News, On Campus

McDermott Highlights Resilience at Shea Center Talk

During the early, uncertain stages of entrepreneurship, there is no skill more helpful than resilience, according to Jimmy McDermott.

“I think if you have the ability to not get discouraged when learning something gets hard, that’s kind of the superpower,” McDermott, BC ’21, said.

McDermott, co-founder and CTO of K-12 EdTech startup PATHWAYos, spoke at the Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship on Wednesday to share his journey of starting a business after graduating from Boston College in 2021.

According to McDermott, resilience is not an innate or uncommon trait.

“I think that you can learn resiliency,” McDermott said. “I think it gets harder the older that you get, and the younger that you’ve learned it, the better it is.”

McDermott also said people should take opportunities to be resilient in complicated situations. Given its significance to entrepreneurship, McDermott recommended starting the process sooner rather than later.

Resilience played a critical role in establishing PATHWAYos, McDermott said.

“We had no money,” he said. “We were bootstrapped for the first two years, and so we were paying ourselves nothing, and I think we ran the first two years of the company on like $7,000.”

As the startup grew, McDermott said he shifted from engineering software to strategizing how to land PATHWAYos larger deals.

In 2023, McDermott and his colleagues decided to sell PATHWAYos to Vector Solutions.

“I’m happy with it, it worked out,” McDermott said. “But it was an interesting process to go through, to try to understand.”

McDermott compared selling the company to fundraising for it and said he and his colleagues looked at the market from a fundraising and a customer perspective. They also studied the product landscape and how buyers were shifting, he said.

“How do you underwrite if this is the right moment or not?” McDermott said.

After the sale, McDermott joined a workgroup for Swift, Apple’s iOS programming language.

“I learned a lot about some of those skills that people come out of big companies learning, in terms of managing health and politics,” McDermott said.

According to McDermott, college is an ideal space for exploring business ideas.

“College is the perfect time to take the biggest risks,” McDermott said. “Because if you fall down tomorrow, you can still walk into the dining hall and get food. You can still go in your dorm and go to sleep.”

March 16, 2024

Leave a Reply