Students attending Griffith University are jumping at the chance to be part of the University’s increasing focus on Entrepreneurial education. A recent event at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus, featuring startup educators from Austin, Texas attracted student’s from all five of the University’s campuses gleefully putting in 14 hour days over their weekend.
Austin has become one of centres of America’s Startup culture, attracting people with skills, ideas and business acumen, as well as people with money to invest. The Thee Day Startup group (3DS) were brought to Queensland as part of the state government’s desire to foster a similar culture in SE Queensland through its Advance Queensland initiative.
Universities are finding that the economy their students are graduating into won’t be the same as previous generations. Careers are becoming less prevalent, or even sought after, and the digital economy is opening the possibility of business for a broader set of skills and finance levels.
3DS describe their mission as kickstarting new student-run companies and building entrepreneurial capabilities in students and their university communities. It aims to provide three months of business skills in three days through a program of intense and active learning.
The 40 students who attended were broken up into six teams, to come up with a business idea, refine it, structure it and even find potential customers by hitting the street and interviewing as many local Gold Coast customers as possible.
“I learned so much from that experience, it should be compulsory for all students, even if you don’t want to start up a business,” said 2nd year business student, Emily Harper.
“We had to walk all over the Gold Coast on a Saturday morning, fronting people on the street and asking them if they’d subscribe to an online health food delivery service, which is actually a business I want to start. So it wasn’t just an exercise.
“I was amazed with how enthusiastic people were.”
“I loved that weekend so much. It was basically three 14-hour days and I didn’t even notice the time or effort. To be honest I didn’t notice anyone talking about it. When you’re really passionate, the hard work doesn’t really matter,” she said.
3DS teamed up with the University’s commercialisation office, Griffith Enterprise to present the first of four courses in Australia attracting students from the Arts, Business, IT, Engineering, Social Work, Health and Science degrees. Hunter Walkenhorst from Griffith Enterprise managed the course.
“Students are increasingly seeing their futures in a different light. They’re approaching business and entrepreneurialism as a preference to a career and as a University we need to be not only be responsive to this, but out in front,” he said.
“Griffith has five campuses between the Brisbane and Nerang rivers and we got students from all five, representing 15 nationalities, with more than double the number of applicants to places.”
Cam Houser, CEO of 3DS found the talent and enthusiasm of Griffith students for the startup adventure to stand up to any he had taught previously.
“They completely bought into the vision of what 3 Day Startup does: growing their entrepreneurial capabilities and building momentum in the entrepreneurial culture within the school,” he said.
“We always draw students from a multitude of disciplines. We know that there is entrepreneurial potential in all corners of a campus and we want to expose those students to opportunities… we’ve seen how different perspectives lead to stronger innovations and companies.
We recommend that they start something, anything, sooner rather than later. The pursuit of a new venture is where all the learning comes, and the learning is what will eventually generate the success…Entrepreneurship is shorthand for efficacy: if you use entrepreneurial approaches, you will be more effective,” he said.
After more than 35 hours of learning was crammed into three days students felt their ambitions had been given some serious direction.