In Spring 2012, I was admitted to MIT and I impulsively asked Amherst College for an educational leave. It turns out that Joseph E. Stiglitz also took educational leave from Amherst to enroll at MIT, so I figured this might not be a bad idea. (although this is not necessarily a good thing, as I encountered administrative issues previously unimaginable to me.) At MIT, I planned to develop my technology and entrepreneurial interests, which I had made certain of through founding and running my own web company, along with my analytical skills and knowledge. Therefore, my best classes at MIT were primarily related to business, economics, computer science and statistics, some of which were really special:
15.390 New Enterprises
This is the business plan course at MIT. I started class pitching my web business idea to attract team members, while other classmates pitched theirs. The “best ideas” survived. I worked with 2 other masters students on my web business idea and wrote a full blown 80-page business plan by the end of the semester. I learnt about the nitty-gritty details of the business plan, from assessing the total addressable market size to calculating the lifetime value of customers and cost of customer acquisition.
The fun parts of the course were not only learning how to write a business plan but also listening to guest speakers, who are experienced business people and entrepreneurs, talk in depth about the various operations of a business.
15.S16 Entrepreneurial Product Development and Marketing
Students had to apply to get into this course, as funding was given to each team accepted to market and develop their product. Moreover, this course was co-taught by Brian Halligan, MIT Sloan alumnus and CEO of HubSpot, who I suspect sponsored the class.
From the course, I learnt about the ways and value of “inbound marketing” as well as the clearly identifying your key customer’s persona. I also conducted a product study and interviewed potential customers for my own company. Occasionally, Brian also went through business cases, including one about Hubspot, and highlighted the importance of ROI and churn rate to venture capitalists and companies.
6.S078 Entrepreneurship Project
This was a new class started by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAIL) and EECS department in 2013. Again, students needed to apply to get into the course, which grants academic credits to all those working on a entrepreneurial projects, and access to faculty, venture capital advisers, and outside commercial mentors. Basically, this course helped people like me to focus and work on our company during the semester without having to worry about academics, because our company became part of school work.
6.470 IAP Programming
This class has always been taught over winter break in January by MIT course 6 (computer science) students. (Yeah, MIT students teach courses which other fellow students can get credits for.) I paired up with another student and developed a website for people to design their college social experience through finding people in your school who shares your interests.
I took on the role of web developer while my class partner was web designer. Thanks to the class, I picked up PHP and MySql in a month’s time. This class is definitely for people who are interested in building dynamic websites.
Classes I wished I had taken but could not fit into my schedule:
6.070J Electronics Project Laboratory
According to the course catalog: Intuition-based introduction to electronics, electronic components and test equipment such as oscilloscopes, meters (voltage, resistance inductance, capacitance, etc.), and signal generators. Emphasizes individual instruction and development of skills, such as soldering, assembly, and troubleshooting. Students design, build, and keep a small electronics project, such as a simple robot, to put their new knowledge into practice.