Accelerating into the Future

Accelerating into the Future

The Frank & Eileen Accelerator Program for the Leaders of Tomorrow concluded its inaugural year with Marlborough’s first annual pitch showcase on Saturday, May 13, 2023. This highly-anticipated event provided students with a platform to showcase their businesses, network with professionals, and honor all the work they completed over the course of the program. 

The day began with a business fair-style networking reception. Guests were able to visit with each of the 15 student entrepreneurs who collectively founded 12 companies (three groups worked as pairs to become co-founders), gaining insight into their respective businesses, viewing prototypes, and collecting informational materials such as flyers and business cards. The atmosphere was electric, fostering excitement and anticipation for the formal pitches scheduled for later that afternoon.

Gathering together in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, guests were then formally welcomed by Head of School Jennifer Ciccarelli; Dr. Lee Mirsky, Associate Director of the Frank & Eileen Accelerator Program and Engineering & Entrepreneurship Program Head; and Audrey McLoghlin, founder of Frank & Eileen. Ms. McLoghlin, driven by her passion for supporting the next generation of female problem solvers and changemakers, generously donated to Marlborough, enabling the launch of the Accelerator Program. Throughout the year, she served as an invaluable resource for the students. Addressing the crowd gathered at the Pitch Showcase, Ms. McLoghlin expressed, “At Frank & Eileen, we believe women are changing the world. The biggest impact I can have is in helping to create more women entrepreneurs.” She closed her remarks by celebrating the success of the program’s first year: “I want to offer a huge congratulations to each and every one of you who have been brave enough to be part of the first year of the Frank & Eileen Accelerator Program. It is yet another indicator that you are indeed part of the future leaders of tomorrow.”

Following this warm congratulations from Ms. McLoghlin, students began their pitches. Each pitch lasted five minutes, allowing time for thoughtful questions from the audience at the end. During their presentations, students were able to articulate the importance of the problem they were working to solve and how their businesses addressed these challenges. “Seeing the students give their presentations was such a joyful experience,” Dr. Mirsky says. “They were so well-prepared, well spoken, and appeared calm, cool, and collected the whole way through.”

To prepare for this final component of the Accelerator Program, students dedicated the final three weeks of class time to refining their pitches. “Seeing the growth over the course of those three weeks was incredibly impressive,” Dr. Mirsky shares. “The first week was a little shaky and I think they all realized just how much preparatory work needed to be done.” However, the students exhibited unwavering dedication to the program, ensuring they were ready for the showcase by the third week. Dr. Mirsky shares, “Their hard work paid off, and everything fell into place. I knew they were ready for the showcase.”

The pitch showcase served as a fitting culmination of the students’ year-long journey, providing a clear trajectory and focus for the program. Weekly lessons were designed to address different aspects of the pitch model which provided a tangible way to measure benchmarks, have a shared vocabulary, and hone the concrete skill of pitching a business. While these group lessons moved at a similar pace, Dr. Mirsky recognized that building a business does not necessarily occur in the timeframe of this year-long program, and each founder would progress at their own pace in terms of building prototypes and being prepared for a full launch. She says, “I tried to build a program that was adaptable and scalable to where the students were in their business models and processes.” This scalability came into play during one-on-one mentorship meetings, allowing students to progress at a pace that aligned with their specific business needs. 

As Dr. Mirsky reflects on the first year of this program, she is of the accomplishments of both the students and the program itself. “In many ways, we were building the program as we went along, in collaboration with the students, Ms. McLoghlin, and professional mentors,” Dr. Mirsky says. “While it can be hard to see the full arc and scope of something while you are in the middle of it, I feel like we accomplished what we set out to do which is extremely gratifying.” The program’s first-year success is a testament to the dedication and leadership of Dr. Mirsky, as well as the resources made available thanks to Ms. Loughlin’s generous support, and the unwavering commitment of each participating student. 

The momentum behind the Frank & Eileen Accelerator Program for the Leaders of Tomorrow is only building. Ms. McLoghlin reflects, “I am excited for all the years to come as I continue to build the Frank & Eileen Accelerator Program in partnership with Marlborough to support young entrepreneurs and watch them change the world.” 

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