News 2023: Three student teams win prizes at Startup Weekend

News 2023: Three student teams win prizes at Startup Weekend
Three student teams win prizes at Startup Weekend

Forty participants competed on eight teams to present the best startup venture idea

Startup Weekend Graphic 2023

Starting Friday, March 17, and concluding Sunday, March 19, 40 participants engaged in Startup Weekend, hosted in the Charlton College of Business. This was the eighth time UMass Dartmouth hosted the event sponsored by Techstars, which was free and open to the public and UMassD students of all majors.

After initial ideas were presented to a panel of judges in 30 seconds or less, the 40 participants joined one of eight groups and divided responsibilities to bring a startup idea to life over the course of 54 hours.

"This experience is so valuable for anybody who’s either interested in starting their own business one day, or just wants to know what it’s like to work for a startup," said Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, Griffin Cottle. "It’s also a great way to learn new skills and add something to your resume that not many others have."

Faculty members in the Charlton College of Business and the College of Engineering worked to bring students from different programs together to complement each other's skills.

"This year, we recruited 10 computer science and data science students to serve as as technical mentors," said Assistant Teaching Professor, Adnan El-Nasan. "These mentors were able to answer the participants’ technical questions and help them build prototypes and mockups for their ideas over the duration of the competition. More computer science and data science students and alums participated in the actual competition, and ended up winning the first and second places."

Winning Ideas

Cupid's Arcade, run by UMassD students Sharan Ani Kumar (MS in computer science), and Mounika Thakkallappaly (MS in data science), Baisakhi Kundu and Dheeraj Reetha Venugopalan (MBA - business analytics), as well as Akshat Garg of Juniata College (PA), took home the first-place prize with an idea for a game-based approach to dating apps that uses recent advances in HR software to match compatible couples.

DIY Garage, an AirBnB-style system that provides car enthusiasts tools and a place to work on their vehicles won second place.

The third-place award went to ScribbleDesk – an educational technology platform for middle school students who struggle with creative writing. 

All three teams received gift cards and a two-month membership to the Co-Creative Center in downtown New Bedford to work on their ideas.

Special Thanks

"We want to give special thanks to Neal Weiss and Fiber Optic Center for sponsoring the event for the third year in a row, and Servedwell Hospitality and the Co-Creative Center for providing prizes to participants," said Cottle. "We also had three great judges, and three great contestants from Durfee High School in Fall River, whose team (Lively Library) received the Faculty Favorite award."

Judges for the contest included Tom O'Donnell, Innovation Initiatives Senior Director at UMass Lowell, Neal Weiss, Founder of Fiber Optic Center, and Rochelle Newrow, Founder and Advisor at FamilyID Inc.

UMass Dartmouth students interested in entrepreneurship and leadership are encouraged to attend a discussion with CCB alum Peter de Silva on April 13, at 2pm. A national financial services executive for over 35 years, de Silva will present leadership principles that contributed to his career success amidst personal challenges. After a brief Q&A, a reception will follow in the CCB lobby with light refreshments and snacks. All attending students will be entered to win a signed copy of de Silva’s book.

Register to attend here.