3 Day Startup Experience
This past weekend I participated in ‘3 Day Startup Cornell’ a program whose goal is to inspire entrepreneurial students to form teams, develop their ideas, and get a Start-up off the ground in 3 days. Going into the weekend as a sophomore undergraduate, it was a breath of fresh air to be surrounded with Juniors, Seniors, and even MBA’s with varied backgrounds and skills. In addition to the participants, there was a host of start-up savvy mentors who had all either participated in the program last year, were established venture capitalists, or had been heavily involved in start-ups before. The program itself was sponsored by Ebay, Amazon, Originate, Microsoft and a host of other fantastic companies.
Going through an organic process of pitching ideas, getting feedback from the group, and moving forward by taking solid action steps to bring the ideas to fruition, I felt like the entire group bubbled with an overwhelming sense of enthusiasm for the different possibilities at hand. The interesting thing about the entire event was that it was essentially just a helping hand – a bicycle with training wheels – to use a metaphorical comparison. All of us had ideas that we wanted to/wished we could implement coming into the program. It was then merely the lack of a proper team with the appropriate skill-set and a general sense of how to move forward that had stumped all the would-be entrepreneurs in the room from actually implementing and succeeding with their ideas.
What many may not realize however, is that this last part – the actual execution of the idea – is actually the hardest part of the process. Ideas can be had by anyone, but the hard part is this – bringing them to fruition successfully. This requires that we form teams that bring different skills to the table, and implement a minimum viable product on which we can get feedback and do product testing on. This requires the passion-driven hours of work that we spent holed up at a lounge in Upson Hall. This requires that we be willing to distance ourselves from our ideas to see their faults clearly, even if we have poured our souls into them. This requires guidance and mentor-ship from people who have been there and done that. All this and more is what the 3 Day Start-up Cornell experience meant for me.
At the end of the long weekend, we ended up pitching our idea to a panel consisting of 5 venture capitalists and Start-up founders and had the opportunity to receive feedback from all of them. The number one comment that all of them gave us was that even if we thought our idea was great, many others in the world could have also potentially thought of the same thing. The key to succeeding then was to differentiate ourselves by putting our own personal footprint on the product and getting the first wave of users to buy into it. Luckily, as a college student I realized I still had time to develop the idea without needing money to support myself. A thoroughly expansive learning experience the likes of which I had never been through before, the 3 Day Start-up weekend proved to be the ultimate bootcamp for me to get my feet wet in the world of Entrepreneurship.