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Scramble Educates Entrepreneurs

Heights Staff

Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

For the entire weekend, over 60 Boston College students gathered to embark on BC’s first ever StartUp Scramble. Sponsored by the BC Entrepreneurial Society (BCES), the event served as a crash course in everything students needed to know to begin their own companies. Over the course of the weekend, participants were given guidance and coaching and had to come up with a final pitch to give for their startup by the event’s end on Sunday afternoon.

Run by Stephen Douglass, chief impact officer and founder of Young Impact, the StartUp Scramble has been hosted at universities across the country such as Harvard, Babson, and Georgetown. In addition to running these events for colleges, Douglass also leads them at corporations and non-profits.

On Friday evening, the event began with a keynote presentation by John Gallaugher, associate professor of information systems, which was followed by dinner and mingling for the participants to get to know one another. After Douglass gave an overview of the weekend and the procedures for the Scramble, the participants all gave pitches, which were voted on and used to divide them up into 15 groups for the remainder of the weekend.

After beginning to work with their newly founded teams Friday night, the participants reassembled Saturday morning for skill-building workshops that brought in professionals from all different fields.

Douglass led a financial workshop on general bookkeeping and financial projections. There was a workshop on website building, as well as one on sales and marketing. The final workshop was led by Ginggi Storer, William Collins, and Achal Oza, lawyers from Goodwin Procter who stressed the importance of patent protection and discussed the legal benefits of forming a corporation.

“There are people here who don’t know all the business stuff, but have a general idea of what they want to do,” said Troy Johnson, treasurer of the BCES and A&S ’14. “There are people who are more marketing based and people who want to do sales. There are people who want to do finance and accounting, and then there are people who want to do the tech. There are artists and graphics designers. All the skill workshops hit a little bit of each of these things, every single aspect that you need [for a startup].”

After a day of skill-building workshops, presentations, and working with coaches, the groups were required to give a “dirty pitch” on Saturday evening. Meant to put the groups on the spot, they had to stop whatever they were doing and pitch their idea as it was at the time.

After the groups gave their “dirty pitch” and received critiques on them, they went back to work for the remainder of Saturday night to refine their pitch for the final presentation on Sunday morning. After brunch on Sunday, the groups were given a last hour to finish up their presentation before they delivered it.

“It’s not a competition,” Johnson said. “There are no prizes or anything like that. What people take out of this is everything they need to know to start a business. Three months out, 30 percent of people who start their own projects are still working on them. For other people, it is just for the experience.”
Co-sponsored by the AHANA Management Academy, the Information Systems Academy, and the Computer Science Society, the Scramble served as the flagship event for the BCES this semester and attracted a lot of interest in the club.

“Two or three years ago, BCES did not have a strong presence on campus, and this is the first major event to change that,” said Roger Larach, president of the BCES and CSOM ’13. “We have been planning this for four months, and the turnout and interest is far greater than we thought. People have committed to an entire weekend of entrepreneurship.”
After attending a Scramble last year, Derek Switaj, event coordinator for the BCES and CSOM ’15, had the idea to bring it to BC for this academic year.

“I was in a Scramble last year, and I would say that is the most stressful and fun weekend you can have,” Switaj said. “At times, you are fighting with people that you just met and you don’t know. You are trying to come up with an idea and formulate a business with people you just met. There’s tension, but there’s a lot of fun that comes out of it and you learn a lot. It’s an amazing event to be a part of.”

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