Jan 19, 2024

Meet a Mentor – Ken

MIT and the 90’s

Ken Kasegawa isn’t your average entrepreneur. Go back to the mid-1990s, and you could find Ken studying strategy and entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. This was back when the internet was relatively new and opened the world to new ways of accessing information.

While at MIT, he participated in a class called Entrepreneurship Lab, working as an intern at a Boston-based startup. This experience was enough to spark a new interest in Ken as he interacted with new technology and founders while getting to experience entrepreneurship firsthand. 

MIT’s alumni network eventually got him connected with Laurie Stach, the founder of LaunchX – allowing him to mentor students who share passion for entrepreneurship. 

Developing as an entrepreneur in Japan

Years later, he worked for Amazon Japan. He was Vice President responsible for Consumer Marketing and Prime. He had the opportunity to lead the efforts of promoting Working Backwards – where all Amazonians start with the customer and work backwards to create innovative products and services. 

In 2018, Ken started his own consulting company, CustomerPerspectives Inc., and now advises clients in digital strategy, marketing, and new business development. Further, he is currently investing in early to late stage startups in industries like AI, healthcare, and financial services.

These experiences have informed Ken’s experiences and allows him to guide students through the entrepreneurship process with a highly practical approach. 

Helping the next generation

Ken sees incredible value in working with the next generation of passionate entrepreneurship students. For the past 4 years, he has served as a mentor for the LaunchX Online Entrepreneurship Summer Program, helping teams get over the finish line and launch a business in just 5 weeks.  

He has aided teams like EcoGo (a LaunchX alum) in successfully launching their business. EcoGo has been nominated for multiple international awards. Ken’s insight and guidance have helped teams create incredible startups every year he has served. 

It is through these 4 years that Ken has seen 5 important long-lasting skills that students learn during the program. The students’ experiences have caused Ken to recommend the LaunchX programs to high school students looking to grow and develop their skills. 

When asked why he likes being an instructor at LaunchX, he says “Getting to know so many talented students who will create our future. It is my real pleasure when students find my advice helpful. Networking with mentors in varied professional backgrounds is also wonderful.” His entrepreneurial experience is exciting, and he loves sharing it with students. Yet, he sees the lessons as even more valuable. 

For Ken, even if you never start another startup in your life, the skills you learn are critical to any business. The knowledge, experience, and skills translate to whatever your journey may take you in the future.

Advice for students

When asked what his advice is for students interested in entrepreneurship, Ken wants students to always clarify and validate ideas. Know exactly who your target audience is and continue to refine your value proposition. Talk to customers and build your product use case out of the actual problems they are facing. 

He has found that most students have good instincts and good ideas. Though it may sound easy or apparent, many students don’t take the time to talk to potential customers and validate or calibrate the idea until the target customers love it. Testing the product with potential customers will make your ideas truly shine. 

Why is LaunchX different?

Ken has worked with LaunchX for the past 4 years and is looking forward to the next year. When asked what makes LaunchX different from other entrepreneurship summer programs, Ken said, “LaunchX is truly unique. I don’t know of any other summer programs with such extensive entrepreneurial content, experienced instructors, diverse mentors, and an international student body.” 

If you want to get connected with Ken, or ask questions to him, you can email him or reach out on LinkedIn

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