The Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering partnered with the College of Business Administration’s Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship to bring together engineers, entrepreneurs, designers, innovators and more to develop viable businesses over 54 hours for Startup Weekend 2017.
“Startup Weekend is a business plan competition merged with a hackathon structure, where people from different industries and backgrounds come together and build a business,” said Darlene Fukuji, associate director of the Fred Eisner Center for Entrepreneurship.
Participants formed teams based on interests and skills and, with the help of coaches, created plans for viable businesses. All participants walked away from the competition with a business plan they could pursue and continue to work on after the weekend’s conclusion.
“I’m a little nervous,” said Daniel Melin, an engineering major. “I’m a freshman and this is my first time doing this. But I’m excited because I know there’s a lot of potential. We brainstormed our target audience, potential competition, team names, all sorts of things. I’m excited to see where we can go with this.”
On the first day of competition, participants pitched their initial ideas, and networked among each other to learn more about the concepts and each others skill set. Participants voted for the top pitches and formed their teams for the weekend.
On day two, teams continued to hone their ideas and went out into the community to test their market viability. Coaches, active in the start-up community, were on hand to help teams one-on-one.
“There’s a lot of really excited students and community members looking to launch businesses,” said coach Christopher Stern ’93, who earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at LMU and now works in Strategy and Corporate Development at Trimble Inc. “My job is to help them formulate ideas and give them guidance based on the experience I have doing this. I hope to stimulate some good thinking so teams will come up with interesting ideas that will change the world.”
The weekend concluded on day three with final presentations. Teams presented their final, fleshed-out and tested business plans to their peers, coaches and three judges from the start-up community.
“We evolved a lot from where we started,” said Charity Waddy, a senior mechanical engineering major. “We originally were just a device you could put in the tub to heat up the water and release a bubble bath. We’ve pivoted a lot. We’ve done a lot of market research. We’ve been able to see what people actually want. We’ve been able to develop our product and our brand and make something that people are really going to want to buy.”
Which team walked away with first place bragging rights? Check out the video.