On July 9th, the Texas Business Foundations Summer Institute (TBFSI) at the University of Texas at Austin embedded a healthcare-focused 3 Day Startup into the curriculum with over 50 students.  Participants in the TBFSI program are used to intense days, working from nine to five during eight weeks of their summer vacation. Their interests are quite different from the business, design, and computer science students in most 3DS programs.  With backgrounds ranging from pharmacy and biology to psychology and geoscience, each participant is working towards earning a business certificate that they can pair with their specific science-related expertise.

Day 3 Team Exercise: Students attempting to build the tallest marshmallow tower.

(Day 3) Team Exercise: Students attempt to build the tallest marshmallow tower.

The objective was simple: develop a sustainable healthcare company in 3 days.  Teams began each day with exercises like “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to build teamwork skills and a product innovation exercise involving random household objects that students sold as coffee stirrers to practice storytelling.  Afterwards, students quickly dove deep into developing their solutions to society’s biggest health care concerns such as obesity, autoimmune disease, and EMRs (electronic medical records) lack of standardization.



Diversity and Teamwork

With Gallup’s recent release of Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder, progressive entrepreneurial ecosystems across the nation are adding this tool to their arsenal of personality assessments.  These tests provide a valuable framework to explain one’s strengths, weaknesses, and the value one is adding to a team, project, or organization.  For the 3 Day Startup Healthcare Program, participants were broken up into teams based on their Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment results and coached to lead with their strengths.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 6.07.20 PM

Professor Houser (left) and Professor Vindis (right) showing a complete lack of diversity with their matching wardrobe.

Through the (MBTI) method, diversity was evenly spread.  The students could see the value they were adding to their teams.  Joe Gerstandt, a thought leader in diversity and inclusion, says “diversity is a driver of innovation.  When everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking at all.”  Actively creating situations where teams can work in a more diverse environment will increase creativity and yield a space more conducive to high performance.  In higher education, team building through MBTI and other methods should not be a rarity.  Experiments such as these can develop effective tools to increase self-awareness and how to work in a team.

Competitive Intelligence How-To

It is easier to talk about why collecting information on a market is important rather than to how to actually do it.  Thankfully, Laura Young, Co-Founder of Bizologie, was there to give teams a roadmap of how to find the information they were looking for.  Having a background as a Librarian at the University of Texas and a research analyst at Austin Ventures allowed her to develop a process of competitive landscaping to take the guesswork out of the process.  The list of resources she has created is a great tool for entrepreneurs to kickstart their competitive landscaping.  Understanding the competition is just as important as understanding what one’s company brings to the table.

Triumphant smiles at the end of the program.

Triumphant smiles at the end of the program.