A Melting Pot of Courage and Grit

A Reflection on the Experiences of Class 4 of the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

By Sally Coldrick and Rachel Hentsch from InfinityFoundry

Mark Twain once said, “Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Taking a leap of faith starts with courage, but moving on requires true grit. That is just what 74 people, from 35 countries, did at MIT last month.

It takes courage to embrace the unknown, to face and overcome the organisational obstacles of turning a plan into reality, to travel far and wide across the globe to go mingle, team up and work with total strangers, to build a company with them in less than a week. But that is only the first part: you reach MIT but are far from being “there” yet. The ride has only just begun.

As the Bootcamp experience relentlessly races on, true grit must kick in. The explosive combination of circumstance, fatigue and tension pits its participants against one another in an extreme test of endurance, resilience and character. This time, in our privileged position as Teaching Assistants and observers from “outside the fish-bowl”, we perceived the full blast of how the Bootcamp gradually and literally takes the individual apart, to a point that seems of no return. And then we watched each student be reborn from a hopeless, desperate and delirious bundle of raw nerves, to suddenly blossom into their own new potential. The breathtaking flow of teamwork perfection on the last day was a truly sensational and mind-boggling experience.

Class 4 cohort with Teachers and Alumni returning for Teacher Training Bootcamp

Our seasoned readers are probably already familiar with our narrations of Bootcamp Class 3 in Seoul, South Korea, in our mini-series “From MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp to Infinity and Beyond” Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. As for the Class 4 Bootcamp experience in Cambridge, MA, we need not reinvent the wheel and wish to point you directly to Mark Ridley’s excellent diaries. Mark deserves an ‘MIT Oscar’ for setting the scene, telling it as it is, for his accuracy in character depiction, the visual effects — all recounted with delightful flair and tickling humour. Mark Ridley’s collection is the must-read series of the MIT Entrepreneurship Bootcamp August 2016 season.

The Symmetry ‘sex-toy’ Team won 2nd place on Demo Day

Never underestimate the value of supporting each other.

On a visit to HubSpot to conduct market research, we discovered another gem of a quote. “Success is making those who believed in you look BRILLIANT”, Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot Co-founder and MIT Alum. This captures the ethos of the community but we’d take it one step further, “Success is making those you believe in FEEL brilliant, regardless of what is being thrown at them”. In moments of physical or mental lows, people during Bootcamp helped one another — those who had and hadn’t slept — in spontaneous and improvised spurts of empathy and collaboration, similar to an auto-nurturing, self-sustaining and self-healing organic system. We fondly recall impromptu requests for individual pep-talks, team dance sessions, collective-play moments, and the shuffling of camping beds, from room to room in the MIT Sloan School of Management building (so that team-mates could take power-naps), and the sharing of blankets brought in by MIT Senior Lecturer (and carer of all carers), Elaine Chen.

The Power of the Pack

To the final day now. Shortly after declaring that we were ALL winners, Bill Aulet wrapped up the last MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp event for 2016, and poignantly reminded us of Rudyard Kipling’s famous phrase:

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” Rudyard Kipling
Harness the power of your pack.

We are keeping in close contact with many of our fellow-Bootcampers, from the recent class as well as previous ones, whilst we progress with InfinityFoundry’s mission to build a Global Community of Makers, Innovators and Entrepreneurs. The stories we hear every day continue to inspire us, and sharing them on has a multiplier effect of inspiration and motivation. Paving your own course in life can be lonely and as humans we are hard-wired to need a supportive eco-system. The support being given to members of the community is heartwarming in the deepest sense, and incredibly powerful. This is a global movement in anti-fragility make no mistake about it, and it is reaching across to the farthest parts of the globe.

Fruit trees will… yield fruit

So what are the Class 3 and Class 4 people up to now? Many, charged with a renewed sense of self-belief and empowered by a new, supportive global network, have taken the bull by the horns and extricated themselves from old patterns that were holding them back — unsatisfying jobs, irrelevant study. Many are sharing their stories to help inspire others. Nidhi Sharma is in the process of writing a book that captures the experiences of Bootcampers, ‘It starts with courage.’ Suryasree Roychowdhury is writing a blog series: you can read ‘A journey from edX to MIT’ here. And we are working closely with Anders Røpke on an exciting project that we will announce in a few weeks.

Creating an environment for growth inevitably will generate exponential opportunities for yet further growth as the seeds start to multiply. Worthy of note is the addition of the Entrepreneurship Teacher Training program, run for the first time in 2015, and instigated by the remarkable Renee Rock (Class 1 Alumna). This extraordinary ‘Teaching’ program is what took us both to Boston, and the reason why we ran a crowdfunding campaign (because after getting over the hardest part, being accepted into the program, we were NOT going to accept missing out!).

The MIT Bootcamp is working to expand its global footprint: their brand new website now includes not only Entrepreneurship Bootcamps but also the next evolution of the Bootcamp program — The Internet of Things.

Introducing the new Bootcamp Landing Page

Are you reading this and interested in learning more about MIT Bootcamps? Or know someone else who may be? Visit: http://bootcamp.mit.edu/

To read more stories like this and to be one of the first to know when the dates for the new MIT Global Bootcamp are announced visit: www.infinityfoundry.com — to join a Global Community of Makers, Innovators and Entrepreneurs.