At Launch, we emphasize that your potential solution to a problem in the market should be ten times better than existing alternatives of your customer. There is a lot of customer education and switching costs of customers that make it hard to be successful if you are only incrementally better. While this might vary among different industries, our students have found a few in particular that are especially strict.
With the maker space movement, many people have been intrigued to learn 3D printing, laser cutting, and other forms of making. There tends to be a gap between this desire and initial training to being able to create one's own project. Creating a project from scratch requires designing in 3D or 2D software and learning all the customizations needed to create the proper file type. Then, even once the proper file is developed, there's still troubleshooting to get the file to print in the machine properly.
In the maker space I developed and run at MIT, we've found that closing this gap can be done by holding workshops to allow students to work together through this troubleshooting, while having guidance that offers different options of how to develop files. Newer makers can find files from GrabCAD or Thingiverse, learning to find correct file types and how to set them up in the machine. Slightly more experienced makers are able to learn how to develop files from scratch in a supportive community setting.
Check out my previous post about how to setup a maker space. When you're ready to do budgeting, the below can serve as a guide for a cost-effective maker space. As you'll see, the biggest contributor to initial setup costs are the "premium items" like a laser cutter and 3D printer. More intensive maker spaces may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on high-end prototyping machines in this category.
The below list includes links to where these items can be purchased.
Total for this cost-effective maker space: ~$7,650 (not including space, ventilation, workbenches, seating, and initial materials)
Premium Items ($6,020.70)
Bench Tools (optional) ($504.97):
Pioneers of the Makerspace Movement suggest that students just need the space and time to let their creativity flourish. Instead of just learning from a textbook or lecture, students are able to problem solve and put their ideas into action in the physical world, creating their own products or ideas through physical prototyping that can then be shared and improved upon.
What is a Maker Space?
A maker space is a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools and materials. It’s much more than just a physical space with tools and machines, though. A maker space builds and supports community, and accelerates learning via experimentation, making the culture and practices just as important as the machines within the walls.
What is Needed
This is my call to action for the middle and high school students out there: it’s up to you to revitalize the economy. And the way to do this is through entrepreneurship.
The Need for Entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurship has been shown to drive innovation, productivity, and job creation that develops and sustains social progress and economic growth. Carl Schramm of the Kauffman Foundation argues, “Historically through the last seven recessions it’s been entrepreneurs who essentially restarted the economy.” Entrepreneurship drives economies, where countries with higher GDP per capita tend to have a higher entry rate of new businesses, as shown below.
GDP per capital by country is correlated to new business registration density, 2008
Unfortunately, the rate of entrepreneurial activity in the United States has been significantly declining over the last several decades, with the rate of new firm development crossing below that of firm closures for the first time in history just a few years ago. More firms are closing than being started, limiting the economic future of the country.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., August 5, 2016 /Xconomy/ -- What is the ideal age to start a company? It’s a question that often circulates in the business press and on tech blogs. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have weighed in from time to time and their answers tend to fall into two camps. The first group advocates for the 20s as the optimal time. That’s when you have the passion, creativity, and energy necessary for entrepreneurial innovation. Twenty-somethings also tend to have few external commitments, like a spouse, kids, or a mortgage, which makes startup life easier to manage. The second group is a proponent of 30s and 40s—and even 50s. These decades are when you have the knowledge and experience, not to mention the contacts and resources, to make a new business successful.
Of course there is no right answer—you start a business when you have a great idea and you’re ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge—but I might point out that one age range is conspicuously absent from this debate: the teenage years.
Perhaps you’re chuckling right about now. Or maybe you’re groaning, rolling your eyes, and thinking, “What do high school kids know about launching and running businesses?”
You’re not alone in thinking this way. Even when faced with examples of incredibly successful entrepreneurs who started their billion-dollar businesses during their college years or after dropping out of college—think Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs—many remain skeptical about high school students and their entrepreneurial capabilities.
But because of a confluence of factors—the pace of technological change, the ever-lowering barriers to entry of starting a company, and the natural curiosity and boundary-pushing mindset inherent in this age group—today’s teenagers have the potential to create world-changing businesses.
