My Experience – Mentoring Young Entrepreneurs at MIT Global Startup Labs


    It was not just another day of entertainment at the Park Street Mews. Entrepreneurial aspirations, inspiring level of enthusiasm and positive team spirit were flowing through each and every corner of the building. Young university students from MIT Global Start-up Labs GSL program were getting ready to present their ideas to experienced professionals from the industry for feedback and support. The students were trained, mentored and guided by instructors from MIT, and local entrepreneurial leaders, through a comprehensive entrepreneurship development program.

    “Ready, Set, Pitch”! The competition started. Students presented their ideas with confidence, demonstrating what they learned during the program, as well as their technical competencies. Sitting in a corner as a mentor, I have chosen not to judge, as all ideas were equally good, and sometimes it’s the approach they used in presenting it to the audience or their plan to implement the idea was what made the difference from one project to the other. There were many ideas, more than what they presented.

    It was the Silicon Valley spirit mingling around.

    The culture created with the program inspired them to think new and develop various alternatives to the ideas they have initially come up with. It was a great start, and the work is now in progress. At the end of the Phase 1, many lessons were there to learn. The expectation is that, there will be many new start-ups entering the economy within next few months through the GSL program.


    Role of a Mentor

    It was thanks to Marian Rupasinghe I got the opportunity to get involved in the GSL project as a mentor. It is an experience I will never forget in my life, because of the happiness I feel in my heart, every time the teams move forward. They have the talents, they are capable of building a new world, and all they need is just a little support and encouragement.

    As a mentor, I spend every possible minute with the teams, regardless of whether they are allocated to me or not, and help them explore many possibilities in turning their dreams into reality. All mentors who are involved in GSL program sacrifice their time to help these young leaders of the future, sacrificing many hours of their own businesses, with only one expectation, that they will also turn into successful entrepreneurs.

    Dr. Madhu Fernando sharing her views and suggestions with the contestants.

    MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been running Global Start up Labs since year 2000, in over 10 countries around the world. Initially the focus was on IT Start-ups and the program has been conducted only in one university until this year they opened it up to all university students. Aim of the program is to promote entrepreneurship to a diverse group of students and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country with many new start-ups. SLASSCOM has been actively involved in driving the program to success as it closely connects with SLASSCOM Vision 2022 and 1000 start-up program.

    Our Responsibility towards an Innovative Nation

    The contestants were exposed to industry experts who offered valuable insight.

    The contestants were exposed to industry experts who offered valuable insight.

    When the competition gets heated up new ideas are generated and everyone wants to perform at their best. Keeping this spirits up through the process of implementation is the main challenge any entrepreneurial development program will encounter. MIT GSL program provides their students all the necessary support to keep the innovation alive, but we all have a responsibility as industry professionals to start working on sponsoring more programs like this and continue to foster socio-economic development, and build an entrepreneurial nation. SLASSCOM and other professional organizations, as well as leading companies like Brandix, who has sponsored this year’s program, can play a major role in developing future entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial spirits are positive, they build unimagined futures. Let’s keep passing it around.




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