Inside the YEI Fellowship: Q&A with Mental Canvas
As an ongoing series this summer on the YEI Blog, we asked the summer fellowship teams to answer a few questions about their experiences starting their ventures. This Q&A is with YEI venture Mental Canvas, a software that enables designers to explore unfinished ideas built from sketches and photographs arranged in a coherent, lightweight 3D environment. The fellowship team comprises of Paul Christensen (SOM '13), Patrick Paczkwoski (GSAS '13) and Smita Venkat (SOM '13)
1. Who was your favorite guest speaker and why?
I really enjoyed the visit by Caren of Nestio. It’s always powerful to see entrepreneurs who have been really engaged in the nuts and bolts of starting up a venture, and can speak clearly about the experience. For ventures like ours, which are working through the day to day challenges of launching a new enterprise, it’s incredibly useful to be able to speak with people who understand what we are going through.
2. What strategy or hypothesis about your venture have you changed since you started the summer fellowship?
Since starting the summer fellowship, we’ve realized that our business could have much wider applications that we previously thought. We’ve widened our thinking to consider how we could approach not only a specific industry niche, but also how Mental Canvas could be applied to broader consumer markets.
3. How have your mentors helped you advance your business?
Our mentors are a critical element in developing our business. We have a group of mentors who understand the software industry and the process of transferring technology out of a university. A number of successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have told us that one of the most important qualities of an entrepreneur is having “good ears.” We’ve taken that to heart, and listening to our mentors has been one of the most important ways for thinking through how to structure our business model and pitch.
4. What did you take away from the YEI Fellowship’s tour of more established startups like HubSpot and (2010 YEI fellowship company) Hadapt?
Success is possible!