On Monday, the Startup Institute ushered a new class into its new home in Boston’s Leather District, where students can work walls away from Techstars’ spring cohort. Forty-eight fresh faces now fill the room, still largely unaware of what the next eight weeks have in store.
To help students get acclimated and better grasp the realities of entrepreneurship, the Startup Institute will throw participants head first into a 24-hour “IdeaHack.”
Similar IdeaHacks have happened before, focused on nonprofits like the Possible Project or Sharitive. This time around, however, students will be tasked with helping TUGG, an organization operating on the cusp of technology and philanthropy — an intersection Startup Institute Vice President and Director Allan Telio said is a “natural fit” for the program.
On Thursday afternoon, students will be split into cross-functional teams, and be given the chance to interact with individuals from one of the program’s four tracks: Web development, product and design, technical marketing and sales and account management.
With teams decided, students will be posed a problem and given 24 hours to find a solution. For TUGG specifically, students will be working within the constraints of the nonprofit’s smaller staff and a tighter marketing budget, according to Anthony Cole, product manager at the Startup Institute.
“Students will be helping them think of, and come up with, solutions for making a greater impact in the startup ecosystem,” Cole said, adding the group will also look at the broader picture of scale, both within Boston and potentially outside city lines.
Not only will students be giving back to the local community, but they’ll also leave the IdeaHack with a better understanding of what startups deal with on an everyday basis and will be forced to drum up actionable solutions.
“We do this right in the beginning to help them get a handle on group dynamics and solving problems,” Telio said. “They need to take something from an idea through fruition, and it’s done in the context of helping serve the greater good.”
Thursday’s IdeaHack comes on the heels of the Startup Institute launching its spring program on three of its campuses: Boston, New York and Chicago. In mid-January, the Startup Institute announced the program would be expanding overseas to London and Berlin, with a new $1.3 million in funding.
This latest Boston class, according to Telio, is primarily comprised of “career changers.” And, because of that, he’s eager to dive deeper into the curriculum.
“One of the things I’m always thrilled about are those willing to take the risk and go after something that they love,” Telio said. “It really takes a certain type of personality that wants to get involved in something that makes a difference, and get involved in something that makes an impact.”
In just 24 hours, Startup Institute students will discover what kind of impact they can make.