Microsoft’s involvement with the Hatchery spans from helping students to refine their pitches, to picking up some handy coding skills, to getting in training for their Imagine Cup (the world’s premier student technology competition) and, more recently, running their very own podcast studio out of the space.
Developer Platform Evangelist at Microsoft, Lawrence Crumpton, works with university students to help them learn the skills of entrepreneurship and leverage new technologies and says he’s impressed with the students he’s seen coming through the Hatchery.
He’s currently working with a student who’s looking at developing assisted technology for sign language and another who he thinks might just be able to crack the, so far elusive, blockchain technology.
The Hatchery, he says, plays a really important role in teaching students entrepreneurship. Being able to solve problems innovatively is an important skill. Whether you are looking to start your own business or, like Crumpton, be an intrapreneur and innovate within a large company like Microsoft, Apple or Google, “You need to be able to understand the problem and how to think about a problem”.
In teaching entrepreneurial thinking he stresses that every entrepreneur needs to be really precise about what their customer wants and to ensure that the offering is an exact match. “I tell them in workshops, ‘You don’t want the first person who comes along and says please can I be your customer. You don’t even want the first person who says please I have the money to pay for it. The guy with the money may be very far away from what you’re trying to do. Once you’ve built the thing that you’ve tested in the market and know it’s what people want, someone will pay you for it.’ “
Starting a business, he says, is just the beginning. It’s a never-ending journey of working out how to grow and keep going. “Microsoft is forty-one years old and we are still asking how do we do it again.“
Audience Evangelism Manager (Startups/Students) Pat Stanton, who also mentors students in the Hatchery, says it’s a lot of fun. “When you’re sitting down listening to young, switched on semi technical people and they’re delivering a pitch, or showing you software that has amazing potential, it’s super exciting. There’s a wow factor.”
Crumpton, whose job also involves speaking at events like Vivid and REMIX and showing people the wonders of Microsoft’s HoloLens, says he loves mentoring Hatchery students. “With any problem that gets solved, we, as a society, all move along. I love being a part of that.”
As for the podcast studio, some Hatchery students have been using it to produce a podcast about entrepreneurialism. It’s called, The Hatch. Have a listen. We’d love to know what you think.