Classes 5-7 of 30 Recap: MIT Sloan Classes and Reunion Weekend

June 10th, 2014

MIT Sloan - 100 Years of Course XV at MIT

MIT Sloan – 100 Years of Course XV at MIT

So I did double duty again on Thursday and wrapped up the week on Friday in the 30 Classes in 30 Days Challenge so I could have the rest of the weekend to spend with my many former classmates who traveled from all over the world to celebrate our five-year class reunion and the 100th anniversary of MIT Sloan.

As part of the weekend, MIT Sloan was conveniently offering several workshops for me to take advantage of. This was also my first chance to take a class in the brand new E-62 building, which I watched being constructed during my two-year tenure.

Great advice from the school's namesake

Great advice from the school’s namesake

Class #5: Action Learning Labs- Bringing Theory to Life

The rate of learning must exceed the rate of change, a big reason for Action Learning Labs

The rate of learning must exceed the rate of change, a big reason for Action Learning Labs

This session was mainly to go over the many lab and experience based classes offered to MIT Sloan students. After all, the MIT motto is “mens et manus” which means “mind and hand.”

I participated in G-Lab (Global Entrepreneurship Lab) in 2008-2009 and had the privilege to do a project for ESPN do Brasil where I worked with my team for the Fall semester and traveled to Brazil for on-site work during the month of January. This was also the main reason I chose MIT Sloan for business school because the learning is a nice balance of experiential, theory and the case method (which is overweighted at many comparable schools).

During the class, we even went through a case study on a recent S-Lab (Sustainability Lab) project completed by a team of students for a village in India where the women of the village were selling heating stoves and the associated fuel pellets. Throughout the project, the students were faced with many challenges that spanned technology, culture, operations, and supply chain.

Class #6: Executive Education Workshop- Modeling Choice with Limited Data

Vivek Farias explaining how Ford models inventory choices

Vivek Farias explaining how Ford models inventory choices

This class was especially exciting for me as I had heard what a high energy professor Vivek Farias was during class, and I was not disappointed.

In this session he went through why modeling choice is so complex and difficult but that it is possible to simplify complex problems down to where it can be reliably modeled.  He went through several examples that included:

    • How Ford determines which combinations of models, colors, and features to include in dealership inventories to optimize revenue
    • How to match kidney donors with those who need kidneys and are on the waiting list for a transplant
    • How services like Netflix, Amazon and Yelp use collaborative filters to make product recommendations by harvesting and learning from comparisons (“if you liked this then you will also like these other things”)

I found this class incredibly useful and plan to reach out as Allclasses progresses because we will need to create the same recommendation engine for class recommendations that he described in this class.

Class #7: Alumni Workshop- Everyone Wants to Sell Their Startup

This class was awesome because my co-founder was the one teaching the class, which meant ample opportunities for heckling from the peanut gallery.  As it turns out, nobody present wanted to know about how to sell their startup, but everyone wanted to know how to raise capital.

Why? Because raising capital is a giant pain in the ass. Every minute you are out raising money is a minute you are not spending on your product or service. It is hard, plain and simple.  Consider yourself lucky if you are able to raise capital and even luckier if you are ever in the position to sell later down the line.

Steve is an expert on the subject considering he has raised money multiple times for multiple companies, and he sat on the other side of the table as a VC for several years as well.

Some key takeaways from the class were:

    • Raising money is frustrating. There are a lot of bad actors out there, and you need to be able to find the good ones.
    • Everyone gets ‘no’s, so get the first one out of the way, get used to it, and deepen your resolve to get to ‘yes’
    • How funds operate (investment pace, reserve capital, lifespan, follow-on) and types of firms (seed, angels, syndicates, series A, etc)
    • East coast vs west coast fundraising (much easier out west)
    • How to architect your pitch deck and the art of selling yourself
    • Spotting real interest from VCs versus the pseudo ‘yes’ or non-interest
    • Now that you have a term sheet, how the deal is architected

Overall, Steve did a great job, and I have witnessed him doing this process firsthand along with several other classmates who have been successful raising startup funding.

That is all for now! I have been through day one of my Instagram marketing class, so I am going to hold off on the recap until it has completed.

Thanks to everyone from the class of 2009 who made it to Boston this weekend! It was great catching up with everyone and hearing about all the successes over the past five years!

2009 Reunion Class Photo

MIT Sloan School of Management MBA class of 2009