The founder of Yipit—a website that aggregates and recommends daily deals from online coupon sites, such as Groupon—hosted a workshop on creating an internet start-up on Thursday at Harvard’s Innovation Lab.
The workshop, titled “How to go from Idea to Funded Startup,” is part of the i-Lab’s broader effort to offer both space and programming for entrepreneurial pursuits.
Drawing on his own experiences starting Yipit, Vinicius R. Vacanti ’03 spoke to a full room about all stages, from idea to production, of creating a start-up.
Vacanti emphasized that start-up founders must push through inevitable “bad ideas,” and cited his own experience as an undergraduate in Computer Science 50: “Introduction to Computer Science I” as an inspiration for his current work.
Jodie Goldstein, who organized the workshop, emphasized the applicability of Vacanti’s real-world experience.
“I think he’s at a really good stage of the [start-up] life cycle to give valuable insight to students,” she said.
“It’s really crucial for people to get that perspective.”
Students at the presentation found Vacanti’s advice helpful.
“I was surprised at the level of expertise that he applied to very fundamental questions and issues that start-ups are facing,” said Pierre R. Fatal, a student at the Harvard Extension School.
Although the official launch of the i-Lab is still two weeks away, this is the sixth program to be hosted by the center. By the end of the fall semester, there will have been twelve workshops, with more planned for spring.
Students in attendance, and Vacanti himself, expressed their support for the i-Lab and its mission of encouraging collaborative and entrepreneurial endeavors.
“It’s a very supportive, incredibly accessible community,” Harvard Kennedy School student Martin S. Bell said, citing the ability of the i-Lab to bring students from across the University and other local universities together.
Vacanti echoed Bell’s sentiment, saying, “I think it’s beautiful. I wish it had existed when I was here.”
One key to a successful startup, Vacanti said, was drawing users away from competitors.
“You should convince the user that instead of spending five minutes looking at their ex on vacation on Facebook, they should spend it on your site,” he said.
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