As a two-people team, Bill Aulet and Trish Cotter are among the finalists of this year’s 50 on Fire.
They both work side by side at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, Aulet as managing director and Cotter as director of “delta v,” MIT’s student venture accelerator and capstone program.
Announced in June, the latest edition of the summer program cranked out 21 student ventures. Many of them will sound familiar to our readers. Think of Sophia, an online database that helps you find the right therapist; think of Klarity, which we dubbed “the Grammarly for legal contracts.” And if power plants are your thing, think of the device that recycles water invented by Infinite Cooling.
We asked Cotter for some thoughtful feedback about the latest edition of the “delta v” program.
BostInno: How was the last edition of the MIT “delta v” program?
Trish Cotter: It went really well. It was our largest cohort to date. We had 21 teams and 65 entrepreneurs, and 42% women. In the early days, we had about 15% women. The other thing that was different was, we had students from all across campus, from the lab, from the mechanical and from the business school, so it was great.
What did you learn from this edition and what do you think you can change for the next edition of the program?
There’s always room for improvement. We talk about customers and we talk about the product during the summer, we talk about business readiness or not, but we don’t really prepare [the students] for the investment community, and I think that’s one area that we are going to invest in.
The latest edition of the program was also the first time that MIT opened the Startup Studio in New York City.
That was a terrific experiment and we will be doing that again, most likely, if we can receive funding, this coming summer as well. It ended up with a huge network.
What do you think students get in New York City that they can’t get in Boston or San Francisco or wherever else they might launch a venture?
The ecosystem in Boston has really improved. Even three years ago, students felt that in order to get funded, the had to go out West. They see that differently now. A lot of students came here and they’re not quite sure what they want to do. What we have that Silicon Valley doesn’t have is that you can walk out of our door and there’s Microsoft, there’s Google, there’s the CIC, there’s a whole bunch of startups. And now with MassChallenge over on the Seaport, you got all different districts all around Boston, I think students can find a nice home post-graduation.
What was the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
Sticking with something you believe in, keep adding, I think, that’s always been my mantra. Keep plugging, keep going, and believe in what you’re doing. If it isn’t working, try something else.
Note: The interview has been edited for length and clarity.