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Launching Passions and Friendships

By Samantha Burns

October 07, 2013

Launch demonstrated that in the entrepreneurial realm, being passionate is one of the greatest assets. From love grows the best businesses and the strongest friendships.

– Samantha Burns, co-founder and CEO of Unbounded Travel

If you were presented with 29 new best friends tomorrow, what would they be like? Would they be from your same town? Be interested in the same things you are? At LaunchX last summer, I was given this very opportunity, but these 29 friends were from all corners of the world.  Among them were master computer programmers, insomniac bakers, Indian classical dancers, and soccer gurus. We were so extraordinarily different, but the bonds we formed were founded on the fact that we are all passionate. It didn’t matter what fueled our passion– for me, it was going to night lectures on genomic research at the Broad Institute, for another friend, it was playing tennis on the MIT courts after class.

The defining element of LaunchX students is that we are not afraid to love something. Growing up, it’s tempting to hide behind a shield of apathy to protect yourself from others judgment. Like physics? Fine! But only for the grade. Do problems sets for fun and you designate yourself as a nerd. Or another strange one, don’t be “the overachiever.” There are no problems liking soccer, but when you run the extra mile, prepare for teammates’ grumbling in your direction. By the time you reach high school, you mask your passions until you don’t even recognize how much you love them. That trick works for a while- heck, McDonald’s sells 75 hamburgers a second because of its dependable averageness. But in order to start something new, to be an entrepreneur, you can’t be average. You have to be a little weird. You have to be passionate.

At LaunchX, we learned that in order to be successful, you need to love your business idea in a way that you will be able to talk to anyone about it- no matter if it is your best friend or someone sitting next to you in an airport, where Francis Pedraza made a connection that skyrocketed his business Everest.

As an entrepreneur, you are going to be spending so much time getting people to invest money into your idea, but you will only get support if you can invest the passion into your creation. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s creation was deprived of love, and consequently evolved into a monster. On the same token, 90% of start-ups fail, because their creators fail to invest their love on top of mere effort and funds.

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