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Startups Rise In Popularity And Success

Heights Staff

Published: Monday, February 25, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 01:02

This past Monday, the Boston College Venture Competition (BCVC) hosted their first annual startup fair, an important mark of progress as a school earning a reputation as the up-and-coming hot spot of collegiate entrepreneurship. Numerous startup companies, from Etsy, an online marketplace modeled after open crafts fairs, to Jebbit, a startup by BC students encouraging brand engagement, were present in the Heights Room looking to recruit interested students. In the total, the fair hosted 24 blossoming startups from the Boston area, and students who attended were able to form valuable networks and gain hands-on knowledge.

Startup companies are the new trend, with a self-explanatory name encapsulating its meaning in the two words: "start" and "up". Started by any person or a group with an idea, these companies are built from the bottom up to advance their unique mission. More than ever before, young people can make for themselves the change they want to see in the world by being equipped with the right team of innovative people, technological tools and skills, networks, investors, and ideas.

Though anyone can start a startup company, not everyone can rise up to the top. It is a risky and often fruitless endeavor. Yet, the concept of a startup company has long been on the rise in popularity since Microsoft and Google, and has completely shaken up the culture with the successes of start-ups like Facebook and Twitter. BC takes the startup phenomenon seriously, and students are encouraged to explore their potential and options in the field through the progressive-thinking professors, organizations like the BCVC, and opportunities and classes offered by the Carroll School of Management.

The BCVC is a business plan competition designed to promote and support startup entrepreneurship at the undergraduate level BC. Competitors are paired with experienced alumni who mentor and help them develop skills necessary for starting successful businesses. Professor John Gallaugher, BC ’88, who sponsors the BCVC, said, "I am impressed with how smart students are at BC, but they can be timid because they want to figure out the formula to get A’s which limits creativity. The Competition is a great way for BC students to take crazy risks and have low penalties."

Participation in the Competition would show future employers that the BC student knows how to reach out to consumers, market products, and develop a business model. The BCVC provides an incredible opportunity to try, succeed, or maybe even fail, with the experience being ultimately good in the long run because it helps students learn and mature in a more direct and hands-on manner.

Gallaugher continued on to praise BC’s overall rapid progress as a flourishing environment for entrepreneurship and innovation that has garnered much attention in recent years. One of BC’s unmatched advantages is its geographical location, which CSOM utilizes. Gallaugher stated that one of the many great opportunities students have is the opportunity to engage with and learn from business executives in Boston.

"Even though schools like Notre Dame offer great business programs, students at BC have more realistic opportunities because the location allows for outside-the-classroom learning," he said. For instance, through a CSOM-sponsored program called Tech Trek Boston, interested students can travel into the city of Boston to attend master-class learning sessions held by a different company executive every week. This past Friday, students were able to visit Spark Capital to meet Bijan Sabet, a BC alum who was one of the forefront investors in Twitter and 4Square.

"When you’re interviewing with an employer and you have a story tell—that you visited firms like Google or Spark Capital every weekend as an undergraduate to explore your career interests and options—it clearly shows you have passion and discernment for business and industry", Gallaugher said. There are other programs too, like the award-winning TechTrek West course, a four-credit course that includes 20 master-class sessions with senior executives, entrepreneurs, and venture partners as well as a week-long field study to Silicon Valley. The great part about all these opportunities is that they are not restricted to only students in CSOM—all students have the chance to apply.

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