3 Day Startup Thrusts Students Into Entrepreneurship

The event, held in April, attracted students who were new to the Magnuson Center.

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Avery Sholes, D’24, had an idea for an app that could streamline tipping, digitalizing the tipping process across various industries. He had spoken to friends and mentors about his idea and felt it had promise, but he was waiting until the summer to explore the next steps.

Then, he received an email about the 3 Day Startup, a program sponsored by the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship. The 3 Day Startup (3DS) organization hosts free events on campuses around the country to give students a hands-on experience with entrepreneurship.

“3DS is a three-day, crash-course program that runs you through the early stages as a founder,” says Nick Chagin, the 3DS coordinator for Dartmouth.

Although the event was held virtually this spring due to the pandemic, the premise was the same: students would spend 3 days developing an idea, conducting customer research, learning from mentors and pitching. For Sholes, it seemed like just the right opportunity.

“I had no idea where to start that sort of process, so when I got the email about the 3 Day Startup, it seemed like the perfect storm,” he says. “I can get that initial pitch out there, hone the idea, and learn about the next steps.”

Sholes’ startup — tipd — is one of six ideas that were brought to life during the 3DS hosted remotely by the Magnuson Center April 9-11. For Sholes, the event provided an opportunity to jumpstart his concept.

“It went from a very flawed idea to one that I can speak a lot more about; while it is still just an idea, it is not just an abstract concept now,” Sholes says. “I can see what the main functions of the startup would be, its goals, uses, etc., which I would not have been able to confidently speak about before the program.”

Nate Koidahl, D’22, participated in 3DS to build a pitch deck and refine the vision for his startup, SongChain. The social platform allows artists to access cryptographic assets from their work, making a career in music more financially viable. Getting feedback on the concept and how to market it was instrumental for Koidahl.

“The feedback from Nick Chagin and the other mentors was extremely helpful in figuring out how to explain our concepts and design our business model,” he says. “Although we still have a long way to go, hearing feedback from students and the mentors was incredibly helpful in shaping our ideas.”

Anais Zhang, D’24, didn’t have a specific idea coming into the weekend, but she was excited by the event.

“I was excited at the prospect of creating, inventing, and workshopping an idea that could address a problem while collaborating with my peers and learning from mentors,” Zhang says. “Though I had limited prior exposure to entrepreneurship, I hoped to challenge myself by exploring a new field and immersing myself in an intensive three-day experience.”

Zhang and her team worked on a startup called Mix and Mingle — an app that makes scheduling easy by synching calendars.

Like Zhang, Zhoucai Ni, D’24, was drawn to 3DS because he had an interested in, but not experience with, entrepreneurship.

“I just wanted to learn more about the whole process of creating, pitching, and deploying a startup,” Ni says.

Ni’s team worked on Earth Go, an interactive augmented reality app centered on environmental education. During the weekend, Ni says he realized that his idea — which seemed like a pipe dream initially — could come to fruition.

“I accomplished a lot more than I thought I would in 3DS. Despite the program being hosted remotely, the course was extremely helpful and taught using experience and practice instead of PowerPoint,” he said. “I learned how to do market research, pitching to investors, work in a team environment and how to resolve conflicts between team members.”

Most importantly, the weekend made entrepreneurship feel accessible, and showed Ni that he could be a founder.

“When coming into the problem, I had doubts about myself being a leader and pitching the idea,” he said. “Through practice and supportive friends, I actually enjoyed pitching the idea and working in a team environment.”