I have to admit I’ve associated incubators and accelerators with technologists and with schools like MIT or investors like Y-Combinator. But I recently came across s short mention of Emerson Launch, Emerson College’s accelerator. If you don’t know Emerson College it’s not a sci-tech university like MIT or CMU, quite the contrary, its focus is on communications, visual, media and performing arts, writing, literature and publishing. Its notable alumni include Jay Leno, Denis Leary, Andrea Martin, and Steven Wright – all favorites of mine.
On a whim I emailed Cathy Waters, the director of Emerson Launch, asking if there were any mentoring positions available. I was pleased to hear back very quickly. It turns out her husband is like me an MIT VMS mentor. I hope to visit her on campus soon.
These days accelerators are more common at schools with a science, tech or engineering focus, but Emerson, with its film school and heavy emphasis on the arts and communication is providing skills that complement start-ups. Public speaking and articulation classes have long been a cornerstone of Emerson’s curriculum across all majors, giving students the confidence to make an elevator pitch, for example.
As per usual in accelerators, mentorship plays its part:
Students pitch their ideas to an Executive Board made up of three alumni, a mix of entrepreneurs and VC’s. Once admitted, they’re given workspace, funding, mentorship and the ability to establish their businesses well before they graduate, but startups must re-apply to qualify for the second year. It’s the fail fast model – ensuring entrepreneurs are progressing and allowing for a revamp of plans if necessary.
Emerson makes good use of its alumni network to supplement the Emerson Launch program:
Emerson’s alumni network, Wachs points out, dominate the fields of media, PR, marketing and film, creating a complementary internal and external network that’s so tight, it’s jokingly referred to as the Emerson Mafia.
Read the full story to see how Emerson’s entrepreneurial programs helped two students found Bistara, the world’s first college freelance marketplace.
I’m looking forward to learning more about Emerson Launch and perhaps contributing myself as a mentor.