Initiatives bring ideas to life

Photo Courtesy of Startup Exchange

Tech is home to two new start-up organizations that focus on student and faculty research as well as entrepreneurial opportunities: GT Starter and the Startup Exchange.

Despite their somewhat similar names, the two organizations are independent of each other.

“[Start Up Exchange is] a movement that is trying to push forward the student entrepreneur community at Georgia Tech,” said Chintan Parikh, second-year CS major and Start Up Exchange leader.

“Georgia Tech Starter is the world’s first peer-reviewed, university-based crowdfunding platform for science and engineering projects,” said Allison Jo Mercer, a GTRI research scientist.

Unlike other companies and for-profit organizations, GT Starter incorporates a peer-review system, the first of its kind in the world. This is in an effort to not only circumvent the process of obtaining research grants, but to engage the students and faculty.

“We will launch [the site] Oct. 1. The site is crowdfunding for science and research-based projects; in addition, project creators are trying to engage with people interested in science,” Mercer said.

After the site officially launches, the public will be able to go in and donate money to the projects of their choice.

Those that gain the funding needed will then have the opportunity to develop their projects while outsiders will be able to follow along with the project’s progress.

“Once the project is successfully funded, the project is then turned into a blog and can keep funders updated,” Mercer said.

GT Starter gives students a chance to be a part of the projects and learn first-hand the importance of science.

Currently, GT Starter has seven projects that will begin their pledge for funding early next month, all covering different topics. There are also a number of other projects in the draft stages.

One project is the Urban Honey Bee Project, where four to five students of different majors run experiments studying the effects of living downtown on honeybees.

Another project is the microscopic scale, where undergraduates and researchers working as a part of the iGEM team are looking to create a “BioBot,” capable of being manipulated to perform specified tasks.

Start Up Exchange is also producing new ideas for projects at Tech, but in a more entrepreneurial sense.

“[We want] to have people starting more startups, working at more startups. Really, they should know that startups are an option instead of working at a Fortune 500 company,” Parikh said.

Start Up exchange started in fall 2012 with “StartUp Semester.” From the beginning, they had several successful projects.

“Last year’s startup semester cohort was awesome,” Parikh said. “We had graduating students go on to win the Georgia Tech Inventure Prize, Interview at YCombinator, which is the most prestigious incubator program in the world, present at Startup Riot and move to LA to take part in another incubator run by the founder of Activision.”

“We [also] created a platform for similar student orgs in other colleges to connect and bounce ideas off each other, currently sitting at over 300 members from 30+ schools. It’s called The Hacker League,” Parikh said.

Another Start Up Exchange project was “3 Day Startup” which brought together 50 students from 8 different schools in the Georgia area.

Despite their similarities, the two organizations, GT Starter and Start Up Exchange, have no plans to work together in the future.