Written by Shannon Hart
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Project Lever CEO Svetlana Dostsenko talks to Boston University students about what it takes to get a startup up and running.
This Tuesday, CEO Svetlana Dotsenko and I met with some aspiring young innovators at Boston University. Professor Amy Slate was kind enough to let Svetlana take over class for the day and give the students a peek into the life and growth of a startup company in the Education sector. The class is entitled "Emerging Technologies in Education," and it is a part of the Education core for undergraduate students.
Professor Slate is very involved in the EdTech industry, meeting with budding entrepreneurs throughout Boston. Slate has visited our shared EdTech office space a couple times to host "Office Hours" - an opportunity for startups to pick the brains of experts, like herself, in the field. Professor Slate thought it would be a great idea to invite entrepreneurs, like our CEO, to guest lecture in her class and "teach students what life is really like out there in the real world for Education startups."
Dotsenko started off the class with a short presentation about Project Lever: its purpose, history, and ultimate goal. She then went on to describe what she thought are the most important elements to focus on in order to build up a startup:
Next came the fun exercise portion of the class: think up your own startup! The students broke off into teams of two or three and developed their own fun idea into a (potentially) growing business.
6 Steps to Creating a Business:
1. Think of a crazy idea. We heard everything from syndicated city transportation apps (a la Uber) to smart test-taking machines that would take your midterms and finals for you (they ran into some plagiarism issues here!).
2. Who would be your customers? Who will pay for your service or product?
3. Hold a customer interview. Get some feedback from your customers as well as your users. What is working? What isn't?
4. Draw a rudimentary prototype. This is where some students really worked their creativity bone. What will the interface of your app look like? Professor Slate and I actually participated in this exercise and came up with our own idea: get the T (or Boston trolley) to be more efficient by having riders select their destination when they board the trolley:
An iPad mounted on the wall of the Boston trolley to facilitate rider efficiency.
5. What is your business model? Get your first customer! What is your mode of action? Who will you network with and pitch to?
6. Get your team together! What strengths does your team possess? Will you need to hire additional members in order to get your business up and running?
It was exciting to see the students come up with their own ideas and learn how to tackle each issue as they came up. We hope to see some of these young entrepreneurs in the EdTech industry sometime soon! Thank you, Boston University class ED211 for letting us stop by!