3 Day Startup fosters student business opportunities

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News Reporter
Mario Hernandez, 3DS mentor, drafts a business plan March 28 in McCoy College of Business.

Texas State students interested in starting businesses before graduating had the opportunity to hone their entrepreneurial skills over the weekend.

3 Day Startup (3DS), an entrepreneurial workshop program, was held March 27-29 in the McCoy College of Business. The University of Texas established 3 Day Startup in 2008, and the program has expanded to 60 institutions in five continents.

Mario Hernandez, masters student and 3DS mentor, said pitching ideas at the workshop was a challenge the first time he participated.

“You have an idea for something that you think (can be) a business, a startup, and the idea of taking it to potential customers immediately and sharing it with them was not anything I was familiar with,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t realize that was the way of doing things.”

The mentors involved in 3DS taught participants how to improve their ideas, Hernandez said.

Hernandez once had a mentor who advised participants to share ideas even if they did not think they were very good.

“I remember somebody saying that they had an idea, but it wasn’t a very good idea, and the mentor said, ‘That’s okay, throw the idea out there, because you never know—somebody at your table might have that missing piece that’s going to make your idea a great idea,’” Hernandez said.

Hernandez went on to co-found EDable, a startup providing educational videos for teachers. He used his experience to mentor new 3DS participants after he graduated.

Clayton Lehman, another participant-turned-mentor and management senior, said he was able to bring data from his 3DS experience with an automotive repair service to help participants.

“This program made me go out and speak to real-life people one-on-one,” Lehman said.

Lehman went out and conducted a survey as a part of 3DS. His research showed 80 percent of people work on their own cars, while 15 percent go to a shop.

“I still use those (statistics) to this day when I talk to people about my idea,” Lehman said.

Mentors had the opportunity to help students grow their business ideas outside of the program, said Maureen Pafumi, masters student and 3DS participant. Her team pitched Pure Clean Products, a company designed to distribute non-toxic, all-purpose cleaner through farmers markets.

Pafumi and her team had the opportunity to talk with representatives from Greenling, a company distributing organic produce, through 3DS. A mentor heard the team discussing its idea and put the group in contact with the company.

Laura Kilcrease, director for the Center for Entrepreneurial Action (CEA), said 3DS brings diverse teams of students together as a reflection of real-life situations in the business world.

“This is a very interdisciplinary activity,” Kilcrease said. “In real life, if they go out and try to get jobs, that’s simply what they’re going to do. They’re going to be working with other people in different disciplines.”

Half of 3DS participants are in disciplines other than business administration, said David Cameron, Department of Management lecturer.

“I think it’s really delightful that we have business, English, art, science, biology (and) architecture,” Cameron said. “All sorts of people come to this thing. I think that’s just how business is, too.”

3DS hosted teams with ideas in different industries.

Oasis Farms, a startup team at 3DS, developed an inexpensive way to provide “aquaponics” systems, said Sebastian Longoria, microbiology sophomore and program participant.

“The aquaponics system is a balancing between fish and the growing of vegetation or vegetables in a closed loop water system,” Longoria said.

Bad Habits Hookah Lounge, another startup team, pitched a new establishment for the Square in San Marcos.

“We’re trying to bring together a college vibe,” said Taylor Henry, electrical engineering junior. “Kind of like a bad-habits, Vegas-themed sports bar that would have hookah, beer and wine.”

3DS has “no winners,” Kilcrease said. The teams’ goal was to refine their skills at pitching business ideas to new people. Judges acknowledge the strengths of all teams and reward them with small prizes for categories they excelled in, she said.

The event is part of Texas State’s move toward cultivating collaborations on campus. CEA sought to bridge the gap between the schools and bring students with a variety of skills together for startups. Kilcrease hopes to create an environment in which student entrepreneurs can flourish.