Hindsight: Successes and Mistakes

Everyone who attended TEDxBU “Students Startup America” said is was great – informative and inspirational. However, as an organizer I could tell you everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. The 150 attendees witnessed a sliver of the chaos, but luckily our strong lineup of speakers saved the day.

Looking back, I now understand SO much more about what it takes for an event like this to be successful. The three things I wish I had done a better job on were:

  1. More central location – The engineering building was a great location, but it did not attract as large a range of students as we had intended. The venue I picked was not common knowledge among the BU student population. Next time, the Entrepreneurship Club will check out a larger and more central location.
  2. Start with a bigger team – I cannot stress this enough. I wish I had reruited more team members early on. We had 3 very talented people on our team, but the workload was still too large for us to execute it effectively. I wish I had recruited 6 people.
  3. Raise more money – Having seen the costs associated with this project firsthand, I would like to raise much more funding for the next event. This would allow me a better venue, more food, and a better technical staff.

Despite having been warned about these pitfalls during training, there is nothing like experiencing them firsthand to really understand them.

On a positive note, there has been support at BU for sending me and perhaps one other student to a TED Talk so that our next TEDxBU can be larger and more influential. Very exciting!

– Joseph McMahon, Boston University

BU eClub is raising up a storm

The Boston University eClub really has its act together. I met with president Max Veggeburg to discuss TEDxBU “Students Startup America” and he was all for it. He and other eClub board members have organized the Boston Startup Weekend, to be hosted at BU! For a small fee, students spend the weekend meeting influential entrepreneurs and working in teams to push a product towards market. Any full time Boston student can pay $25 for 7 meals and a 54 hour crash course in entrepreneurship.

Check it out: http://boston.startupweekend.org/

Aside from that, there are plenty of opportunies hosted by the club to learn and grow. Last night I met with CampusLive.com COO over pizza to discuss VC funding. There I ran into several underclassmen who are ready to start their own businesses and were eagerly taking notes. Before I knew it, Ryan Durkins and I were talking about a mutual friend and are scheduled for dinner Friday night. I cannot express the amount of opportunity there is for entrepreneurs here.

There is also a talk this Thursday: “10 Mistakes First-Time Founders Make, But Don’t Have To”. Highland Capital’s Alexander Taussig will be speaking. What a fantastic chance for Boston students to learn.

The other remarkable thing about the BU eClub is the amount of interconnectivity they have with other similiar student organizations: the Graduate Entrepreneur’s Club, Engineering Entrepreneur’s Club, etc. The advisors to the eClub are known far and wide and they are constantly hosting great events.

I have noticed, however, there is little to no attention paid to businesses and technologies with social impact. The more I talk about NCIIA grants, the more eyebrows I see being raised. Before we know it, the NCIIA will be well intertwined with BU and its brilliant student organizations.


Joe McMahon – NCIIA BU Student Ambassador

Boston University – Working with other Event Organizers

First things first, you need a team to make your event happen. In a city like Boston, students looking to break into the entrepreneurial world are very willing to lend a hand. Sometimes they have a commercially successful graduate student in mind, sometimes they are excited by your event and want to help, other times they will know someone else looking for help with their event.

After you speak with the graduate students to get them to show off their start up and after you rally a few students to help you out, it is vital to seek out other events that are taking place in your area. People running these events are helpful and knowledgeable. If you lend them a hand, they will return the favor. Maybe they know of a good location for your 100 person event, maybe they know where you can get discounted name tags, and in all likelihood, they will leverage their network for you. Both of you can have successful events by helping each other make them happen.

Here are my top four most important questions to ask other event coordinators:

  • Here are my skills and resources. How can I help?
  • What do our events have in common? How are they different?
  • Is your event before mine? Can I advertise at your event?
  • Who is sponsoring your event? Who might sponsor mine?
Getting these questions answered is crucial because you cannot devote all of your time towards an empty investment. As much as you may like the person you are helping, you are still a student, you may have a job, and you still have your own event to plan.
Remember – experienced event organizers have been through this before. They are the most helpful people when it comes to hosting your own event.
Joseph McMahon at Boston University

Technology Entrepreneurship Across the Nation!


Congratulations to each of the thirteen new NCIIA Student Ambassadors from across the nation for the 2011 – 2012 school year.  These Student Ambassadors will serve as advocates  for NCIIA, driving the mission of the organization.  For more information on NCIIA, view the website at www.nciia.org.

This blog will serve as an opportunity for Student Ambassadors to highlight entrepreneurial activities on campuses and provide insight to resources that students can leverage.  Increased collaboration between campuses will lead to a greater impact in furthering the NCIIA mission.