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Weekend Warriors: Startup Challenge Begins Friday

by Louis DiPietro

Beginning this Friday, Gates Hall will be the epicenter for a coffee-fueled startup weekend.

The 5th annual student-run entrepreneur program known as 3DS Cornell (3 Day Startup) gets underway at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, bringing together 40 Cornell students with skills ranging from software engineering and graphic design to business and public relations. Their goal? Collaborate to conceptualize, design and ship tech startup companies, all within the span of a single weekend. Student groups will present their startup creations to the public at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, in Gates G01, with a reception to follow.

“3DS is truly a one-of-a-kind event here at Cornell,” lead organizer Emily Hou ('16), said. “We have our hackathons; we have our case competitions, but we don't actually have anything that gets students to hit the ground running on a true startup idea. At 3DS, we encourage participants to think big and learn by doing, and that means literally any startup idea pitched here is fair game.”

As Hou noted, 3DS is extremely structured: Students who applied to participate aren’t just thrown into groups with loose instructions to create the next hot tech company. Industry mentors, including the leaders behind 3DS Cornell alums Rosieand Fly Labs, bring real-world experience and business guidance to point teams in the right direction.

“The goal of the event is to build something sustainable after the three days, so we want these startups to become as realistic, successful, and tangible as possible when the event is over,” she said.

Brainstorming sessions commence on Friday afternoon and, in the subsequent days, teams will labor to create a minimal prototype to present during Sunday night’s pitch. Ultimately, the goal is for students to walk away from 3DS with a viable company and continue to craft their venture into a success, Hou said.

“So many students on this campus have these awesome ideas but never go about pursuing or implementing them because they simply don't have the time, money, or manpower to do so,” she said. “3DS is the perfect place for these students to turn their ideas into reality.”