With Workbar hosting the Babson Summer Venture Program, there’s symbiosis afoot in the era of Wi-Fi. Students get to immerse themselves in a genuine coworking environment to grow their startups; Workbar members get an injection of young energy and an early peek at the next horizons of innovation in Boston. A closer look at this summer program and its teams offers an honest preview of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
Even among the digital nomads in a modern coworking space, the student entrepreneurs stand out. It’s not just because they cowork and collaborate and set up cool virtual reality equipment – it’s their contagious excitement about it all. The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship launched the program in 2009, has fostered hundreds of young entrepreneurs (45% of those ventures are still active), and fed top startups into accelerators like Mass Challenge and Y Combinator. Blank Center Executive Director Debi Kleiman (former head of Havas Media and MITX) was the key force in bringing the program into the heart of the city to get closer to Boston’s vibrant startup community. Program Director David Chang (entrepreneur, angel investor, PayPal veteran) works closely with each startup to connect them to people and resources that can make or break a fledgling company.
Program Manager Antonette Ho has been coaxing and steering these Babson charges since 2009, and has grown the program into an exclusive, yet nurturing environment for the right kinds of companies at the right stage of their lifecycle. “Only about 20% of applicants are accepted. We look at a variety of things to see if the business opportunity is viable. Some we reject because they’re too early; some are too advanced. The sweet spot is where we can provide the most help.”
This year 14 teams of 1-4 students made the cut. These are mostly Babson students, but it’s a mix of undergrads, Masters of Science, and MBAs from Wellesley College, and Olin College, too.
Here is the breakdown of this year’s teams:
Reports from afield have been glowing so far, with inspiration, connections, and location working together in concert. Ahead of their flagship event at the end of July, the next few weeks of grinding will be an exciting stage for these startups, the next big thing giving it the old college try.