Student-oriented Startup Weekend preps business ideas for market

Students at the UNL Startup Weekend last fall collaborating to make their business idea into a reality

Students at the UNL Startup Weekend last fall collaborating to make their business idea into a reality

By Lindsey Berning, NewsNetNebraska

Friday night, it’s a pitch. By Sunday, it’s a business.

Between then, participants in Startup Weekend at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will have help from coaches and teamwork to get their idea ‘market-ready’ for judging on Sunday.

“The whole thing is ‘how do you start a company or a business and accelerate that process?’” HIVE Outreach Coordinator Sourabh Chakraborty said. “You know how sometimes you have this idea that will just gestate in your brain for months? Startup Weekend is to accelerate that process so that you’re done with that initial bump of getting started and find the teammates that you need to start a company from there.”

Startup Weekend is open to anyone in the community who wants to participate. But this weekend’s event is unique because it is geared toward college students. Young professionals usually attend startup weekends because they tend to have more skills and more knowledge of the business world than students, Chakraborty said.

HIVE is doing three things to make it easy for college students:

  1. Optional workshops to help with four things: making an idea financially practical, understanding a business model, splitting equity with team members, and making a good business pitch
  2. Open labs for consultation from graphic designers, creative people, coders, and business and finance experts
  3. Pair each team with a coach who knows what direction they want to go in, and be able to practice their pitch three times before pitching to the judges Sunday night
Students at the UNL Startup Weekend last fall collaborating to make their business idea into a reality

Students at the UNL Startup Weekend last fall collaborating to make their business idea into a reality

“I have an idea for a Board Shop that I would like to pitch,” said Joe Moore, a student at UNL. “I have been working on this idea for awhile and would love for my team to go with me on that idea. If my team decides to go on a different route, I’m ok with that too. I’m just excited to get started.”

Moore wants to start a shop that would provide products for snowboarding, long boarding, skateboarding and wakeboarding. Locally there is only one small shop similar to this in Lincoln and one 50 miles away in Omaha, he said.

“I will bring something new to the market with a large variety of products and a lounge for skaters to just ‘chill,’” Moore said.

Another UNL student, Cassey Lottman, attended a similar Startup Weekend on campus last fall.

“I loved my experience at Startup Weekend last fall,” Lottman said. “I gained valuable experience in thinking critically about business models and working out issues with a team.”

UNL Startup Weekend is not just for business students, Chakraborty said. It is for any idea in any area. For example, it could be related to health, technology, hospitality, or even a unique restaurant idea.

UNL HIVE is a collaborative student community that helps students build ideas. They do this by bringing in people from different skill sets into one environment so that they can share insights, Chakraborty said. This event is put on by HIVE, UNL Association for Computing Machinery, UNL Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization and UNL Ad Club.

“You’re just investing 54 hours of your life to see if it will work or not,” Chakraborty said. “Which traditionally is a very cheap investment compared to the thousands of dollars people will pitch into and see if that experiment works or not.”

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