54-Hour Crash Course in Entrepreneurship Culminates in Wins for Fairfield Engineers

54-Hour Crash Course in Entrepreneurship Culminates in Wins for Fairfield Engineers

Members of the "Athletic Academy" team with their first survey respondent.

Fairfield University graduate students placed 2nd and 3rd at the Techstars Startup Weekend competition held in Stamford, Conn. over the September 21-23 weekend.

I think participating in this event has helped broaden my understanding of starting and maintaining a business. I would recommend it to those who are willing to get out of their comfort zones, and who are toying with the idea of becoming entrepreneurs.

— Carlos Urena, software engineering graduate student

School of Engineering graduate students joined a global movement when they teamed up with local designers, developers, and entrepreneurs for a taste of what it’s like to launch a startup business. The weekend-long competition was sponsored by Techstars, an international organization committed to fostering startup success by providing resources, mentoring, and connections to the entrepreneurial community.

The fall event followed the typical Techstars Startup Weekend model: it began on Friday night with 20 participants pitching one-minute startup ideas and receiving feedback from their peers. Alexandru Rusu, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in software engineering at Fairfield, said 60 seconds was just enough time to introduce himself and “Athletic Academy.” He quickly shared his concept – a software system to record and analyze real-time data for young athletes – and then described the kind of teammates he would need to help his idea take shape.  

Fellow software engineering graduate student, Vandana Venkat Raman, pitched an idea called “Green Books,” which she described as “a second-hand textbook exchange system where students in the same college can buy and sell their books directly to each other via an app.”

At the end of the first night, both Rusu’s “Athletic Academy” and Venkat Raman’s “Green Books” presentations were among the top ten ideas selected by popular vote to proceed.

Impressed by Rusu’s pitch, Fairfield MS program classmates Yifei Li and Nathaniel Dorelus joined “Athletic Academy,” bringing complementary skills to the team. “Nathaniel is good at software design,” explained Li, “and I have five years of business and financial analysis experience, in both primary and secondary markets.”

Venkat Raman’s “Green Books” team also picked up a couple of additional Stag software engineering graduate students, Bindu Madhavi Pesaladinne and Carlos Urena, who described the “eco-friendly solution to the ever-rising prices of college textbooks” as “interesting, feasible, and perfect for my skill set.” 

Once teams were formed, the remainder of the weekend was spent in a frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. For “Athletic Academy,” that meant building a prototype in X-code, and consulting with Techstars coaches on business strategy, technology, and marketing, in order to create a detailed business model proposal.

“Green Books” created their prototype in Adobe XD, and consulted with Techstars coaches about how to differentiate their product from major competitors such as Amazon and Chegg. After surveying college students, the “Green Books” team determined that their idea stood above the others because “students want a cheaper and easier method to buy and sell books than what is currently available in market,” explained teammate Madhavi Pesaladinne.

Sunday culminated with presentations to entrepreneurial leaders who served as judges. Each of the ten teams received critical feedback and judges selected the top three most promising startup ideas.  “Athletic Academy” was awarded 2nd place, leading Yifei Li to conjecture, “I think the reason it won is that it is useful and it has no competitor in the market.”

Upon taking 3rd place in the competition, “Green Books” collaborator Carlos Urena attributed his team’s success to the winning combination of lower cost and faster service. “Our app is better than its competitors because there are no shipping charges, packaging, or inventory... and delivery can be done mostly on the same day,” he said. “I wish I’d had this app at my disposal while I was an undergraduate.”

Urena summed up the intense 54-hour Techstars Startup Weekend experience by concluding, “I think participating in this event has helped broaden my understanding of starting and maintaining a business.  I would recommend it to those who are willing to get out of their comfort zones, and who are toying with the idea of becoming entrepreneurs.”

 

Tags:  Top Stories

Last modified: 10-12-18 9:27 AM

20181012

Your news@fairfield Stories for Friday, November 02, 2018

Fairfield's Egan Ranked Among the Top in 2019 Best Nursing Colleges in the U.S.

Read the Article

Fairfield’s Lady Ruggers Advance to Tri-State Conference Championships

Read the Article

Men's Soccer to Host MAAC Championship Action on Lessing Field, Field Hockey Plays for MAAC Title on Sunday

Read the Article

Fairfield University Art Museum To Host New England Museum Association Conference

Read the Article

Places Please! Two Evenings of Cabaret Coming to Fairfield University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts: Friday, Nov. 16 & Saturday, Nov. 17

Read the Article

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: The Human Library Returns to Fairfield on November 8

Read the Article

Fairfield's Teddy Bears With Love Program Kicks off 20th Year, Nov. 1

Read the Article

Search Results