A worldwide phenomenon called Startup Weekend reached the Peoria area for the first time in November of 2013. This three day event was hosted by Bradley University’s Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, The Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, and Startup Peoria. Participants turned nine 60 second proposals into full-fledged five minute presentations.
Students who participated in Startup Weekend gained valuable insights into the industry. While they had been taught many aspects of presenting proposals, Startup gave them the opportunity to experience a business project from start to finish. This experience allowed each student to more fully understand the specific information that investors want to see within presentations.
“Now I know what real investors are looking for when an entrepreneur walks up to them with an idea,” said Daniel Masrin, a junior business management and administration major. “As an entrepreneur, you have to be ready to answer any question whether it is in regards to the financial aspect of the company or if it is the simple question of what makes you different from people already doing this.”
Most students found the most difficult part of Startup Weekend was the time crunch. Participants had only three days to complete their projects and present them to the judges. Within this time, they needed to decide the direction of their project, discuss the best way to accomplish their goal, complete the project, and put together a presentation. Many students wished they had more time to fully discuss the direction of their proposals.
“Although we accomplished a lot during our 54 hours, we could have used days to discuss individual ideas and viewpoints on how STEM has played a role in our lives,” said senior entrepreneurship major Sara Lewis. “The concept we had pivoted several times due to the lack of time for complete discussion; therefore, leaving us somewhat dissatisfied with the bare bones of our outcome business.”
Despite the short time spent, many students found the hands-on experience invaluable and discovered new approaches to preparing projects. The event not only furthered their skills as future entrepreneurs but also allowed them to meet other innovative people.
“Startup Weekend is a great place to meet local entrepreneurs. I was able to make very powerful connections,” said Peter Gombos, a business administration graduate student.