Entrepreneurial spirit generates collaboration on campus

On Friday, March 29, as most students were preparing to go home or relax for the weekend, a group of 39 students assembled at the Jones School for an event called “3DS,” the three day start-up. Think of the 3DS as a hackathon with a marketing, finance, and strategy team attached. Launched in Austin in 2008, the 3DS non-profit holds this event at top schools across the country and around the world. During the event, participants voted on ideas and separated into teams on Friday afternoon, worked through the weekend (sometimes through the night), and came up with a final product by Sunday evening.

3DS 1
Sean Burton, an undergrad participant, interacts with William Daniel, a managing partner
at Kindle Interactive, and Thierry Rignol, an engineering grad student.

3DS 2

The event was brought to campus by OwlSquad, a group of Rice University undergraduates that seek to connect and encourage entrepreneurial students at Rice. Similar to their first event, the Entrepreneurship Summit, this one achieved their goal of bringing together multi-disciplinary groups of students to demystify the start-up process and provide a platform from which to launch a business. OwlSquad partnered with the entrepreneurship club to co-host the event in McNair Hall, where the teams used the breakout rooms as their home to program, do market research, and go out on the town to assess the feasibility of their ideas.

Out of the 39 participants, nine were from the Jones School MBA program, nine were from the computer science program, and nine were from various schools in the engineering program. Other disciplines represented were cognitive sciences, mathematics, economics, and biology. Overall, three of the four teams had at least one MBA working in collaboration with Rice undergraduates. Guided by mentors from the Houston technology community, the four teams brought to life an online high-end furniture business, a hunting application, a parking application, and a website for organizing notes for research papers. At the end of the weekend, the four teams presented their “pitches” to four entrepreneur panelists and an auditorium of their peers.

OwlSquad has followed through with this event by partnering with Platform Houston, a co-working space located in the village, to provide one team with space to further develop their products.

— By David Defilippo ’14