The McFerrin Center at Mays Business school hosted a 3 Day Startup (3DS) event this weekend. The event aimed at providing budding entrepreneurs with a stage to pitch their ideas and to experience the process of creating a startup from scratch.
The event saw different ideas like a solution to increasing job-related stress, an online network for professional athletes and even an idea connecting gaming consoles wirelessly. A panel of experienced and successful entrepreneurs provided the participants with expansion ideas, positive feedbacks and critiques.
McKayla Lewis, human resource development senior and a student worker for the event, said 3DS was started with an aim to provide students with a quick opportunity to take a peek into the business world.
“It gives a crash course in business,” Lewis said. “Students learn a lot of different stuff in their classes, but this was designed to be the quickest way they can learn to build a startup.”
Lewis said the event was first organized six years ago and happens once every semester. The Spring 2018 iteration of the event saw a 100 applicants each with their own unique idea.
“The 3 Day startup event is in it’s 12th iteration this semester,” Lewis said. “We had about a 100 students applying to be part of the event this time and we had that number narrowed down to 50 after a careful selection process.”
Lewis said the event is open to any student from Texas A&M, regardless of their major or year.
“The event is open to anyone from A&M,” Lewis said. “Any major, they can be an undergrad or a grad student. This time, a few Prairie View [A&M] students have applied too.”
Lewis said the selected 50 students took part in the event that started off Friday evening with a bootcamp where about two-thirds of the ideas were pitched to a vote, with the top seven most popular ideas being selected to proceed with.
“Those selected 50 students arrived at Startup Aggieland on Friday,” Lewis said. “About 30-35 of them pitched their ideas Friday night and the ideas are voted on and we usually select the top six, but we selected one more this year because of the numbers.”
Lewis said teams were then formed around the selected ideas and the rest of the weekend was spent in a flurry of startup activities involving seeking real-world problems that needed immediate solutions to reaching out to initial clients and customers.
“Teams were formed based on the selected ideas,” Lewis said. “Saturday and Sunday, they just completely build the business model for their ideas. Sunday evening the teams then use presentations to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.”
Chuck Hinton, a director at Startup Aggieland, was among the many mentors that were available throughout the course of the event to guide the participants in the right direction.
“Once they begin talking to potential clients, some begin to realize that there is no problem to solve, they are then forced to change their idea,” Hinton said. “There is no contest, there are no winners. At the end of the day, the participants are provided with tools to find out if there are enough people out there with problems that their idea could solve. If they find enough traction, they could grow bigger and start making money off of their idea.”
Yuvaraj Sudhakar, agribusiness graduate student, was among the participants and said the event helped him learn more about how to create a startup and gain practical experience.
“I learnt a lot from the mentors and coaches,” Sudhakar said. “They hear you out and advise you. It was a well organized event and I really enjoyed my experience here. It as awesome.”
The panelists were all former students, most now members of the Aggie Angels Network, a not-for-profit organization looking to invest in startup companies.
Roland Block, associate director for Engineering Career Services, at the Career Center was on the panel as well.
“I just came back to A&M after being in the industry for 25 years,” Block said. “This is my third 3DS. I see it as an opportunity to give back. I have an engineering and a marketing background and it gives me a unique perspective.”
Block said learning opportunities that the event provided to the participants was important and was impressed with all the progress made over the course of three days.
“Being able to see students grow and blossom in such little time is just incredible,” Block said. “It is very rewarding, it teaches teamwork and collaboration. The opportunity to present in front of a crowd with people taking photos and asking questions isn’t something you get to do everyday. Employers are on the lookout for experience and team-building skills. This is a challenging and safe environment to learn those skills.”