Boulder Startup Trek

On January 25th, ten Sloanies in the E&I Club touched down in Colorado to kick off the second annual E&I Club Boulder Startup trek.  The trek started last year at the behest of Brad Feld (MIT ’87), co-founder of the Foundry Group and Techstars, as a way to build a pipeline of talent from Sloan to Boulder.

An opportunity to visit a budding startup community in one of the most beautiful areas of the country as a precursor to the annual Sloan Breckenridge Ski Trip?? Sign us up!!

Over the course of three days, we visited representative companies of that ecosystem: 8 companies in all that ran the gamut from a boot-strapped team of 10 to a pre-IPO company of 500, consumer devices to enterprise security, and accelerators to traditional VCs.   We kicked off the trek at PivotDesk, an online marketplace matching startups that need office space with companies that have extra, and we couldn’t have picked a better company to start our conversations with.  We met with David Mandell, its founder, a serial entrepreneur and respected mentor within the Boulder startup community.  Yes, he told us about PivotDesk and how it got to where it is, which itself is a great story. But perhaps more valuably, he told us his own story, which is inextricably intertwined with that of the Boulder startup scene, and what he believes are the necessary ingredients to become a great founder and CEO.  We’d tell you what that is, but then we’d have lost our competitive advantage.

The talk provided a great frame of reference for what the Boulder startup scene is all about; from there we were able to dig deeper and see different angles with each company we visited. With that said, the theme of the week was without a doubt, collaboration.  As a David said, an early rule to joining the community was that there are “No A**holes Allowed in Boulder”  – an ethos echoed by each company we visited.  There was a universal feeling of mutual respect amongst all of the founders and teams, with some of the more experienced ones taking it upon themselves to mentor the newcomers.

Of course, we left time in our schedule to explore a few other booming industries in Boulder.  We visited several of the amazing micro-breweries that Colorado has to offer and sampled the beer of many others.  Some of us even found time to hike through the Flatirons or take a jaunt through the Rocky Mountain National Park. All said, this was an amazing trek and we would like to extend our thanks to all of our hosts Foundry Group, TechStars, PivotDesk, JumpCloud, SOVRN, Rachio, Haven, and Sphero for welcoming us with open arms into this special community.


-Burton Woodhull, Trek Organizer (MBA ’17)

Monthly Ideas Open Mic Night Kickoff on November 19th

Six entrepreneurs.

Five minutes of pitching + Q&A.

Four feedback criteria.

Three co-hosts (E&I Club, Martin Trust Center of Entrepreneurship, VCPE Club)

Two slices of pizza.

One amazing night.

On November 19th, E&I Club co-hosted the first monthly Ideas Open Mic Night at the Martin Trust Center – an opportunity to turn your startup ideas into reality and to encourage greater idea sharing and cross-pollination for MIT students. There were representatives from CSAIL, MBA, MechE and many more.

Looking forward to seeing you next month for the second edition!

E&I Club Visits MassChallenge


E&I Club “lifting art” in support of MassChallenge 2014 Finalist ArtLifting (co-founded by Spencer Powers, Sloan MBA 2016)

On November 18th, E&I Club visited MassChallenge, where we learned about the history and expansion plans for MassChallenge from Robby Bitting (Director of Marketing, MassChallenge). We also got a first hand view of the program from three Sloan alumni startups: Spoiler Alert, TVision Insights and ArtLifting. It was informative and refreshing to get outside of the Sloan bubble to see what’s happening across the river.

Speaking of MassChallenge, congratulations to E&I Club alums Ricky Ashenfelter (’15) and Emily Malina (’15) from Spolier Alert, and Dan Schiffman (’15) and Yan Liu (’15) from TVision Insights for taking home the Gold Winner Award from the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony earlier this month!

E&I Club Officers Kickoff Party

E&I Club isn’t all work. When our officers aren’t launching companies, supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem or generally being awesome, we love to come together for cocktails and conversation. Cheers to an amazing team and thank you again for all your hard work! You are truly the heart and soul of the E&I Club:

  • Treks: VP: Evan Klein
    • Directors: Lisa Conn, Louis Coppey, Jessica Kaiser, Ron Marconet
  • Events:
    • Directors: Shai Ben Nun, Eileen Parra, Nick Del Vecchio, Bryan Halloy
  • Alumni & Startup Relations:
    • Directors: Ali Farahanchi, Ashley Fidel, Marie Chkaiban, Dennis Lally, Teddy Lee
  • Communications, Marketing, and Partnerships:
    • Directors: Nina Brentlinger, Noa Oron, Heitor Martins
  • Externships & Startup Recruitment: VP: Anesha Agarwal
    • Directors: Jillian Ardrey, Tad Rocha, Adam Mitchell, Swati Rao, Jennifer Lee, Lisa Tacoronte, Arturo Moreno



Supporting Sloanie Startup Guru Brad Feld

Latham & Watkins Lunchtime Event: Legal Issues for Startups: Opportunities and Pitfalls

On October 7th, E&I Club hosted Alex Lazar and Mike Bookman from Latham & Watkins LLP for their second “Legal Issues for Startups: Opportunities and Pitfalls” lunchtime event. Whether you’re trying to construct your first cap table or aren’t sure where to incorporate, every entrepreneur needs a good legal team behind it. Which is where Latham & Watkins come in.

Over lunch, Alex and Mike covered the key legal issues that startups face to a full room of budding entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts:

  • Determining when and where to incorporate the startup
  • Identifying and protecting the startup’s intellectual property
  • Building and aligning the team with the startup’s objectives
  • Preserving the equity of the startup, including a discussion on vesting
  • Seeking (early stage) financing and understanding key tax and valuation considerations
  • Working with investors and advisors



Thank you again to Latham & Watkins LLC for supporting the E&I Club community!


