By ARDEN IGLEHEART
While some students will still be recovering from Halloween debauchery next month, others will have made a complete prototype for a business and have it judged, Shark Tank style, in front of their peers. About 30 students will pitch their business model during Global Startup Weekend, an event spanning 54 hours. This event will be held at UT for the first time, running from Nov. 13 to 15.
Students across all different majors come together, form teams, and work towards developing a startup. One of the main goals of the event is to get students who are in different disciplines to use each other’s strengths.
“When everybody arrives they will actually get a nametag that’s coded based on what their area of expertise is,” said assistant professor of entrepreneurship and community organizer for the event, Dr. Eric Liguori. “The idea is that when you’re building a startup team you want a diverse group of people. And so if you’re a tech focused person you might need a business person to help, you might need a graphics person to help. And if you’re a business focused person, you might have a tech idea and you need a software person to help you get the website going and you need a graphics person to do the logo, so the idea is to foster more interdisciplinary collaboration and connection than we might do otherwise”.
Students attending this event have a variety of backgrounds in entrepreneurship, with all different areas of interest and levels of experience.
“My background in Entrepreneurship is small, but is headstrong. I began a sport in middle school that I had no idea would turn into what it is today. While my form of entrepreneurship is a little different than most, I plan on opening my own state-of-the-art all-star cheerleading gym in several years, as coaching cheerleading has become quite a passion of mine,” said Brianna Cronin, a junior Management major and an internal marketing coordinator for the event. “My goal is be completely prepared to open my business by the time I graduate from the University.”
Jimmy Uteg III, a senior entrepreneurship major, and, along with Cronin, internal marketing coordinator, has had a variety of experiences with entrepreneurship.
“I have started a few small businesses during high school, and I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset when facing problems,”said Jimmy Uteg III, senior entrepreneurship major and, along with Cronin, internal marketing coordinator.
Any student who attends can pitch an idea for a startup. Students have just 60 seconds to pitch an idea, and they vote for the top pitches. Eight to 12 ideas will advance, and students will then form teams around these ideas and begin work on these business model.
“I am looking forward to the initial pitches to see all the amazing ideas that are going to be worked on all weekend,” Uteg said.
Throughout the weekend, teams will have the opportunity to meet with experienced entrepreneurs and professionals such as Brent Britton, technology lawyer and former computer scientist and software engineer, and Teena Cardozo, founder of the branding agency BrandMunki. These professionals will advise teams on their business model.
“It’s three days of essentially cramming in, working on a really cool idea that you actually like, not a class project that you’re forced to do and you know you need to do great on,” Liguori said. “You do it over this 54 hour period of time, so it’s condensed, with a start and and end period, there’s a lot of caffeine, you’re pretty well fed, you meet some really interesting people, there’s usually just a really intense, high energy, high caffeine, high adrenaline, type event.”
By Sunday, attendees will have a presentation and a completed business model to will be evaluated by the judges. One of the judges will be Jody Haneke, founder of Haneke design, a software and website design firm. Judges will award a first and second place winner.
Anyone interested in watching the judging can visit the Lowth Entrepreneurship Center on the eighth floor of the Innovation and Collaboration building at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15.
“The one thing that I will not be looking forward to is when the weekend is over and the teams disperse, usually leaving the idea to wait for the next pitch competition instead of continuing the idea to become a real business,” Uteg said.
Organizers hope the event will help students in their future careers. They hope to attract any and every student at UT who might want to start a business one day.
“We think it’s a great opportunity for students to go network, to meet community leaders, entrepreneurs that are out there that are very successful, that are willing to come in and mentor them and to help them in any way they can,” Uteg said.