It’s no secret that this generation of young people is technologically savvy. Today’s teens have grown up with the Internet. They don’t know a world without Google and Facebook; they don’t remember a time when people didn’t go around carrying Internet-enabled devices in their pockets.
In light of their ease with technology, they are in a prime position to spot opportunities for products and services that will improve people’s lives. Teens are also better equipped to execute on their ideas because of their innate facility with modern tools and equipment. Many teens already know how to do basic computer programming, how to code, and how to do 3D printing.
Read the rest of this article here.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SafeStart, a sobriety testing system that uses infrared sensors to check blood alcohol levels, helps prevent drunk drivers from getting on the road. Bulkr, an online platform, allows customers to buy high-quality organic food in bulk directly from local farms with little to no markup. Dropwise, which provides tools to monitor water usage, helps customers save thousands of gallons of water per year and hundreds of dollars on their annual bills.
These are just a few of the companies created by high school students—yes, high school students—through MIT Launch, which offers two month-long summer entrepreneurship program that became part of the MIT entrepreneurial ecosystem two years ago. Since its debut in 2012 —the program, formerly known as Launch, officially joined the MIT entrepreneurial ecosystem last year—MIT Launch has helped hundreds of teens from all over the world to start and grow a total of 70 companies. MIT Launch pitch their business ideas Friday, August 5, 2016 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at theMIT Sloan School of Management.
"Our goal is to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs by giving high school students both robust entrepreneurship training and a real opportunity to try their hands at starting a business," says Laurie Stach, the founder and director of MIT Launch.
Read the rest of this article here
Neither of my parents have started companies.
I went to college and graduate school in their entirety without dropping out.
I don’t have a lot of money (nor access to much).
And yet - I am an entrepreneur.
The truth is, the majority of entrepreneurs are more similar to me than to their opposite. Society and media have chosen a few outliers to these standards and made them so much larger than life, that it has now clouded our vision of who can be an entrepreneur and what an entrepreneur should be.
So let’s have a look at some of this “common knowledge” that is nothing more than myth:
If you were hiring someone for your company, or looking for a co-founder, which one of the following two hypothetical people would you prefer:
Most hiring managers and entrepreneurs prefer the second person – someone with a “spike” aligned with their field. Individuals are professionally admirable when they develop some experience and expertise in a specific area, and bring clear skills to the workplace. The challenge of this, though, is having the self-awareness and insight to know and fearlessly pursue an interest area. Previous posts on the creative process can be helpful in thinking through some potential industries and functions that might be of interest.
Unfortunately, what most people do is to be overly concerned with any potential areas of weakness, spending a little bit of time across a lot of things to hedge their potential future options. They join several disparate clubs and gain a little bit of skill in lots of areas. While this might yield someone who is more “well-rounded,” it will only be with moderate skills. And sadly, the people who choose this option tend to be the ones most concerned with how their resume will look to admissions committees and hiring managers.
There’s not a perfect path to developing the right skills to be the ideal candidate for any college or job. Though keep this in mind – you will be more sought after for your exceptional skills and talents than for being average in everything. Certainly, one shouldn’t allow their weaknesses to be a hindrance, but they shouldn’t become the sole focus of one’s development. It’s far more fun and impressive to become phenomenal in one or two areas. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and pursue your passions!
Bold claim – starting a company will make you more successful. But don’t most companies fail, especially for first time entrepreneurs? So how does likely becoming a failure set you up to be successful?
True – odds are that the first thing you start won’t be a smashing success, but second time entrepreneurs have a MUCH higher likelihood of success. And this boost is made even greater with the right resources, training, and support throughout.
Think back to the first time you can remember doing something foolish. For me, it was building a double-decker go-kart with my brother when I was in early years of elementary school. Anyone with some experience in physics would know this to be a terrible idea, and sure enough, I went flying off the second story as we went around the first turn. Were all those hours of work designing, finding materials, building, and painting worthless? Absolutely not! I had a first-hand understanding of important concepts in physics, and went on to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and work a few years later at BMW’s design studio, DesignWorks, in California.
But I didn’t know when I was so young that I wanted to study engineering, or that I would love cars and want to design them. And chances are, my high school student readers don’t have a resolute image of their future success. What’s more, even if they do, success is different things to different people, so how can we best prepare?