• 29 Feb 2016

    UM Students Learn About Entrepreneurship During 54-hour Event


    (OXFORD, Miss.) - For many, participating in their first ever Startup Weekend can be a challenging, yet exciting experience. In only 54 hours, entrepreneurs are charged with pitching an idea, validating a problem, and building the solution. 

    On Feb. 12-14, the third annual Startup Weekend Oxford was held at the University of Mississippi School of Business. Through the sponsoring efforts of UM’s Insight Park, the UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce, and Innovate Mississippi, the event, which kicked off on Friday night, had over 45 participants. Throughout the weekend, aspiring entrepreneurs worked tirelessly to develop their “startup”, a term coined to describe newly established ventures. 

    Olivia Vinzant, a senior at the University of Mississippi and member of the team HBAND, first learned about Startup Weekend Oxford from one of her professors. “This opportunity offered insight into the world of entrepreneurialism, which was pretty unfamiliar to me at the time,” said Vinzant. HBAND’s startup concept, which was developed by team member Jack Barksdale, is a product that heats the hand without the use of gloves. 

    Olivia Vinzant as she answers questions about her team’s idea. 

    Vinzant and other participants started the weekend by listening to business pitches. After project ideas were shared, participants selected the business idea that resonated with them the most and formed 7 cross-functional teams of developers, designers and innovators. On Saturday, teams were paired with coaches and guided through the steps of creating a business from scratch. The coaches, who all possess some background in entrepreneurship, helped participants fine-tune their ideas and team presentations in time for the Sunday night competition, where all 7 teams presented their creative ideas to an esteemed panel of judges. 

    Though difficult, Startup Weekend is a great experiential learning opportunity for young entrepreneurs. For Taylor Brame, a senior at the University and member of the Startup Weekend team Drone Storm, the weekend was full of fun as well as a series of hurdles. Brame’s team spent the weekend working on a startup about creating a mobile application that will provide training and tracking information for aerial drones. When asked what was the most difficult thing his team experienced, Brame answered, “Maintaining our focus.” In such a fast-moving environment, it can be hard for one to not lose focus, but amidst the weekend’s distractions, Brame’s team was able to place in the competition. 

    Taylor Brame (L) and his team, Drone Storm, after being announced as the Crowd Favorite winner. 

    Brame’s team, Drone Storm, won both second place and crowd favorite. Vinzant’s team, HBAND, won first place. Both teams say Startup Weekend was only the beginning for their ideas. They both have submitted their startups into the Gillespie Business Plan Competition, which also will be held at the School of Business this April. 

    “We have entered the Gillespie Business competition and are utilizing the amazing consulting prizes offered by Startup Weekend to make HBAND a reality,” Vinzant said. 

    The winning teams of Startup Weekend Oxford 2016 are listed below: 
    First Place - HBAND 
    Second Place - Drone Storm 
    Third Place - Exscape 
    Honorable Mention - Learn Sync 
    Crowd Favorite - Drone Storm 

    Insight Park is a proud sponsor of both Startup Weekend Oxford and the Gillespie Business Plan Competition. We would like to congratulate all participants and thank the sponsors who make these events possible. To see more photos from the Startup Weekend Oxford, please visit our Facebook page.