Written By: Brandon Black
Accelerate’s HotSeat event on November 13th allowed the opportunity for student teams to pitch and present the ideas they have put so much effort into in an informal question and answer session as part of the Startup Challenge. For many, this was their first time receiving feedback from folks outside of the Wentworth circle. These early-stage ideas and prototypes were to be made stronger through the feedback of the mentors who attended the event.
Just under 20 startup teams participated in HotSeat filling the entire makerspace at Accelerate located in the new CEIS building. These teams had ideas ranging from a phone application that optimizes communication and satisfaction between a manager, field worker, and a customer (Organized Service Manager), all the way to a protective sleeve to reduce skin irritation for infants suffering from a serious disorder (Cranial Care).
Kyle Desjardins (BSAM ‘23) of Novance, a social media app that brings together investors and entrepreneurs in a more efficient way, thoroughly appreciated what HotSeat had to offer for him. He explained, “It is one thing to work on an idea, but to get genuine, constructive feedback is what truly gets the ideas rolling. With the number of people who showed up, students, faculty and outsiders, it made the experience very meaningful.” Constructive feedback can often be perceived as negative but when properly received, it can help out tremendously.
Devang Patel (BSAM ‘22) of cartReUse, affordable and green motorized carts to make living in the city easier was able to take the feedback his team received positively. “Not only did we get some valuable information, but we also got positive sentiment back on our idea and it really motivated us to work harder.” Hearing people with immense knowledge in their field tell you that your idea has legitimate potential provides an enormous boost of confidence moving forward.
HotSeat also intentionally prepares students for Pitch Round, the final Accelerate event of the semester. Cathleen Hallinan (BBME ‘21) of Cranial Care, a protective sleeve to reduce skin irritation for infants with plagiocephaly, uses HotSeat to notice trends. She mentions, “My favorite aspect of HotSeats’ are that you get to really know what your audience is looking for and how they receive your idea. I always know if many people ask the same question, I either need to include it in my pitch or rephrase what I am saying. I love the feedback I get from people. They ask challenging but fair questions. Overall, I think HotSeat boosted my confidence because I get to prove to myself that I really do know what I am doing.”
Next up for these teams is the aforementioned Pitch Round on December 4th. Teams will have five minutes to pitch their idea to a room full of their peers and a panel of expert judges. At the end of the night, the judges will vote to determine who walks away with funding to put towards their businesses. The feedback from HotSeat has the potential to make or break a team’s likelihood of obtaining funding.