Life of FBi | Non-Tech Start-up Founder

Looks like a Chinaman, Sounds like an Aussie, Utterly Confusing

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What is the Open Gate Initiative?

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Skimming even just the titles of my posts, beside the fact I write a fortnightly column for College Mogul, and the fact I’m both a student at Babson College as well as a co-founder and CEO of Blank Label, it’s fairly evident that I strongly believe the reasons why students should consider venture creation as a very real possibility whilst in college, and that why the auxiliary parties need to do everything possible to support those pursuits. So outside of my life at Blank Label, my one big passionate pursuit is directly in this field. But I probably should have found something that didn’t try and overcome two of the most proven difficult to overcome hurdles.

Open Gate Initative is the project that I’ve co-founded with Evan Morikawa, co-founder and CEO of Alight Learning, whose mission is to provide a highly interactive, collaborative platform for Babson and Olin students who share the interest in venture creation. There are a couple of key words in this that I’d like to highlight. First, the focus on ‘interactive’ and ‘collaborative’ is incredibly important. We’re a generation of people who are entitled enough to care very little for the incredible speakers we have access to, instead finding it non-specific if we’re being spoken to with any audience size greater than a dozen. We don’t turn up to lectures, why would we turn up to hear someone else talk when we’re not getting credit for it. Sure there is some inspiration value in hearing talks, but the truly inspirational ones are really rare. The focus on OGI will really be to get people thinking creatively together. It’s the intellectual stimulation of problem solving, the shared opportunity identification, and outrageous fun that will get students really thinking  about venture creation. The other key word is ‘interest’. This is not the gateway for student entrepreneurs to be given more exclusive resources to make then high potential. Merely, for those with an interest which can be supported, catalyzed and encouraged.

Naturally the two biggest hurdles that OGI looks to overcome is i) creating a sustainable student organization and ii) bringing together the cultural differences of specialized business and engineering students. The first one is fairly obvious for those with any exposure to student organizations that go through roller-coaster cycles of good Presidents and bad ones, even more tumultuous than on the national level, that start with the best intentions and then just flop post the honeymoon period. The second is far more subtle, yet at the same time interesting to analyze. What we initially thought were fundamentally different approaches to venture creation between Babson students and Oliners we actually found to be show common traits of how traditional business people approached entrepreneurship as compared with creation-focused engineers.  I’ll go into the observations in depth another time, suffice it to say there is polarity on a few different spectrums.

As OGI is rolled out in the coming weeks, I’ll keep everyone posted on how we execute and plan on overcoming said challenges, what the response and effectiveness is, and what lessons can be shared with other schools looking to cross-pollinate or that are multi-disciplinary.

Music whilst writing this post: Macy Gray Radio Station on Pandora

Written by Fan Bi

August 17, 2009 at 9:35 am

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