Featured Network Partners: Microsoft BizSpark

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Featured Network Partner

Company: 3 Day Startup
Interviewee: Cam Houser, Director of Business Development

Learn by doing. That’s the philosophy of 3 Day Startup, an academic program designed to teach entrepreneurial skills in an extreme hands-on environment. Student participants have a wide range of backgrounds and come together to brainstorm, conceptualize ideas and create prototypes for Startup businesses. In just three years, 14 companies collectively raising $4 million in funding have come out of the program.

Cam Houser spoke to BizSpark about 3 Day Startup and how it’s creating a culture of entrepreneurialism for students around the world.

Q: What is 3 Day Startup?

Houser: We provide entrepreneurship education for students. When we launched about three years ago, we were students ourselves and a little bit frustrated at how entrepreneurship is taught. We wanted something more hands-on and true-to-life so we created our own program.

3 Day Startup is all about learning by doing – we walk participants through the early stages of starting a company with the goal of helping them create a real company. We bring students together from all corners of a campus ranging from freshmen to freshly-minted PhDs with diverse backgrounds including computer science, business, engineering, law, design, communications and others. They work together from Friday to Sunday to create an investor pitch and a prototype demo.

While it primarily involves students, we do have a few folks from the community and the business world who participate, too. Our final night panels are typically comprised of investors and entrepreneurs, with a few professors, too.

Q. Where are your events held?

Houser: We’ve done 13 different events at 8 schools so far. Our events have been held in the U.S., Spain, Germany, and The Netherlands. We’re open to doing them anywhere in the world where we think we can have a strong impact.

Right now we’re growing organically – people are talking to their own schools about working with us and then we help facilitate things to get the event going. Our web site explains what’s involved in running an event and how to contact us.

Q: What makes 3 Day Startup different from other weekend events?

Houser: Attendees apply to be accepted to our events – it’s not just a ‘show up’ event. They must submit a resume and be interviewed, so there is a little bit of work to do on the front end for people who want to be a part of this. We usually receive about 150 applicants and select about 40. Also, our event is completely free to participants.

Q: How do you partner with BizSpark?

Houser: One of our founding mentors knew about the program and connected us to the local BizSpark team. The team attends our events and explains what BizSpark is and how it can help Startups. Students who want to be part of BizSpark then work with Microsoft to take advantage of the software and support that’s available as they launch their businesses.

Q: Have any successful businesses risen out of your program?

Houser: Absolutely! The product of our events is not networking or slide decks – it’s real Startups.

We’ve had seven Startups move from our program into some pretty prestigious incubator and accelerator programs, such as Y Combinator, 500 Startups, DreamIt Ventures and AlphaLab.

And, so far, 14 companies launched at 3 Day Startup have cumulatively received $4 million in funding. For example, one event resulted in a company called Hoot.me, which turns Facebook into study mode for students. It just so happened that one of the panelists for that particular event was the head of the Facebook office in Austin and she loved the idea. Things took off from there for Hoot.me.

Q: What’s in the future for 3 Day Startup?

Houser: We just want to create more companies and create more entrepreneurship learning opportunities as we expand to schools in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Latin America. We believe in Startups as a way to create jobs and move the global economy forward. It’s an exciting time for startups and we’re excited about creating more entrepreneurial capabilities in students and communities as grow and evolve.

For more information, contact Cam Houser at cam@3daystartup.org