Each speaker at Entrepreneurs Club tends to bring something new to the table, and this week’s speaker did just that. John Harthorne, CEO and Founder of MassChallenge, grabbed the audience of students’ attention almost immediately with his blunt yet relatable personality. After giving a basic overview of what exactly MassChallenge is, he launched into a long but interesting and funny story of exactly how he came to be where he is today, providing pieces of humor and advice to the students of Entrepreneurs Club along the way.
First and foremost, Harthorne made an effort to point out that reaching the point he is at today with MassChallenge was a long process. “What I realized is that I get bored really quickly. I really like learning but then once I’ve learned something I don’t want to do it anymore,” he said in regard to the numerous degrees he received in a variety of locations on his search for a job he would enjoy. After many years of schooling, Harthorne reached the conclusion that he could do one of two things: be a consultant, or be an entrepreneur. He determined this because he “needed to learn and…needed a job where [he] was helping people.” In the end, obviously, it came down to entrepreneurship, although it took quite a while for him to get there.
He elaborated on this idea by saying that “everything is always hard when you’re an entrepreneur.” He pointed out that there are always obstacles and people around an aspiring entrepreneur don’t, in the beginning at least, have much faith in that individual’s idea. When asked about any student’s chance for success in entrepreneurship, he said, “To be an entrepreneur you have to be crazy enough to do something impossible for it to suddenly become possible. Students are good at that.” However, he did caution the students by pointing out that most college-aged individuals are only “book-smart,” and have little real-world experience they can apply to their ideas.
Overall, he encouraged the students to work towards whatever it was that they really wanted to do with their lives rather than settling for something that they only relatively enjoyed. He said, “You have to stick with your values. That was the best thing we ever did, staying totally true to our values.”
Check out the video of our meeting with John! John Harthorne Video