If you find the idea of SxSW’s recent Startup Bus intriguing, here’s a similar version closer to home (without the bus).
Startup Camp (Melbourne) 2010, coordinated by Student Entrepreneurs | Agents of Change, invited 30 university students to spend a weekend this month, locked in a room, with home privileges only for sleep. The goal was to create six new web-based businesses in 48 hours. Participants included a mixture of coders, business “geeks” and graphic designers from the University of Melbourne, RMIT, Monash University and Swinburn University.
As one of the organisers of the event, I had the opportunity to observe the 30 participants as they raced against the clock to complete their online entrepreneurial ventures. The event began with participants brainstorming ideas on Friday evening, coding non-stop overnight (to have a beta version of the various websites launched to the public by Saturday noon) and completing the camp on Sunday with a pitching presentation to a panel of successful entrepreneurs and IT experts.
Here’s a list of what they had come up with in just 48 hours:
Ansr.it (www.ansr.it): Crazy questions are posted daily. Users are invited to come up with even crazier answers.
Blood Thank (www.bloodthank.com): A place for blood donation recipients to express their gratitude to the donors.
Dream, Share, Discover (www.dreamsharediscover.com): A site where users share their dreams and aspirations and receive advice.
ClassNotes (www.classnotes.com.au): A classnotes marketplace for university students.
Night Mapr (http://night-mapr.appspot.com/): An easy way to find a night event close by.
Gwisher (gwisher.com): To help hapless guys find “the perfect gift” for their girlfriends.
Personally, I loved the simplicity of Ansr.it and found it particularly fun to visit once a day, just for a laugh. For most guys Gwisher also has the potential to prevent very awkward situations when those important dates approach (the site was created by an all-male team).
But my personal favourite has to be the ClassNotes marketplace. As a university student, I understand the pain at the end of each semester facing my own pile of carefully prepared class notes. The dilemma is whether to throw away all those painstaking efforts or stack them up for dust collection. Selling them online seems to be a neat solution.
What excites me even more is the website’s potential to create a whole new knowledge market that extends beyond the ‘experts’ and ‘gurus’.
For the student participants, Startup Camp was often their first dose of real entrepreneurship. They were amazed by how much they could achieve just by applying their minds to execution, rather than mere planning (or simply dreaming), an experience shared by those who participated in last year’s Startup Camp.
One panellist at the Sunday pitch, Andrew Gerrand from Google, commented, “The quality of what these students produced was on par with that of the Sydney Startup Camp run by professional entrepreneurs.”
For future student entrepreneurs events and activities, check out http://agentsofchange.org.au.