E&I Club hosts “Introduction to Search Funds” with Pacific Lake Partner Coley Andrews

Lately, we’ve heard whispers around the halls and in the cafeteria from students curious about what a search fund is and how to get involved. To shed light on this increasingly popular role, E&I Club was thrilled to host Coley Andrews, Co-Founder and Managing Member of Pacific Lake Partners, for a September 28th lunchtime event.

Coley walked the students through the economics of search funds, what it means to lead a fund, and how to get started.

All in all it was an incredibly informative event and one that got many wheels turning in the minds of our second year students. We can’t wait to see who pursues this new model!

Thank you again to Pacific Lake Partners for supporting the MIT Sloan E&I Club community!


E&I Club Visits Techstars Boston

On September 18th, 20 members of the MIT Sloan E&I Club visited the Boston offices of Techstars for a private tour of the office and discussion with Eveline Buchatskiy, Boston Techstars Managing Director.

In addition to learning about the Techstars program and the incredible impact it’s made on the local Boston startup ecosystem, we also had the privilege of hearing from the founders of two companies who had recently graduated from the summer 2015 class: Yegor Anchishkin (CEO and Founder, CartFresh) and Adam Blake (Co-Founder & COO, ThriveHive).

Yegor and Adam offered terrific advice for those eager to learn more about the MIT and local Boston startup community. First and foremost, it’s important to get involved and to stay proactive about attending events across the city. We were also thrilled to learn that Adam was the Co-President of the MIT Sloan E&I Club (MBA, 2011) a few years back. So inspiring to see club alumni making waves in the startup space!

Thank you again to Techstars for hosting the E&I Club!


-Alessandra Henderson (Co-President)

Silicon Valley Pitch Trek’s last stop: General Catalyst

Our last stop of the Trek was an icing on the cake. We felt very welcomed by Hemant Taneja (Managing Director), Katja Gagen (Vice President of Marketing), Steve Herrod (Managing Director), Prateek Alsi (Principal) and the whole General Catalyst team who received us on a happy hour.

Day 2 - GC HHDay 2 - GC HH2

Before the party started, nonetheless, we had entrepreneurs pitching, as well as Hemant Taneja, Prateek Alsi and Steve Herrod sharing a few thoughts about the “VC market” and the GC philosophy. They mentioned that VCs usually invest either in an ecosystem (of domain), or in great people and what moves them. The latter is more of their style. The GC team is very attentive to what caused the “genesis” of the companies. “We look for authentic stories,” noted Hemant Taneja.

And, as “it all comes down to people,” we will finish this year’s Silicon Valley Pitch Trek series of posts with what the GC team looks for in entrepreneurs:

– He/she is prepared to make hard decisions

– He/she has the complicity of the team

– He/she is resilient and has a good attitude

– He/she has a complementary team

Thank you very much to the General Catalyst team for having us in this last stop. It was helpful and fun! We hope to see you again next year!

Day 2 - GC

Written by Ana Avelar and Alessandra Henderson, Silicon Valley Pitch Trek team members

MIT Sloan entrepreneurs meet with Greylock Partners

In our last day of the Silicon Valley Pitch Trek we met with Jerry Chen (Partner) and Sarah Guo (Associate) at Greylock Partners. It was a short, but very productive meeting. Both offered keen, smart feedback to our entrepreneurs.

Jerry Chen shared with the entrepreneurs what signals to investors that the startup might be an interesting investment. A few of those factors are who are the board members, investors, founders, and who is the startup attracting from the market to be a team member.

If you are pitching to Greylock Partners, keep in mind that numbers matter. Sarah Guo, helped entrepreneurs understand different approaches to calculate their potential market and costs. According to her, one of the main questions to be answered is: “is the market big enough”? Another relevant piece of advice Sara Guo gave them was about evaluating the market’s current value chain: “who and what is your solution replacing”?

A Silicon Valley Pitch Track would not be complete without Greylock Partners. Thank you very much, Jerry Chen and Sarah Guo for hosting our entrepreneurs in this year’s edition.

Written by Ana Avelar and Alessandra Henderson, Silicon Valley Pitch Trek team members

MIT Sloan entrepreneurs meet with KPCB

The next stop on our last day of Silicon Valley Pitch Trek 2014 edition was at KPCB. We want to say a big thank you to Creighton Hicks (Partner), Anjney Midha (Partner), Andy Chen (Director), Cindy Cheng (Digital Team), Aviv Gilboa (University Relations) and team for such a warm welcome. In the most supportive Silicon Valley style, to every MIT student pitching, there was at least one contact that they could introduce him or her to.

KPCB is organized in three verticals: Digital (consumer and enterprise), Life Sciences and GreenTech. The team who received us was mostly engaged with Digital. As trends observed, they indicated to be interested in IoT and crypto currency related startups. Moreover, KPCB shared the word about their Fellow Program, which should open applications in a couple of months for Summer interns to work in their portfolio companies. Keep posted, Sloanies!

Besides the introductions to relevant contacts, KPCB’s team gave feedback to our entrepreneurs regarding the construction of the pitch. A selection of such were:

Clear go-to-market strategy: “what customers and segments will you target first”?

Adoption: state how you imagine the adoption of your product will be.

Exit or funding benchmark: whenever possible, show startups that exited your field of action, or competitors that received funding.

Competitive analysis: compare your features versus competitors’ to make your differentiators clear.

Customers’ pain-points: be clear about what are the pain-points you are solving to the customers.

Day 2 - KPCB

Thank you again KPCB for taking the time for hosting us, and for sharing valuable feedback and contacts with our entrepreneurs!

Written by Ana Avelar and Alessandra Henderson, Silicon Valley Pitch Trek team members