One of the early lessons of the new Netflix documentary “Inside Bill’s Brain” is the power of positivity. Bill Gates’ mother says he was nicknamed “Happy Boy” as a child. Gates reportedly carried that positive attitude with him in his early 20s as co-founder of Microsoft, even during stressful times. The Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship believes that approach can work not just for all new and returning students at the University of Washington, but also in terms of some exciting events we are offering this fall.
We call it “Entrepreneurship Fest” or EntreFest for short. It is a series of empowering events worth highlighting that are both low-pressure and high opportunity for students with full plates to start the quarter. After all, we want students to channel their ideas and turn them into innovations and startups, no matter their background or discipline. But we also know that journey doesn’t start at the same place for everyone. So, if Gates can launch a new startup at the age of 62 (as he did last year), why can’t you also defy other people’s expectations as a freshman or senior, a graduate student or transfer, and start something as well?
Undergraduates can start off strong by joining us Thursday, October 3 (and every other Thursday after that all quarter long) for Build Your Own Business. These evening workshops (we like to call BYOB) are an exclusive place for undergraduates-only to bounce ideas off each other and hear direct feedback from entrepreneur Jana Kleitsch. The first one begins at 6 p.m. in Dempsey Hall 211.
What if you’re a little further along? Swing by an information session about the I-Corps Funding Grant program offered by UW CoMotion on Wednesday, October 2. You’ll learn how to grow the commercial potential of your idea by receiving first-hand feedback from potential customers. And, if your application for the grant is accepted, you’ll receive $2,500 to make it happen! The session begins at 2 p.m. in Dempsey Hall 211.
The intersection of science and business comes together that same night at the annual kickoff BBQ from our friends at the Science and Engineering Business Association (SEBA). Starting at 4:30 p.m. at Sylvan Grove, students from all over campus are invited to learn about this premiere student organization that, among many other things, co-hosts the Science and Technology Showcase in early January.
Still not sure? Check out the Student Startups Showcase at the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House starting at 9:30 the morning of Tuesday, October 8. We’ll have a dozen or so startups in attendance that were able to develop their ideas at, or with help from, the University. Each were founded by current students or recent alumni and represent innovations in tech, retail, and more. All students, staff, and faculty are invited as well as the public. For more information, check out the recap of last year’s event.
The early part of the month also features the opportunity for 1-on-1 sessions with Buerk Center staff. Each Wednesday starting at noon, absolutely any student, undergrad or grad from any program, can swing by Dempsey Hall 211 without an appointment, and speak directly with our staff about anything related to getting involved with entrepreneurship.
“These events introduce you to resources on campus you may not have realized are there, opportunities to network with CEOs, and students you would not have met,” said Amy Sallin, director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. “It is a fantastic opportunity to expand your UW experience in a way that will benefit you for a lifetime.”
The second half of EntreFest kicks off with our first Team Formation event of the year. This “Maker Mixer” is all about the value of creating or refining a prototype product or service, including how to take advantage of the Fluke Hall makerspace (and others) in ways you may not have realized. On top of that, it’s an in-person opportunity for students to start thinking about forming teams and connections heading into competition season later this year. Students can RSVP right now for the event on Wednesday, October 16 that starts at 5:30 p.m. in Fluke Hall 215. Future Team Formation events will be announced soon.
The following day is the UW Startup Career Fair at the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House from 3 to 5 p.m. in the afternoon. Dozens of vetted startups will be on-hand looking to hire students ready to show off their specific skills or build their networks.
On Thursday, October 24, students interested in learning about the booming sector of environmental innovation can stop by an event at the Ethnic Cultural Center starting at 4. This “studio event” features a group of guest speakers ready to present unique challenges facing the local environment. Each require innovative solutions to complex problems.
“This is the kind of interactive event for students that will really get their minds moving,” said Lauren Brohawn, program manager for the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC). “No matter what you’re studying—now is the time to recognize the potential that environmental innovations have to impact the world around us.”
All of these events (and more) can be found in the UW Startup Tree community at washington.startuptree.co. The online platform is also a great place for students to find and connect with each other. Signing up and creating a profile is easy and secure.
The Buerk Center also highlights these events each Monday in our weekly newsletter, as well as events from our friends at CoMotion (like the Fundamentals for Startups Fridays series) and the community. You can sign up to receive that e-mail newsletter at startup.uw.edu or by stopping by our office at Dempsey Hall 227.