CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 26, 2021 – The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship (MTC) is pleased to honor MIT Sloan students David Begun (MBA ’21), Navroop Singh Sehmi (SF ’21), and Kevin D. Johnson (EMBA ’21) as the winners of the 2021 Patrick J. McGovern, Jr. ’59 Entrepreneurship Award. Mr. McGovern, an accomplished entrepreneur and founder of International Data Group (IDG), created this award to encourage innovative student entrepreneurs at MIT.
Begun and Sehmi volunteered to help the Trust Center reimagine Orbit, the one-stop-shop online resource for MIT student entrepreneurs. The duo quickly took leadership positions helping the original Orbit creator, Paul Cheek, take the platform to a whole new level. Applying their experience from past projects, Begun and Sehmi implemented advanced functionality in the student productivity tool. Their dedication to the Orbit platform and time spent conducting user research, designing an improved interface, and developing new functionality has resulted in dramatically increased Orbit engagement and satisfaction.
The additional tools designed and developed by Begun and Sehmi will allow new MIT students to onboard into the entrepreneurship community more quickly and foster student connections. These benefits directly support incredibly important functions of the Trust Center and provide additional means for students, no matter where they are in their entrepreneurial journey, to expand their networks among mentors, co-founders, and other team members. These new developments will have a lasting impact on the school’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“Dave and Nav have left their mark on entrepreneurship at MIT, which will ensure that future students are able to make the most of their time here by leveraging resources, such as Orbit, that will best support their entrepreneurial endeavors,” said Paul Cheek, creator of Orbit, Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at MTC, and Lecturer at MIT Sloan.
Kevin D. Johnson is being awarded the McGovern for his role in co-teaching the “Building an Entrepreneurial Venture: Advanced Tools and Techniques” class, and for his work founding KINETIC, a program that assists entrepreneurs of color to find avenues for funding.
“Kevin’s incredible passion for supporting our student entrepreneurs combined with his vast portfolio of entrepreneurial experiences has made him an instrumental addition to our teaching staff,” said Carly Chase, EIR at MTC and MIT Sloan Lecturer. “‘Building an Entrepreneurial Venture’ is our most advanced course so it required deep knowledge, empathy, and communication skills, plus a whole lot of work. Kevin joined us this past year and exceeded any reasonable expectations, and especially stepped up during these difficult pandemic times when we needed extra help.”
In addition to his teaching, Johnson led the center’s response following the George Floyd killing to build lines of communication with the Black community at MIT to do something positive, concrete, and lasting. Not only were significant changes made to make the center more inclusive, Johnson also launched the new KINETIC platform and the KINETIC-CON conference as a result of these conversations and in collaboration with the Trust Center. Johnson’s efforts have resulted in better connections between the Trust Center and this important community, both at MIT and beyond.
“These students represent that a key foundation of entrepreneurship is building community, rooted in the belief that bringing innovative ideas together with a commitment to learning is a nurturing force that fuels all growth,” said Bill Aulet, managing director of the Trust Center. “Thank you, David, Navroop, and Kevin for your commitment to excellence.”
“Thank you so much,” David Begun said. “This gives me so much motivation and is conformation that, like many of the past winners, we are only starting and can work and build even more exciting stuff.” His development partner Nav Singh added, “It has been amazing and rewarding, the experience of building out Orbit, and I’m truly surprised and truly appreciative for the recognition.” Kevin Johnson shared, “This has been a very challenging but also very gratifying year and to work with all of the people at the Trust Center has been an honor. I know there’s even more still to come.”
The McGovern Award is given annually to an individual student or student team that, in working closely with the Trust Center, has made a significant impact on the quality and overall spirit of entrepreneurship at the Institute. The objective of the award is to motivate future student leaders, raise the profile of student-led organizations, and reward individuals for outstanding achievement in building entrepreneurial excellence.
Previous winners since the McGovern’s inception in 2000 have included Frederic Kerrest (founder of Okta), Melinda Hale (founder of Loci Controls), John Hawthorne (founder of MassChallenge), Rene Reinsberg (founder of Locu), Vanessa Green (founder of FinSix and Oceanworks), Elliot Cohen (founder of PillPack), David Spector (founder of Third Love), and more recently, Stephanie MacConnell, Anthony Cheng, Adam Zhao, Gregory Ekchian, and Ingrid Oelschlager. For a complete list of past winners, please visit entrepreneurship.mit.edu/awards.
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