StartMIT: Empowering Innovation and Entrepreneurship

StartMIT: Empowering Innovation and Entrepreneurship


In many ways, MIT
gives you hope, sustains the hope that
brilliance and hard work can actually, really
change the world for huge numbers of people. One of the biggest
impact– and I don’t want anyone to forget–
the power of the network. I met my business partners
at MIT and many other people in my network. And you want to use
this opportunity while you’re at MIT to
meet the professors, meet other people that
are in your field, because you never know
where people will end up. When we started
iRobot, we wanted to do robots for space, the
first robot steps on the moon. What big company would
want to sponsor that? Particularly in the
beginning, really when you are raising
funding, it’s a promise. Basically, people don’t see
much of what you’re promising. You’re promising
something in the future, so it’s really
about your ability to convince the
person in front of you that that promise
can be delivered. The number-one reason people
I think people gave me money earlier on was because of
who I was– my background. I always got to
say I went to MIT, which obviously always helped. All four of you are
very confident women who clearly have put
a lot of pressure on yourselves to succeed. How do you stay confident? I think if you just love what
you do and just go for it. That’s what I do. If you think you
can have one mentor, and that’s going
to be sufficient, you’re just– close the door. It’s over. You’ve got to be able to
talk to different people to get different
kinds of perspectives. I’ve always ran towards
people who inspired me. Wherever that was, coming
to an institution like this, just whatever I did
with work, I went towards people
who challenged me, made me want to think bigger. I always think about
being an entrepreneur and an innovative-minded
individual as you just can’t hear the nos. You just can’t hear them. It’s like someone says,
no, it’s like, oh, I was talking to
the wrong person. Who’s going to say yes? When Barbara McClintock won the
Nobel Prize, she was, like, 81. And she had been treated
as, like, a witch. Because when everyone else was
saying that DNA was stable, she was saying that
DNA rearranged. And so she was, like,
way on the periphery. And so she won the Nobel Prize,
and all these reporters were gathering around, and they said,
well, weren’t you really mad? Aren’t you really angry that
they didn’t know this, that you didn’t get recognition sooner? And she said, hold on. You don’t understand. When you know you’re
right, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. The workshop
provides the students a framework to explore the
concepts of entrepreneurship and move their ideas forward. We had a terrific panel on
entrepreneurship paths, which highlighted that you can
be an entrepreneur starting a company, joining a startup, or
innovating in a large company, or being involved
in a non-profit. That’s sort of what you want
when you have a startup. You want a designer,
you want an engineer, and you want these people
to be able to work together. Thank you very much for being
such a welcoming community. I mean, it’s just
been a pleasure.

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