Business school holds '3 Day Startup' challenge
Students had 54 hours to brainstorm, create and pitch new companiesIn a world of real-time Tweets and overnight shipping, Brandeis International Business School (IBS) students have also stepped up the pace – by challenging themselves to create business startup plans from scratch in the space of just 54 hours.
This past weekend the school’s Technology and Innovation Management Club (TIMC) hosted its inaugural “3 Day Startup” (3DS), an intensive entrepreneurial boot camp in which student teams brainstormed, assembled and pitched new tech-based companies over the course of a weekend.
The first challenge of its kind to be held in New England, the event was organized as a collaboration with 3DS, an entrepreneurship education program that emphasizes experiential learning.
The group of 40 participants included graduate and undergraduate students with diverse skill sets ranging from management to computer science to the arts. Contestants met at Brandeis International Business School on Friday to brainstorm dozens of ideas, vote on the best five and divide into teams. Less than two days later, they delivered their pitches and prototype demonstrations to a panel of entrepreneurs, VCs and investment professionals.
The caffeine-fueled, sleep-deprived roller coaster of a weekend found teams working into the late hours of the morning and running around town to meet with potential customers. Throughout the event they received coaching and proposal evaluations from faculty members and visiting entrepreneurs. On Saturday morning, the law firm Latham & Watkins gave a presentation on legal issues faced by startups.
“Most students had not done any research before they walked in the doors on Friday, so this truly was an experiment in concentrated, out-of-the-box thinking,” said TIMC President Gautam Chauhan MBA ’12. “It was a great example of Brandeis IBS and its entrepreneurial spirit.”
Among the final ideas were:
• Teachify, analytics software for high schools to track student progress
• HRMind, a human resource tool to improve the talent acquisition process through linguistic analytics
• Campus Tribe, a male version of HerCampus, a popular website written by and for college students
• PlayDate, a dynamic social-networking app that shows users what games their friends are playing
• PLANit, an online service to help 20-somethings plan customized date itineraries
Jessica Stanford MBA ’12 previously worked as a financial analyst at Twentieth Century Fox, and said that she always assumed she would pursue a more traditional business path after graduating. After working with the Campus Tribe at 3DS, though, she said she is starting to reconsider her options.
“If a company like this could take off, I’d drop everything to make it happen,” she said. “Passion is an essential quality for a person’s career, and if a project inspires me to want to come in early on a Sunday morning to tackle it, that’s a healthy sign that it’s something worth exploring.”
The Brandeis event attracted media attention from the Boston Herald, the Boston Business Journal and BostInno. Previous 3DS events in six countries have culminated in 16 companies collectively raising four million dollars in investment.
For students, this weekend marked just the beginning. At the end of the final presentations on Sunday, several panelists described the ideas as fundable, and John Chory of Latham and Watkins advised the groups to "take tomorrow off, get some sleep, and then roll up your sleeves and keep these projects going.”
“There’s plenty of potential,” he said. “But still a lot of work to be done."