This annual event, now in its fourth year, was co-sponsored by Brandeis International Business School (IBS), the Brandeis Computer Science Department and the Asper Center for Global Entrepreneurship. It was brought to life through the devoted efforts of Brandeis IBS student Vikram Mathur, MBA '15, who coordinated nearly all aspects of the weekend.
This year’s event included students from seven different undergraduate majors, three Brandeis IBS programs, the Heller School, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The level of cross-campus and cross-discipline collaboration produced a dynamic competition featuring start-up pitches in the fields of healthcare, big data, event planning, style, and more.
“One of the amazing opportunities for me, a freshman at Brandeis, was to interact with people that are already experts in their fields,” said Samuel Zucker ’18, an undergraduate student studying economics. “My biggest takeaway was working with those people. It was not intimidating; it was just a giant learning process.”
From diverse backgrounds spring varied inventive ideas, and with the help of mentors – faculty members at Brandeis International Business School (IBS) and the Department of Computer Science – teams were able to contextualize their ideas before presenting in front of the judges on the final night of competition. “Push for Help,” the winning team at this year’s competition, received critical feedback during their mentoring session that helped them flourish in the final 24 hours of the competition.
For many, the concept of consistently tweaking, re-framing, or completely scrapping an idea can be difficult. The 3DS environment provides the best of both worlds in preparing students for this type of entrepreneurial environment with input from mentors that they know and trust. When “Push for Help” reached the final presentations, their start-up idea (aimed at helping people suffering from mental illness and depression) had evolved significantly from its initial form, thanks to adaptations based on mentor feedback.
This year’s judging panel comprised seasoned professionals in the entrepreneurial sphere. Joanna Meiseles, Senior Director of Operations for MassChallenge and Founder and Creative Director of The Snip-its Corporation, returned for a second year as a member of the panel.
“It’s a great exercise in discovering business solutions to obvious problems,” she said. “The brainstorming, research, decision-making, and team dynamic issues are ones that will be encountered multiple times in any career.”
3DS judge Jay Batson, who has founded four companies over the course of his career, (including one of Acquia’s anchor tech companies, Acquia) was equally enthusiastic. When asked what advice he would provide to future students interested in the competition, Batson said, “Do it! The process of having to put everything together in one place to think about, plan & pitch a business gives you a chance to bring together all kinds of stuff - marketing, finance, sales, product, and team dynamics. The experience will absolutely be worth your time.”