Student entrepreneurs innovate at 3 Day Startup

Brandeis International Business School competition presents students with real-world opportunity, challenges

Sebastian Scott, MBA '15, wearing the Red Sox cap, works with his team during the 3-Day Startup event. Student teams brainstormed with industry mentors to mold effective and creative business plans in just one weekend.

Brandeis International Business School (IBS) recently hosted its third annual 3 Day Startup (3DS), a program that encourages graduate and undergraduate students to brainstorm, develop and pitch business startup plans in just 55 hours.

In conjunction with the Asper Center for Global Entrepreneurship and the Brandeis IBS Technology and Innovation Management Club, 3DS engages participants’ entrepreneurial interests and promotes independent thinking among students from different academic backgrounds.

The 3DS program is part of Brandeis’ commitment to creating and supporting intensive learning experiences with enduring impact, a central goal of the university’s strategic plan.

The competition—which has been held on four continents—guides students in turning ideas into tangible plans and connects those students to mentors, investors, and skilled colleagues during the course of a weekend. The previous two 3DS competitions have generated 21 business startups that have been accepted by accelerators and incubators for further development.

“This is a totally different learning experience compared to what other students do,” said Brandeis IBS Professor Ben Gomes-Casseres. “We turn the school into a pressure cooker for the weekend, and we very quickly train students’ entrepreneurial muscles, which is very different than studying a course over two months.”

The event took place April 4-6, beginning on Friday afternoon with a kickoff talk by Brandeis alumnus Paul Walborsky ’88, MA ’89, CEO of Gigaom. The 23 participants then divided into teams and brainstormed prospective business ideas, with the goal of having their proposal be one of the four selected for further development at MassChallenge, an annual worldwide competition that promotes and supports early-stage entrepreneurs.

Throughout the weekend, the teams conducted market research, created business plans, and identified branding opportunities for their products. Students received feedback and mentorship from faculty, visiting venture capitalists and local entrepreneurs.

Gomes-Casseres said the weekend provided the students a unique set of learning processes. First, he said, students learn by brainstorming and independently whittling ideas. Then they learn to distinguish which mentors to seek and what advice they should incorporate in their plans. The transformation of ideas during the course of the weekend, he said, is the greatest learning process.

“There’s only so much you can learn about entrepreneurship in the classroom, and eventually, you just have to go out and try it,” said Brandeis University Entrepreneurship Club President Nathan Feldman ‘14. “Perhaps the most important aspect of Brandeis 3DS is the collaborative atmosphere fostered by our high-energy environment.”

On Sunday evening, the teams pitched their business startup plans to a panel of professionals and an audience of students, faculty and alumni. The panel included MassChallenge’s Joanne Meiseles, BetaBoston’s Kyle Alspach, Grameen Bank’s Jane Ives, Brandeis IBS professor Dan Bergstresser, and Venn Capital’s Martin Sinozich. Bain & Company’s Mike McKay, an adjunct professor at Brandeis IBS, moderated the panel.  

The final ideas were:

  • BarTinder, an application that provides personalized bar recommendations
  • FrienDeed, a community platform for resource sharing
  • VapeRater, a marketplace resource for an alternative to smoking
  • Political Pulse, a political news website with content generated by citizens

Of these four, Political Pulse was selected by the judges to enter the second phase of MassChallenge, with the possibility to be part of its accelerator program in the fall.

Categories: Alumni, Business, Student Life

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