“MEMSI was quite a time crunch – two weeks is actually not a lot of time to learn and apply all of the knowledge we learnt to make an original idea that addresses the challenge questions posed by the program in conjunction with Hong Kong International Airport. We always had to be on our toes and put in 100% (or even 110%) of our efforts.
In the bootcamp, I learnt the overarching process that is how to make a startup pitch, all the way from idea generation, market research, making business models, to the pitch itself and its presentation. It was quite a black box to me before I came into the program, and now I am enlightened about this process. The industry challenges from the Airport Authority Hong Kong were challenging, directed yet open ended, calling for great creativity from all teams. Through working out a solution for the Hong Kong airport, it made me go on a deep dive into how the airport works, and it really opened up my understanding of airports that I never knew before.
MEMSI was an incredible experience and it gave me the opportunity to not only learn about entrepreneurship but also build long lasting friendships with students from Hong Kong and MIT! To my surprise, I ended up really liking Hong Kong! If I weren’t in the program, I never would have known how much I would love this tall, vibrant and delectable city!”
“MEMSI was such an enriching and amazing opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship while collaborating with a diverse team to solve a complex problem. The bootcamp pushed me and my team to think critically about the customer journey and how difficult it is to tailor products to what consumers need in their lives right now. Each lesson taught at MEMSI helped with this process (e.g. breaking down problems, developing an end-user persona, data analytics, etc.). One of the most difficult aspects of developing a solution to the challenge statement was incorporating the various feedback we got, whether it was from people we surveyed or our mentors at the Hong Kong Airport. It was incredible to see the ideas we put together as a team fully form a thought-out solution by the end and how quickly it could happen under the timed pressure of the program. I loved seeing the collaboration between MIT students and HK students throughout the program.
Overall, MEMSI was one of the highlights of my MIT experience. Without the continual support of everyone at the MIT Node, the guest speakers, mentors, coaches, and cohort itself, this wouldn’t be possible. The program brought us all together and created memories that will last a lifetime.”
“MEMSI was a fun experience connecting the theory and real-life applications of my field of interest. I’ve had to improve the crucial skill of thinking and communicating in a contextual and nonlinear manner. Within the large amounts of data provided, my teammates and I worked hard to identify modelling opportunities that were both theoretically feasible and valuable in a business sense, not without the support of industry partners who inspired us with their deep understanding of the aviation industry. In a short period of under two weeks, we built a proof-of-concept and a rudimentary business plan — the latter of which was very new to me.”
There was incredible energy in our team, consisting of diverse talent, grit, discipline and organization. I was positively surprised how MEMSI can form quickly and give continual support. The overall experience was very fun.”
“For MEMSI, we thought it would be interesting to try and work on making flying more sustainable with an idea that is economically viable for all of the stakeholders involved. Besides that, I had just taken a Boston to Delhi flight and I was beginning to fully appreciate the scale of carbon emissions from aviation and how that one journey basically overshadowed all of my conscious pro-sustainability lifestyle changes. Given our team’s background and interest in various aspects of sustainability, we decided that it should be the theme of the problem we’re solving.”
“Coming in with a very non-traditional background and little hardware experience, MEMSI seemed intimidating at first. However I was quickly set at ease by the constant support of faculty, my brilliant peers, and rotating cast of industry leading advisors.
I made some of the most important professional connections in my career through this program, and am so deeply proud of the work my team was able to pull together in such a short time, from a working prototype to a website, white paper, and board of advisors.
The program was without a doubt a life-changing experience. I learned so much about myself as a product manager and the experience has deepened my commitment to entrepreneurship and made me a better leader and innovator.
MEMSI takes action-based learning to the max! It really pushes you to your limit, and once you get there you think, ‘I can go further’. Get ready to get your hands dirty.”
“The MBA program at MIT Sloan places heavy emphasis on learning to work with diverse teams. While this certainly is an indispensable skill for the modern business person, it is hard to practice within the classroom of a business school, given that a cohort of MBA students is a self-selected group from a handful of backgrounds and with mostly similar ambitions.
In MEMSI, I got to experience working with a team that is truly diverse in multiple aspects. Our team of seven was composed of engineering, design, business and physical therapy students from three universities in Hong Kong as well as two graduate programs at MIT. We had an age range between 20 and 31, between zero and seven years of work experience in various fields as well as varying degrees of proficiency in English and Cantonese. Once we agreed on the overall expectations, the different perspectives each team member brought to the table allowed us to challenge our assumptions and push ourselves.
During the two weeks at MEMSI, we not only ended up producing a commercially viable business idea, but also learned to do so as a part of a truly diverse team. This is an experience that is hard to gain through any other program.”
As a graduate student in studying advanced manufacturing and design, I really enjoyed seeing Chinese plants. We hear a lot about Chinese factories but having the chance to actually see that by yourself is different. Within these visits, what was great was also the diversity of factories we visited. From the traditional “high productivity for an healthy economy” factory to the new modern and connected factory. Also, Chinese Tech companies were an interesting plus. Finally, great Shenzhen Tech talk with MIT professors from MechE!
Final point on the organization of the event – caring and helpful staff. Also, very interesting guest speakers throughout the program from whom we could learn a lot.”
“I learnt the importance of team building during the discussion. Other students brought in the culture like team contract signing, systematic decision-making process. These experiences helped us make decisions harmoniously with everyone’s consensus. Secondly, the entrepreneur spirit and process I learnt from mentors and teammates are impressive. Both boldness and prudence are equally important in this journey.
My background is in medical and rehabilitation field which allowed me to provide a more diverse angle and unique information for my teammates in the problem statement and solution forming. I can make use of the connection I had with social partners and professionals. These experience also enhanced my skills in contacting the external resources and the elderly as well.
