Students Building a Business at Speed with 3 Day Startup

By Conor Rushby |

It’s a tall order indeed, building a business in three days, especially with scant experience. But 3 Day Startup, a student-run project to build viable businesses, already has a string of success stories to its name. This weekend RWTH Aachen University is putting on one such event, followed by in February with an event at the WHU, a top German business school and venue .

A format originating in the US, the first German edition was held in 2010, and it’s good news indeed that the concept is going strong. The event provides a vital link between the startup scene and the country’s wealth of student talent.

It works like this: 40 pre-chosen participants are showing up in Aachen on Friday, and will be split into five or six teams which then decide on one idea. This idea is then presented to everybody before the team gets to work building it. There is some flexibility, though, with teams being able to change around members and ideas.

Overseeing things will be experienced founders and VC firms including VentureOne, Project A Ventures and YouIsNow, as well as legal advice from Osborne Clarke. The prototypes will be presented on Sunday evening.

The first event was held in Austin, Texas and has since been followed by 37 more across the globe, giving rise to 28 companies which have received $8 million in funding. Previous German success stories include car rental service tamyca and reputami, an online reputation management system, which secured investment at the event.

A Welcome Bridge

As you would expect, most applications to take part come from students, particularly those in their  in their final year, but 3 Day Startup also attracts ex-consultants and founders. It’s a welcome bridge between the academic and tech worlds, considering startups are not the likeliest destination for a graduate from a prestigious school like WHU.

The first German event took place in 2010 and was organized by students from the RWTH Aachen. Following the success of this event students from WHU met organisers from Aachen and decided to create a mixed team from both universities to put on two events a year, one in Aachen and one at the WHU school in Vallendar.

Sven Lackinger, co-founder of 3 Day Startup in Germany, said: “After organising and attending the events, I was completely stunned by what the teams had achieved in this short time. Previously we have seen apps and websites in beta running on Sunday night, from starting from just an idea on the Friday. Of course, there might be some disadvantages of this and it takes far more to finally launch a company, but 3DS helps with the first steps which are the most important.

The experience gained is one of the key benefits for participants, alongside the contacts forged – the event has an alumni network for participants to keep these ties alive, and hopefully to aid the transition of students into the startup scene.

Free to attend, the WHU event in February is open to applications, with organisers usually conducting a Skype interview with those interested. Key fields that are looked for are design, law, economics, business, computer science, and communications.