Jump To: What is it like to participate? What is your rate of success? Can I organize a 3 Day Startup in my city? How can universities get involved? Can we have a 3 Day Startup at my company? Are you looking for investors? I’m looking for employees.  Can I use 3DS to find students to hire?
What is it like to participate? What happens at 3DS? You and 39 other students will start a company over the course of three days. We rent work space for a 3 days, invite 40 students with a wide range of backgrounds, cater food, drinks, snacks, and coffee, pick the best idea for a startup during the Friday brainstorming session, and release a minimal prototype by the end of day 3. The goal is to build enough momentum among a network of motivated people to sustain the company beyond the weekend. If I participate, what do I get out of the weekend? The worst case scenario is that you will work with brilliant people from numerous disciplines toward the common goal of building real companies and products. Great connections happen at 3 Day Startup: cofounders meet, complimentary skill sets collide, and friends are made. The best case scenario is that you will be a cofounder of a wildly successful new tech startup. Will my startup get any cool stuff?
  • Accepted participants can head on over to our Participants page to sign up for the awesome services listed below.
  • Free cloud hosting from Rackspace for six months (up to $500/month of usage).
  • Free access to Microsoft BizSpark.
  • A legal services package from DLA Piper designed for startups incorporated in the United States.  The package will be available at reduced rates, combined with a flat fee or deferred fee arrangement.  3 Day Startup companies will have full access to DLA Piper’s comprehensive benefits and legal services designed to position new companies for future growth and success.  Please contact Justin Bowes to find out more.
How do you get good ideas for startups? We can point you toward a few resources: Any pointers on selecting a startup idea? That’s a tough question with a long answer.  Even some of the best venture capitalists in the business have trouble answering that question.  Just check out BVP’s anti-portfolio.  Probably the best advice we can give you is to check out what some of the smartest people in the business have written.  Two of the first people you might check out are Steve Blank and Ash Maurya.  Both also have books.  One of the biggest takeaways is just to talk to customers.  We can also try to give some very brief pointers on startup ideas: Good ideas do not need to be:
  • Unique
  • Complex
  • Clever
  • First to market
  • High-technology
  • Free of competitors
  • Based on a patent
  • Something you thought of yourself
Good ideas probably should:
  • Address a real, observable market pain
  • Be something that you are knowledgeable about
  • Have a large, potential or existing market
  • Have possible revenue streams
I’m a student majoring in X. Should I even consider applying? The short answer is: yes. Our past participants have spanned everything from a freshman in psychology to a freshly minted PhD in Neuroscience. If you’re at all passionate about startups and technology, it is likely that you will be a valuable participant. Can I apply even though I am not a student? Absolutely. While the majority will be students, we are definitely open to having some (very strong) non student participants. What kind of ideas are allowed? Ideas with scalable business models are strongly preferred.  We also optimize for ideas that will require a strong software base. Our selection criteria for ideas are (1) your amount of passion and (2) the amount of research on your own idea that you perform before your interview. How are ideas picked? Ideas will go though two stages of selection.  The first selection is the interview that all participants go through to get accepted into 3 Day Startup.  During the interview, we are looking for a combination of skills in your area, passion, and a well-researched startup idea. The final idea selection is during Day 1 of the intensive.  It begins with the 40 people forming 8 groups of 5 people each. The small groups brainstorm and pick their favorite ideas. Then each group pitches their top idea to the seven other groups. At the end, all participants vote on the top one, two, or three ideas. How many people from each discipline do you invite? We typically interview around 100 applicants, and then choose the 40 participants from that group.  The participant break down is about 20 from computer science, 7 from business, 3 law students, 3 graphic designers, and 7 wild cards. How much can you really accomplish in 3 days? A whole lot.  The finished product of the intensive isn’t a full-fledged revenue-generating company–it’s a team with an idea that has enough momentum to become a real company. What about food? Sleep? 3DS caters all meals, drinks, and in-between snacks. Sleep is optional. Participants can bring a sleeping bag, or they can go home to rest. What happens at the end of the 3 days? At 7 p.m. on Day 3, the participants pitch their startups to a panel of local venture capitalists, angel investors, tech entrepreneurs, professors, and the press. After that, they start making plans about how to take their companies forward. What does the 3 day schedule look like? A typical 3 Day Startup might look like this: Day 1
  • 2pm: meet & greet, split up into brainstorming groups
  • 7pm: dinner & pitch ideas
  • Decide on best idea(s), start work!
Day 2
  • Customer interaction, coding, market validation, business plans, logos, etc.
Day 3
  • 6pm: dinner & meet panelists
  •  7pm: pitch startup(s) to panel
  •  Launch prototype, elect board

What is your rate of success? First of all, check out some of the companies that have been started by graduates of 3 Day Startup here. Our main metric for success is how many of our alumni found companies that take investment, generate revenue or enter incubators.  It is common to hear the word “startup” get thrown around.   When we say startup, we mean the real thing: companies that are making money or taking investment. Per program, 3 Day Startup result in more successful startups than any other weekend entrepreneurship event. We have run 130+ programs in the US and internationally, and those have given rise to 79 companies that have cumulatively received over $49 million in funding. 29 companies from 3DS have been accepted to accelerators such as Y Combinator, Tech Stars, 500 Startups, Capital Factory, Austin Technology Incubator and Dreamit Ventures. On average, each 3 Day Startup program has generated more than one successful startup.  This includes programs in mature and nascent university entrepreneurship ecosystems.
Can I host a 3 Day Startup in my city? Yes. Contact us at founders@3daystartup.org for more details.
How can universities get involved? Universities can hold 3 Day Startups at their campuses.  When we engage with a university, we do not do it with the intention of holding a single program on their campus.  We aim to establish a continuing program that expands the entrepreneurial capability and culture of the university. Contact us at founders@3daystartup.org for more details.
Can we have a 3 Day Startup at my company? We do conduct a limited number of corporate programs per year.  The main focus of these enterprise innovation programs is developing an entrepreneurial mindset in executives. Contact us at founders@3daystartup.org for more details.
Are you looking for investors? Yes, we are looking for people to invest in the companies we help to start.  The best way for an investor to do that is to attend or sponsor a 3 Day Startup. We are also interested in forming relationships with investors aligned with the social innovation goals of the 3 Day Startup non-profit. Contact us at founders@3daystartup.org for more details.
My company is seeking talented employees. Can I use 3DS to find students to hire? Absolutely. One of the most useful things that we do for participants and companies is to help to scout for talent and to facilitate job placements.  The best way for a company to meet our talented students is to attend or sponsor a 3 Day Startup. Contact us at founders@3daystartup.org for more details.
I have a great idea or invention. I’m worried about it being stolen. This is probably the most common concern for 3DS participants. Our legal structure is designed so that invited participants can freely share their ideas amongst each other in a protected environment without having to worry about things being stolen. We believe firmly that ideas are cheap and execution is everything, which is why we focus most of our attention on action. But don’t just take it from us: there is broad consensus on that topic in the startup community. See hereherehere, and here for just a few examples. In short, we are in the business of making ideas happen, not stealing them. Who is this non profit, anyway? 3 Day Startup, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

It has no shareholders, only a board of directors composed of successful entrepreneurs and  cofounders.  3 Day Startup, Inc., is organized for the express purpose of promoting entrepreneurship on college campuses.

How does 3DS make money? We are a not for profit entity, primarily funded through universities and sponsorships.