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University 3-Day-Startup Entrepreneurship Program Expands to More Colleges

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2017 - 6:06 AM Business , Engineering , Arts and Sciences , All News

"This weekend helped me see myself and the world in a different way"

  • Engineering students Brayden Chevillet of Dalton, MA, Greyton Morales of Indian Orchard, Jorge Montanez of Springfield, C. J. Westbrook of East Hampton CT, and Nathaniel Dintzner of Feeding Hills, developed an efficient portable food warmer for meal delivery use.

  • L to R: Evan Choquette, Chris Urchioli, Mike Beliniski, and Ryan Noon, all from the Any Caf√© Team

  • Professor Harlan Spotts, Ashley Bonilla, Alexandra Grabiec, Nasser Al Aumari, and Ahmed Izzuldeen

  • L to R: Ryan Parada from WNE, ¬†Alessandra Massa from Mt Holyoke, Bryce Paquette from WNE, and Kate Meacham from Mt Holyoke

  • Five Western New England engineering students from five different countries including, left to right: Sergio Rojas from Bolivia, Muhanna AlMuhanna from Saudia Arabia, Joe Wetzel from New York, Wojciech Kochanczyk from Poland, and Srutti Garrum from India. The team developed a pet-feeding device with remote video, audio, and operational controls.

  • Mount Holyoke students Rosie Xu, a theater major from China, and Phatnari Akkharakamonsit, an economics major from Vietnam, developed an imaging app they call Shutter.

  • The panel of judges included Jay Leonard, director of the Springfield Venture Fund; Samalid Hogan, director of the western regional office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network; and Stan Kowalski, chairman & CEO of FloDesign Sonics.

  • Jose Garcia, Biomedical Engineering major from Lincoln RI, Lexi Turgeon Computer Engineering major from Southampton MA, Edward Mcleavy 2nd year Entrepreneurship major at STCC, from Westfield MA, and Desmond Hall, Computer Science major from Waterbury CT, developed high-tech bio-socks to protect feet from damage while running in cold weather.

  • L to R: Smith College student, Desmond Hall , Lexi Turgeon, Ed McLeavy and Jose Garcia.

Western New England University in partnership with Smith College and Mount Holyoke College, recently held the third annual 3-Day-Startup (3DS) event for students with an entrepreneurial spirit. 3DS is a series of entrepreneurship workshops that give students real-life experience in creating a start-up company, and is held over a rigorous three-day weekend. Student entrepreneurs from four other regional institutions participated this year for the first time including Smith, Mount Holyoke, Springfield Technical Community, and Hampshire Colleges. Springfield-based Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) donated its headquarters as the workspace, and helped provide local entrepreneur mentors and facilitators. Undergraduate and graduate students in all majors were invited to participate. In total, 41 students formed 8 teams to compete for support to help launch their business ideas.

On Friday evening, teams formed and brainstormed their business ideas. On Saturday and Sunday, the student teams gathered information, solved problems, explored the finances and marketing aspects, and fine-tuned the feasibility of the proposed businesses. Sunday evening they presented their product concepts to a panel of investor-judges. Local entrepreneurs with successful businesses mentored the students throughout the weekend including Logan Carlson, a 2016 graduate of Western New England, who launched AnyCafé, a successful start-up business that began at 3DS two years ago. AnyCafe’s travel brewer went on to raise nearly $100,000 on Kickstarter.com, and is expected to land on retailer shelves some time next year.

“This weekend helped me see myself and the world in a different way,” explained Western New England sophomore Ashley Bonilla, a computer engineering major from Chicopee. “It was a really intense experience with a team that had a clear mission, and we all felt like we couldn’t fail. We learned to think in new ways, how to evaluate the product strengths and weaknesses, and make good decisions quickly.”

The panel of judges included Jay Leonard, director of the Springfield Venture Fund; Samalid Hogan, director of the western regional office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network; and Stan Kowalski, chairman & CEO of FloDesign Sonics. 

“My team included finance, management, entrepreneurship, and computer science majors,” said Nasser Al Aumari, Western New England senior mechanical engineering major from Saudia Arabia. “While I was designing the technical part of the project, I was also helping research the finance, and the marketing, and that taught me a lot about product development.”

On Sunday evening, each team project was carefully scrutinized by the panel of judges, and evaluated for viability. The students were offered advice on how to continue advancing their product ideas and told of additional resources they might use. They were all commended for their innovative product concepts and encouraged to pursue their ambitions as entrepreneurs.