on preparing their new venture for success.

The event kicked off with an insightful Q&A session with Steve Herrod, Managing Director at General Catalyst. Kevin Oye, Executive Director of Tufts Gordon Institute, led the session diving into Steve’s accomplishments and biggest lessons learned as an entrepreneur. Steve also fielded questions from the audience, offering attendees a window into the world of a venture capitalist.

Kevin Oye and Steve Herrod

Steve Herrod's Takeaways

  • Do your research! Learning why your business is better is essential. If you’re not 10 times better than your competitors, a venture capitalist will not see your business as worth investing in.
  • Passion is a must ... it’s a long road”. 
  • Friction is a term often used by venture capitalists. This term refers to how hard it is to adopt your idea. A good answer to this question is a must when pitching to investors.
  • Diversity of experience, resilience, and a demonstrated ability to overcome challenges are important attributes that investors look for in a founder or co-founders.  

The afternoon continued with sessions focusing on Acquiring Your First Customers, Intellectual Property Considerations for Startups, and Funding Your New Venture.

Gavin Finn, President & CEO, Kaon Interactive, Inc., and Tufts Gordon Institute Professor of the Practice, discussed the importance of a go-to-market strategy. Gavin highlighted the value of finding a problem that people want to solve – “if you have to convince people, then you do not have the right product”. 

Howard Susser, Chair, IP Litigation, Burns & Levinson shared details on various types of intellectual property (IP). Howard emphasized the moat and noted the importance of patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, business ideas, publicity rights, and privacy/data rights as the keys to protecting your business and providing a barrier to the competition.

Frank Apeseche, Chairman at Amstar, Co-founder of J. Locke, and Tufts Gordon Institute Professor of the Practice delved into lessons he has learned about funding through his experiences as an entrepreneur and an investor. Frank stressed the importance of a forward-thinking mindset, focusing not only on attracting capital, but on what you plan to do with the capital. Additionally, Frank encouraged attendees to take the time to find the right investor – “finding an investor with the right relationships, knowledge, and know-how is vital”.

Frank Apeseche

The sessions were followed by a “fireside” chat with past $100k New Ventures Competition winners:

  • Jake Lombardo (MSIM '19) and Konstantinos Tzortzakis (MSIM '19), Co-Founders at Anodyne Nanotech, Inc.
  • Farah Momen (F20), CEO & Co-Founder of The Now Exchange
  • Alfred Naayem (MSIM '19), Founder of Kandula Brewing Company

The panel of young alums offered valuable insights for $100k New Ventures Competition applicants and suggestions for those starting a new venture. 

Tips from the Panel of Past $100k New Ventures Competition Winners

  • Make sure you have your finances straight. Be concrete with what you want to do and be realistic.
  • Talking to your end-user is an essential step to validate your idea
  • Create a cohesive story that sets you apart from others.
  • Before you add members to your team, take the time to determine what kind of values are important to you and what type of culture you want for your company.
  • It’s important to find the right people to add to your team. Look for people that will be fully committed as working for a startup is challenging mentally and emotionally.
  • Network with a purpose – know what you are looking for and talk to people to find the right advisors. 
  • When adding advisors, it’s important to find people with experience and credibility.
Farah Momen presenting on a panel

The evening closed with group coaching sessions led by faculty, workshop speakers, and past $100k winners. Armed with information and tips from investors, lawyers, faculty, and successful entrepreneurs, attendees were inspired and excited to take their new venture to the next level. 

If you were not able to attend this Founder’s Workshop, be sure to attend an upcoming TEC Jumbo Café. The Jumbo Cafés are free weekly workshops for students and are led by faculty, TEC advisory board members, and successful entrepreneurs.