Emerson Launch presents entrepreneurial program for student innovators

Emerson Launch announced a new 12-week entrepreneurial program for students interested in starting their own companies at an open house event Oct. 17.

The Accelerator Program will consist of two tracks—the Alexa Innovation Fellowship and the Entrepreneurship Innovation Track—and will begin with 10 selected companies spring 2019.

“The whole thesis for the Accelerator [Program] is that you start in January with just an idea, and you go through the semester working with us, and at the end of the semester you actually have the start of a company,” Emerson Launch Director Sanjay Pothen said. 

The Entrepreneurial Innovation Track provides funding, space, and mentorship to students with a concept in hopes of evolving their ideas into sustainable companies. The Alexa Innovation Fellowship offers funding, Alexa devices, hardware kits, and regular training for selected student projects. Emerson Launch, with three staff members and nine mentors, is one of 10 programs worldwide to participate in the Alexa Fund Innovation Fellowship.

“We have a whole wealth of mentors, and they are all connected to Emerson, but they are not all Emerson grads [or] alumni,” Pothen said. “They’re people who basically believe in our mission and our school’s vision for next-generation storytellers and next-generation marketers.”

Emerson Launch will post a one-page application for the program online at the end of October. All students can apply, and the program allows co-founders. Emerson Launch will announce five selected startups for each track in January.  

Pothen said he decided to provide a more structured environment for students in the Accelerator Program after listening to feedback from students who participated with Emerson Launch before. The free bi-weekly meetings offer formal teaching and time for students to work on their projects according to Pothen.

The open house also featured a discussion panel with two Emerson Launch students Breakthrough Energy Investors Manager Bhargavi Chevva, and Co-Founder of Nineteenth Amendment Amanda Curtis. About 20 students and Emerson faculty attended the event.

Boston University graduate Curtis and Harvard University graduate Chevvawork as businesswomen in the Greater Boston area.

“My first business was in the third grade selling caterpillars, and I made a $50 profit,” Curtis said. “It’s pretty good for a third grader. But I always knew I wanted my own business.”

Junior Taelon Ratliff, the founder of Wild Wasteland, an Easter egg website, worked with Emerson Launch on his website for the past three years. Ratliff previously contacted Emerson business professors for advice until he discovered Emerson Launch. Ratliff’s website will officially launch this January.

“Emerson Launch is a great facilitator, and they got me in touch with lawyers and with business people, and all their friends and colleagues,” Ratliff said. “It was a great networking thing because I would have never known that we’d had all these resources if I didn’t ask.”

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