The most challenging part was deciding on the problem and coming up with the solution under time limitation while receiving countless feedback from others and ourselves. The team spirit led us to the end. I am surprised by how resourceful the Node is and how talented the cohort is. The operation, workshop, resources and support are on point. The cohort dynamic is fantastic due to the diversified background and personality.”
“Being a TA for MEMSI provided an amazing opportunity to take what I learned as a participant in the program last year and hopefully inspire the cohort to think bigger of what is possible for them as I felt myself. It’s a unique position to be a part of a well rounded group of international students of all academic and professional backgrounds getting motivated to create something of their own. This program will undoubtedly continue to have a lasting impact on me to see problems more widely and my ability to help others.”
“I learnt quite a lot but most importantly about how to apply design thinking approaches in our projects. A lot of us were excellent engineers and researchers, and were tempted of making prototypes and solutions based on our expertise. However, we later realized how distant we were from the problem we wanted to solve after conducting user observations and interviews to try to empathize with our target demographic. This made me realize the importance of getting out and talking to people.
Since it was a 2-week focus program, the most challenging part was to get buy-in from the teammates within a few days on which problem statement we wanted to work on. I believe it is important to get the balance of personal motivations – what do folks really want to work on and what is really a problem that affects society. After agreeing on the problem statement we wanted to work on, we then had the challenge of trying to agree on how to approach solving it as problems can be solved in many ways.
The program helped me build confidence. The environment at the Node is amazing to simplify collaboration and has access to all the resources required for prototyping. MEMSI hosted seminars calling in external experts, took us on an eye-opening trip to Chinese mega factories and had amazing mentors on hand from both MIT and HK. They removed all possible barriers to realize any ideas we might have had. When the barriers are non-existent and cost of failure is virtually none, folks feel empowered and confident to do things they want to do.”
“I learned a tremendous amount from MEMSI, and one of the key things I took away from the program is the need to stay open to ideas and always listen. You will meet fellow students in the cohort from very different backgrounds, disciplines, and cultures, so being able to listen to each other, humbly and openly, becomes extremely important to ensure the team works well together. The program is not only about collaboration, but more importantly, learning from each other, and the key to this is to learn how to listen to each other first. Trust me, you’re going to learn way more than you would ever expect from the people here, just by being open-minded and being able to listen patiently to their stories and experiences! In addition, you will learn more about yourself. I came in very focused on the technical stuff as a computer engineer, but now I strongly believe that business drives technology. The experience has changed my outlook — I see possibilities, I see a bigger picture of the future, and that I can make a difference in Hong Kong. I got exposed to so many things I never expected or thought about, and I met people who have become my best friends. MEMSI is a short two-week experience, but we’re all connected as a community after the program, which continues to influence me in a very positive way.”
“MEMSI was a fantastic experience which combined entrepreneurial education, technical development knowledge, and navigating a cultural intersection in ways I don’t think I have ever experienced. The behind the scenes manufacturing tour was an amazing experience that afforded me the opportunity to see manufacturing in a realm that many founders have never even experienced first hand. The entrepreneurial skills were problem driven and helped reshape my strict engineering education into funding addressable problems rather than formulating solutions first, something I feel has also helped me in my scientific career. The cultural intersection of forming teams and building a startup venture with those from a different culture, in a different culture, was an amazing excercise in empathy for your customer, not always trying to solve a problem that you, the entrepreneur, has faced. The program gave me life long friends from all over the world who are passionate about similar topics as I am and it is truly an experience I will never forget. “
“I initially joined MEMSI to learn what entrepreneurship was and to prepare for the startup world…I certainly got a taste of that but I left with vastly more than I initially expected. I gained a comprehensive understanding of entrepreneurship and making in just two weeks. Other than what I had expected to learn, my insight on starting a startup changed a lot. I learned how to find problems that are worth solving, instead of focusing solely on what I want to solve. I learned that tech entrepreneurship does not mean putting cool technologies together, but rather doing something for the needs of others. It was awesome interacting and working with amazing people from different backgrounds, and to share enlightening moments of how we see the world and what we want to do for the future. We learned the importance of primary market research and rapid prototyping, and test our business ideas multiple times in order to know what the customers desire. The constructive feedback and guidance from mentors and the MEMSI staff were invaluable to help us improve our project. MEMSI is a fun and challenging program, and a great platform to learn what it takes to start a business.”
“Participating in MEMSI was one of the most impactful experience of my time at MIT Sloan. I had the opportunity to join a diverse group of students from MIT and Hong Kong from various different disciplines including – mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, information systems, physics and business. Together, in just under 2-weeks we all created business plans and prototypes of product that we were extremely proud of (our team made an inflatable helmet to address the issue of bike safety for shared biking systems). I’ve never learned so much while having so much fun over a 2-week period and would very highly recommend the program to anyone interested in hardware innovation, cross-border product production, and the entrepreneurial journey. I am very grateful to have been apart of this journey and appreciate all everything that MIT, the Martin Trust Center, MISTI, the Hong Kong Innovation Node, and many other organizations put into making it all happen.”
“MEMSI allows me to work collaboratively with people in an intensive environment. I had no idea how to start a company before joining MEMSI, but after the program, our team turned our idea into a startup, Aavia and we’ve been working on it ever since. Founded by myself and teammates from MIT, Aavia is building the first ever smart pill sleeve that reminds women to take their birth control pills on time, every time. It’s amazing to see how our team grew from a few folks who would have never known each other had we not joined the program. Sometimes the first step is the hardest step to take. For me, it usually takes a bit of courage and recklessness, but no matter what the outcome is, I always learn something new and useful for life.”