One of the magic special things I remember about MIT is what happens during January. It’s called IAP – Independent Activities Period. Rather than classes, students can do whatever they want, including go home and sleep for the month (which I did a few times). There are lots of events, seminars, and short courses (day, week, month) on campus covering a wide variety of topics.

I decided to spend two weeks of IAP at MIT this year. I rented a hotel room in Cambridge near Kendall Square and tossed out a bunch of “hey – I’m going to be around – anything for me to do?” type emails. I got a little back – much less than I expected – and when I started looking through the online IAP directory I was disappointed in what I saw. But I decided to go anyway and arrived last Thursday after CES.

I’m doing a couple of things – the main being mentoring at StartLabs, a one month program for undergrads starting up companies. So far it’s been really cool – I’ve spent time with all of the companies and am focusing on two of them – Thingdom and Muse Analytical. Thingdom is up – go friend me, play around, and tell them (and/or me) what you think. Muse Analytical is still in product design mode (miniature, portable, chemical analysis) and crossing the gap between tech and product vision is fun. All of the teams in the program (seven of them) are hanging out at RedStar, the offices created by two of my frat brothers – Joe Chung and Jeet Singh. The energy is awesome.

I’m also hanging around the MIT Entrepreneurship Center a little (spent some time there Friday and Monday) and am on a panel for Joe Hadzima’s “Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans” seminar on 1/25 (where I’ll likely say something like “business plans are useless – just go read Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup and build some shit.”

In the mean time, I’ve decamped to New York for a few days where I’m hanging out with my friends at USV and my dad talking about how to transform healthcare via software and the Internet (not a huge interest of mine, but of them, and my dad) and then spending time with MakerBot creating machines that create machines.

I’m having fun on my “travel different – spend a big chunk of time in one place” efforts so far, although the intensity is pegged at 10 all the time right now which is clearly not sustainable. And I miss Amy, although she’ll be here soon (note to Amy – bring a warm coat.)

  • Brad,

    “Travel different – spend a big chunk of time in one place” – after living in Paris for a month, I can say that this is the only way to travel. After finishing undergrad, I was lucky enough to have enough money set aside to spend a month in Paris. I rented an apartment and did little but walk the streets and hang out at cafes. I could’ve used that month to travel throughout Europe, but spending time to actually know a city was a priceless experience which I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. 

    I can do that “pop travel” routine of visiting a place, checking out all the historic sites and the local marketplaces before setting forth to the next destination anymore. As a result, I can’t see as much as I would like to, but what I do see becomes a rich, everlasting memory. 

    In a sense, I traded in sights for experiences. 

  • How has Cambridge changed over the years?

  • What you are doing at MIT is very cool. Students are a very
    energizing group!  
    In two weeks I will be giving a presentation to the New Venture Challenge CU students on tools that they can use for idea generation, testing, and initial product development. For example a tool that I have used before is Unbounce for creating landing pages and testing the message to customers.

    What tools do you recommend that are useful for companies at
    similar stages as Thingdom or Muse Analytical?  Any other words of advice?

  • Alex

    Hey Brad- can a non-MIT student (first-year at BU School of Management, started the VC/PE Club here) and fan (just finished “Venture Deals” with “Do More Faster” on my list) attend your seminar next week?    

    • I don’t see why not – just show up!

      • Alex

        Brad- thanks for taking part in the seminar!  I enjoyed your discussion on the evolution of touch screen user interfaces.  Gotta admit though, I wasn’t 100% sure what to do with a pencil and and cassette tape, guess I’m still young 🙂  

        • Glad you liked it. Look for a blog post from me soon titled “A Pencil and a Cassette Tape.”

  • It’s funny because I am spending time on the MIT campus interviewing for our Spring 2012 intern program. I didn’t know about this program and thought it was very cool (they didn’t have these when I went to school.)  I agree that hanging out (I do it at the CIC) is a great way to absorb some new information. I’ve already met a handful of new people doing really cool things that I’d never have connected with if I was flying through with a full schedule of meetings and then on to the next city. I thought about trying to organize something on campus next January around our internship program. I think the kids would enjoy it.

  • hehe very very cool

  • Aseem Kishore
  • Brad, long time reader, first time commenter, haha sorry, had to do that.  Anyway, I went to Thingdom and I am wondering how you feel about it after  FB’s changes to the open graph that Pavyment capitalizes on by adding the ow
    n it button.

    • I don’t know Pavyment but my guess is there are lots of different feature sets that will be cool here.

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