After winning the first edition of the TU Delft STARTUP competition Tobias Pfeiffer and Aaike van Vugt, founders of VSParticle, are in Cambridge MA, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Our prize: a spot in MIT’s Global Founder’s Skills Accelerator (GFSA) at the Martin Trust Center (MTC). Read all about their adventures here.
The MTC is located in the north-eastern part of the MIT campus. Behind the main door and up some stairs to the first floor stands a glass façade with a big sign for the Martin Trust Center. Bill Aulet, writer of Disciplined Entrepreneurship, manages the center with a small army of talented entrepreneurs and supporting staff.
Before arrival I expected the center to be similar as what I know from YES!Delft: A building full of aspiring startups in various stages. The center is designed as a large open space with some smaller meeting rooms students can book. All doors are glass, and the walls function as whiteboards, ideal for creative group sessions.
The Martin Trust Center is not an incubator, but focuses on education and acceleration.
MIT startups can’t get a fixed office space in the center but drop by whenever they need support in growing their business. For us it’s another story because we are one of 13 startups (11 from MIT and 2 international) participating in the GFSA, and we’ll be staying at the MTC throughout the summer. The program of the GFSA is structured along the 24 steps of market validation Bill addresses in his book.
The program started June 1st at 10:00 a.m.* with donuts and an introduction by Trish Cotter, program manager of GFSA. Ten teams of MIT and four from abroad take part annually. After the introduction Bill explained that the first month of the program would be about two main questions: who are your customers and what can you do for them? Being a MIT (or TU Delft) startup with a great technology will not make you successful if you don’t know who your customer will be, and which of his or her problems you are solving.
Even though VSParticle was founded in October 2014 we still didn’t (don’t?) know exactly who our customer is. We have a pretty good picture now of who our end users would be, and what value we could offer them. That still leaves us to identify our Persona: the person behind the abstract concept of our end user profile.
With Harvard, MIT, Boston University and Northeastern University and a large number of businesses all located in Boston, we can rapidly expand the initial market validation we did back in Delft. After a week of making appointments, this week we’ll meet with various professors and researchers in the area to discuss the use of very small particles.
* Tobias showed up a week late because he was busy becoming a father.
VSParticle (‘Very Small Particle’) brings a highly flexible technology to the market that makes nano particles accessible for companies and researchers. The company is part of the portfolio of Delft Enterprises and YES!Delft.