Starting Up

What do you get when you take twenty students, ten parent and alumni mentors, and one Danish-born entrepreneur/facilitator and sequester them in Centennial Hall for two days in early December?  Six brand-new businesses designed to solve real-world problems, of course!  During Startup Experience, this two-day crash course in entrepreneurship, student teams are led through the process of problem identification, solution determination, customer definition, and ultimately market-product fit.  The event concludes with a Shark Tank-style pitch session to alumni and parent judges.  This year's business, many of which carried a social impact, included:

  • Next Step - a digital consulting service designed to empower youth by helping them determine if it makes more sense to matriculate to college or join the workforce
  • Package Guard - a device and service designed to secure packages at residences, thereby reducing package theft and saving recipients and retailers thousands of dollars
  • GroceryMadeEasy - an app that provides real-time health and price information designed to help consumers make smarter decisions while grocery shopping to meet their diet and budget goals
  • Spark Block - a smart home device linked to an app that helps uses artificial intelligence to help consumers reduce energy usage, saving them money and reducing their environmental impact
  • UniForum - a digital marketplace designed to facilitate the buying and selling of gently used clothing by parents within specific school communities
  • Smokeless - a medical testing and monitoring service that, in conjunction with insurance carriers, is aimed at reducing marijuana usage by teenagers

According to the judges, Package Guard had the best combination of business plan and product pitch.  But, the audience vote went instead to Spark Block.

Many of the teams will carry these ideas forward to revamp and refine them through the Spring Entrepreneurship class.