University students are being encouraged to attend a 48-hour start-up “hackathon”, hosted by Student Entrepreneurs, to gain insight into the start-up scene and develop their ideas into viable businesses.
Student Entrepreneurs, a student-led entrepreneurship group based at the University of Melbourne, will host Startup Hackathon on August 12-14, during which time students will launch start-ups.
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The weekend will culminate in a “demo day party” on Sunday afternoon, at which the start-ups will be on display to an audience consisting of angel investors and other industry heavyweights.
Amir Nissen, founder and manager of Student Entrepreneurs, says he’s hoping the event will attract between 30 and 50 students. The event is open to all university tech students in Victoria.
“The doors open at 6pm [on Friday] for pizza and beer. The students then form teams and go through a brainstorming workshop,” he says.
“By midnight, they should have registered a domain for their start-up. They then work nonstop until something’s built. Ideally, it should be something they can build in two hours, rather than a day.”
“Come Sunday afternoon, they need to have a live, working, web-based business.”
Nissen says he will encourage students to apply for the program in teams, claiming this approach is more realistic of how start-ups are formed.
“They need co-founders they know they can work with… Teams can’t be bigger than four – I find teams with more than four co-founders don’t work so well,” he says.
“If they’ve got an idea, great. If not, that’s what the brainstorming is for. If they do have an idea, it should be something they’re just starting to work on rather than something that’s built already.”
Nissen says the event is held over 48 hours to highlight how easy it is to start a business.
“Once you’ve done a hackathon, you realise how much you can get done in a short space of time. The students realise the key is to build something and see if it flies, which is a better way of doing a tech start-up these days,” he says.
At the demo day, Nissen says students won’t be asked to pitch their ideas because “you can spend weeks on pitches to get them right”. They will, however, have to answer questions.
Nissen says while student entrepreneurship in Australia isn’t thriving, students are just as capable as their older counterparts of starting up businesses.
“Students are not that different [from older entrepreneurs]. In terms of their output, they’re just as good as the grown-ups,” he says.
“Students are particularly good at trying to solve a problem – they tend to come up with stuff that solves their own problems. For example, if they’re having trouble finding casual or one-off jobs, they create job sites.”