This past weekend, people were probably having a typical Sunday night: plowing through backlogs of procrastinated work, mourning the loss of yet another weekend and preparing themselves for another dreary Monday. As I was doing just this, I checked my phone for the time: one second it read 2:00 AM and the next it said 1:00 AM. After the initial heart attack and serious debate about whether I had lost my mind, I realized that daylight savings had ended. I thought “Oh, right, this is something we still do.”, and went on to try to remind myself why.
When I visited the Weiss Tech House, one of the first things I noticed was a note scribbled on the white board: “Take a chance on the us. We are the 3%. 97% of startups fail.”
Indeed, Weiss- Labs is an incubator for entrepreneurship and innovation at Penn that is incredibly successful. Started this semester by co-founders, Guthrie Gintzler and Ernest Tavares, Weiss Labs has created a community of support and guidance for budding entrepreneurs at Penn. The first cohort of 7 teams, selected out of 70 applicants, meets for weekly meetings to give each other updates, and feedback and learn about different aspects of entrepreneurship from speakers who are leaders in their fields– anyone from lawyers to venture capitalists.
Guthrie and Ernest in part created the incubator to battle the risk-averse and pre-professional Penn culture, which sometimes prevents students from pursuing their entrepreneurial aspirations. “A lot of people who have good ideas are too afraid to take a break off from their internships and work on their good ideas because it breaks some sort of social code […] It’s oftentimes better to work on your idea and follow your passion even if you’re taking a year off. And companies at the end of the day respect that a lot more than people think”
When Guthrie and Ernest were trying to probe what makes an incubator really successful, they heard that the main thing is creating a tight community. But it’s more than just a community for entrepreneurs; it’s also a family. Guthrie joked, “Pledge Weiss-Labs.”