In September, the Department of Computer Science and Information System’s club, Numbers & Bytes, ventured to Charleston, South Carolina for the amazing opportunity of attending an entrepreneurship conference. “Startup Weekend” is a conference sponsored by Google that focuses on bringing passionate developers and entrepreneurs together to create projects in hopes of launching the next big million dollar idea. Eight lucky Coastal students from the technology focused organization Numbers & Bytes attended, including students from a wide range of majors: from Computer Science and Graphic Design all the way to Marine Science.
“The Charleston Startup Weekend was an educational, inspirational, and overall great experience full of opportunities,” says Mary Best, a Senior Graphic Design major.
At the beginning of the weekend, Developers and Programmers lined up to pitch their ideas for mobile and web-based applications to the crowd, in hopes that other like-minded people would help them in the creation of that idea. Even a few Coastal students took the opportunity to pitch their own ideas. Kyle Anderson, a student majoring in Business, pitched his idea for a mobile app. “Check Please,” says Anderson, “would let a user order food from a restaurant using their phone, then pay from their phone, and be able to have their table and meal ready when they get to the restaurant.”
Another application was pitched by Information Systems major Hali Gallagher. “Even though I only made it through the first round of voting, I am still glad I pitched my idea. I knew it probably wouldn’t make it to the finals since it would require individuals skilled in hardware, but I went up there anyway because I saw it as an opportunity for networking and feedback on my idea,” explains Gallagher. “During voting, a programmer approached me about my idea saying that he liked it and continued telling me about a similar idea that had been done in cities with bike rentals. Slide your debit card and the bike rack would unlock giving you access to the bike, then your card would be charged until the return of the bike. It’s kind of similar to the way Redbox movie rentals work.”
After idea pitching ended, the voting phase began. Each idea pitcher was instructed to write their idea and what they needed to make that idea happen on a giant sheet of paper, and hang it on the wall for others to vote on. Everyone was given three sticky notes and instructed to place them on the idea they believed to be best. Anderson’s app idea of Check Please made it through three rounds of voting.
After voting, teams were formed. Unfortunately, the students found that the ideas that were voted to the finals required skills that they did not yet have. Bille Le, another Computer Science major, noted that, “Maybe after the Software Development course we would be more prepared to attend such an event.” The students still found Startup Weekend to be a useful and educational experience despite this setback. Christopher Williford, a Computer Science major, stated, “Going on this trip, I got to see firsthand how big app development was.”
Startup Weekend helped students see firsthand which skills would be extremely marketable in their future careers. “I always encourage members of Numbers & Bytes to network, as it is a vital skill to have in the real world, says Ebon Moore, a Computer Science Major and Numbers & Bytes club officer. “However, I was surprised when I found club members in deep conversation and networking on their own without any push from me. I’m glad our members were able to network with people within their field of study. It just shows how self-driven and motivated Coastal students are.” The students from Numbers & Bytes are grateful to have had the opportunity to attend Startup Weekend and hope to continue having the support to pursue more such opportunities in the future.
Acknowledgements: The Numbers & Bytes club would like to thank the Dean of the College of Science, Dr. Mike Roberts, as well as the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems for sponsoring this trip.