The fifth floor of Crecine apartments on West Campus is brimming with makers and hackers participating in the 2014-15 Startup House. Startup House is a ThinkBig project, where sophomores and upperclassmen occupy a floor of an on-campus apartment to explore a topic of interest.
The focus of Crecine’s fifth floor is entrepreneurship and the lean startup methodology, a philosophy describing how to get a product to customers faster.
The 40-odd students are required to take part in both fall and spring semesters, so the current students and faculty have a semester of experience with the program that began its first year in August.
“All of these students are smart and hard-working, and in the rest of the world, they would be successful,” says Brandy Stanfield-Nagel, Marketing and Program Manager of VentureLab. “But here, they have to learn to deal with failure quickly and be successful next time.”
The program is an offshoot of VentureLab, the No. 2 business incubator in the country which has launched 303 startups to date. To aid the students’ startups, several guest speakers give talks titled “How I F***** Up My Startup.” These talks provide insight from the startup community of Atlanta including starting an idea, market research, and investments
Additionally, the faculty advisors meet regularly with the students to discuss different aspects of starting a company or bringing an idea to life.
“I meet with the students every week … talking to them one-on-one,” Stanfield-Nagel says. “We talk about technical risks, forming a team, and recruiting. We talk money a lot, and, more importantly, the risk of taking a product to market.”
At the moment, two of the groups are revenue-positive in their startups, although these groups existed and had developed ideas before the Startup
One such project is FIXD, a diagnostic tool for cars that sends detailed information to a phone app to be displayed. This project was successfully Kickstarted in September after receiving over $30,000. The newer groups are in their ideation and market
“We got pretty lucky that we caught traction when we did,” says John Gattuso, Founder of FIXD. “I can only imagine how big it could have been if we had prepared more before launching; there are things I would have done differently for the Kickstarter [after Startup House].”
To further aid in more specific topics, events and workshops, usually hosted by the Invention Studio, are highlighted for the students to attend such as a vacuum forming workshop and a tutorial on making apps for Google Glass. Tours of the Invention Studio as a whole are also on the calendar.
The program has been so popular among students that in Fall 2015, the Startup House will move to Center Street apartments, which have bigger common areas to accommodate the increased number of interested students.