Once this year’s IgniteU NY summer program came to a close, we sat down with our two interns, Richard and Jason, to learn about their key takeaways from their experience this summer. During the 12-week program, interns get to experience firsthand what it’s like to be a startup in our accelerator program. Richard and Jason were each paired up with a company and served as the constant link between the startup and the IgniteU lead mentor. In addition to helping the startups with their development throughout the program, Richard and Jason assisted Elyssa with program events. Here’s what they had to say.
Overall, what was your biggest takeaway from this internship?
Jason: I learned that the people in your company are one of the most important aspects of the business. You can have a great idea, but without being dedicated and determined, you will never be successful. “Success” is not measured by the success of the venture but by the growth of the entrepreneur.
Richard: Learning to fail is a big part of being successful. Entrepreneurs that have never failed have never taken a big enough risk. Going out of your comfort zone will help you and your business grow much faster than playing it safe. Founders should not see failure as a terminating event but as an opportunity to pivot and grow. By embracing failure, you are able to be dynamic and face any challenge that comes your way.
What was the most surprising thing about your experience at IgniteU?
Jason: Success often doesn’t stem from the very first idea. If startups do the proper customer discovery and market research, they will often realize that they did not know the market as well as they thought they did. It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand that even though they could have a great idea, if people don’t have a need for it, then they won’t pay for it.
Richard: I was surprised to see the amount of collaboration between the different teams in our cohort. I’ve helped run other entrepreneurship programs, but never have I seen other participants so willing to help each other succeed. The environment that IgniteU has created really promoted collaboration and fostered the growth of these teams.
What was your favorite part about working with your teams?
Jason: I watched these teams grow through both success and failure. They pushed their ideas and themselves to their limits so they could move forward with their idea or move on to a new one. The teams learned from every mistake they made and used them as building blocks to grow. With these ideas, I watched as they were able to both pivot and enhance their ideas to finally reach success in the program.
Richard: The teams came into the program with great ideas but not many resources to help themselves grow. After meeting their mentors and learning the tools presented to them, they really started to build on their idea. It was very fulfilling to be able to add value to these teams and help them grow, both as a team and as individuals.
What was your favorite IgniteU event this summer?
Richard: Halfway Pitch Day was one of my favorites. It was very valuable for the teams and helped them grow tremendously. Teams were able to pitch their idea to a select audience of successful entrepreneurs and mentors that provided them with actionable feedback. It was great to see the teams take the feedback and improve upon their ideas. Halfway Pitch Day was also impactful for me because it was one of the first events that I was able to plan for the program. It allowed me to gain valuable event planning skills and pushed me beyond my comfort zone.
Jason: I really enjoyed the Startup Showcase, which gave the teams the opportunity to show off the progress they have accomplished this summer. It was memorable for me because I had seen the teams grow and pivot over the course of the summer, and many of them were nowhere near where they started at the beginning of the program. This event provided them the opportunity to showcase their company to a public audience, which is great for early-on startups to get that kind of exposure. The teams were prepared for questions and sold their ideas to the audience. Compared to the first pitch, this event demonstrated how this program helps the teams develop and polish their ideas over the nine weeks.