Idea Generation: From Hugs to Commuter Therapy

by John Capacelatro Filled with standups, speakers, coffee, and pitches, the first few days of the Startup Institute Boston are officially over. The students arrived to an intense first day orientation, and quickly hit the ground running with several workshops dedicated to agile and lean methodologies taught by Abby Fichtner and Mark Chang.

Students began by individually pitching their ideas to the whole group, and then the seventy or so students were broken into groups of five and assigned an idea that had been voted through to the next round. They then spent the rest of the day in these teams, fleshing out the initial stages of a minimum viable product (MVP) and putting together a list of action steps to work on over the weekend. In reflection, there were several key learning points that became apparent over the course of the first few days.

Be comfortable. Big groups aren’t (too) scary. The exercise forced students across all tracks to come up with an idea in thirty minutes and then pitch the idea to the entire class. In the span of 40 minutes, over seventy pitches were heard. While some may not have been comfortable speaking in front of such a large group beforehand, they had to quickly adapt and learn to express their ideas in a concise, yet compelling manner.

How to brainstorm. Once broken into teams, the students spent the rest of their time developing their ideas, staying far past the end of the official class day. Some teams quickly leaped to the whiteboards and forming intimate circles around a “group leader.” Others eschewed markers for notepads, and headed outside to exercise their creative energy. And still other teams further subdivided their members for a more expansive brainstorming session, and reunited later on for an in-depth discussion. The key takeaway was to find what works best for you and your team, and seek to act quickly. But don’t be afraid to adapt as you move forward.

Flexibility is key. Even though you might think your idea for an AirBnB for animals is awesome, it might not necessarily be indicative of what the larger group thinks the best idea to move forward with is. Flexibility must be a part of this understanding curve. You need to be willing to adjust your idea or even drop it entirely.

This week marks the official beginning of our in-track curriculum (product and design, web development, technical marketing, and sales and business development). SIB students will use the material they have learned this week and apply it to their ideas, as they continue to work towards a “demo day” this Friday.