Startup Weekend Sparks Entrepreneurial Spirit Within Students

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business? Creating a business plan, developing a minimum viable product, and gathering investors or potential customers is extremely challenging. TechstarsStartup Weekend makes the process even more difficult, by challenging teams of diverse people to create a business in 54 hours.

Startup Weekend is a national campaign that takes place across the United States in different cities. It’s used to inspire innovation and entrepreneurial thinking among its participants. Students with the Ball State Digital Corps took that challenge and worked to create their own businesses at Startup Weekend Muncie.

At Startup Weekend events, individuals are invited to pitch their own ideas that are later voted on by the entire group of attendees. The pitches with the highest number of votes become teams, and businesses are built out from there. Startup Weekend Muncie 2019 experienced an unprecedented number of individuals who pitched their own idea, hoping to build on their business.

Sea Williams, a Video Team member with the Digital Corps, attended Startup Weekend Muncie for the first time this year. While they ultimately joined a different team, Sea was one of the many individuals who pitched their own idea.

“It was just really cool to have all of these like-minded people who were not only interested in starting something new, but also had the momentum and energy to get up and try to convince other people to go with them on it,” said Sea.

Sea Williams (left) poses with his team, who won second place at Startup Weekend Muncie 2019, in front of Ontario Systems, where the competition took place.

Aside from their major focus in TCOM at Ball State, Sea is also pursuing an Entrepreneurship Minor in the Miller College of Business. “I’m taking a few marketing classes and management classes this semester, and I had the opportunity to take what I’m learning in my classes and put them to the test over the course of 54 hours.”

Like Sea, Jolee Edge, a graduate assistant with the Digital Corps studying in the Emerging Media Design and Development program at Ball State, also participated in her first ever Startup Weekend Muncie. Jolee was interested in gaining more leadership experience in a business environment, and did so through her involvement over the Weekend. Through her understanding of user experience design and the importance of prototype testing, Jolee joined a team of students in creating an app prototyping tool for budding entrepreneurs.

While Startup Weekend is extremely exciting for teams, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes team dynamics aren’t all that they hope to be, and disagreements arise among team members. Jolee learned quickly that while she disagreed with her team on certain decisions, understanding how to effectively work with people you disagree with is essential to progressing through the project. “

I guess working with people who have a more leadership-based personality rather than a collaborative personality was frustrating,” Jolee said. “But I felt like I dealt with it in a productive way. I would confront problems right away! We all have to meet this goal, so we need to pull our own weight.”

Eli Sokeland, a developer with the Digital Corps, worked with Jolee on her team to build an app prototyping tool for young entrepreneurs. This was Eli’s second Startup Weekend.

“I participated in it last year and I really enjoyed the experience. I wanted to meet new people again and have another go!”

Eli discovered that despite doing Startup Weekend previously, he learned plenty of new things. Last year, he focused on developing an actual website for his team, and wasn’t as involved in the business development process. This year, he made a point to work closely with his team to help build the business.

Eli Sokeland (second from left) and Jolee Edge (second from right) present their idea for an app prototyping tool at Startup Weekend Muncie 2019.

“I also got to really see different perspectives from students this time around. They were all from the business college, so I got to learn about their perspectives on how to run a startup,” said Eli.

Startup Weekend turned out to be a challenging weekend for Digital Corps employees, but every single one of them enjoyed the experience and recommend it to a friend. Sea’s team earned second place in the competition, and they plan on working together in the future to continue building out their business.

“The most important thing was to not lose momentum. I spent a good portion of my day yesterday to set up a time to meet on a weekly basis for an hour. We have vague ideas on what we want to talk about.”

To learn more about Startup Weekend, visit their website to find a location near you, or follow the Startup Weekend Muncie Facebook Page for future announcements.

The Digital Corps provides a unique on-campus job for undergraduate and graduate students with aspirations to work in innovative and creative fields. Digital Corps students work on real-world projects in a collaborative environment. They also learn technical and professional skills that supplement the instruction they receive in traditional academic classes. Combined with the high-quality work in their portfolio,Digital Corps students are uniquely situated to impact the professional world upon graduation.

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