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3 Day Startup is an entrepreneurship education program for university students with an emphasis on learning by doing. 3 Day Startup’s mission is to kick-start new student-run companies and build entrepreneurial capabilities in students and their university communities.

3 Day Startup was founded in 2008 at The University of Texas at Austin. The program has spread to schools such as Harvard, MIT, WHU, Peking University, and other top tier schools in North America, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Program Details

Before the weekend begins, the organizers of 3DS solicit applications from across the university, typically receiving 200 applications from 25+ different majors. After reviewing applications and conducting interviews, the top 45 students are invited to participate in the program. Two weeks before the program takes place, 3DS organizers host workshops on how to recognize opportunities in the marketplace, how opportunities differ from solutions, and how to execute on the customer-focused 3DS model. 3 Day Startup alumni have succeeded precisely because they have applied a relentless focus on making products and services based on actual customer needs.

On day one, the participants arrive at the 3DS program site motivated to start new technology companies: students bring pre-built technology or simply an idea for a startup. These technologies and startups are usually at early stages; technical feasibility and business models are unproven. In the first few hours, participants discuss and evaluate their business ideas in smaller groups. During this analysis phase, mentors from around the community are brought in to provide their insights. Later that evening, participants vote on the ideas (usually 5-7) that will become the focus of the weekend and decide which projects they want to work on.

Fueled by free food and caffeine, participants convert their abstract notions of entrepreneurship into the actual practice of innovation. With help from mentors, business students model revenue sources and test marketing strategies, computer science students code prototypes, and designers create branding and user interfaces. On day two, everyone engages potential customers on the streets and over the phones to better understand the problem their venture addresses. Day one and day two are packed with action–these days are a microcosm of startup life, with the highs of completing prototypes and the lows of discovering better-positioned competitors.

The ideas that have survived thus far are revealed at the pitches and prototype demos on day three. A panel of venture capitalists, angel investors, and accomplished entrepreneurs offers feedback. The presentations include functioning prototypes, beta customer responses, and teams comprised of with highly skilled and motivated people. The feedback is constructive and extensive: panelists ask tough questions, identify strengths and weaknesses, and give candid advice for the road ahead.


The 3DS program creates a living entrepreneurship laboratory on university campuses by bringing together students ranging from freshmen to freshly-minted PhDs, with diverse backgrounds, including computer science, business, engineering, law, design, communications and others. The 3DS program supplements the traditional classroom experience, by giving participants a hands-on opportunity to experience entrepreneurship through a learning by doing model.

In addition, participants get one-on-one time with seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors, the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals, meet future cofounders, and most importantly start viable companies. Not only do students connect with those in their local community but they also join our global tribe of 3DS alumni from all over the world.

Boiler Statement

About 3 Day Startup

3 Day Startup (3DS) teaches entrepreneurial skills to university students in an extreme hands-on environment. In addition to supporting budding entrepreneurs, 3DS programs cultivate entrepreneurial communities that contribute to the growth of entrepreneurship ecosystems in the regions surrounding these university programs. This proven program provides students the tools they need to start successful companies. To date, more than 54 companies have come out of 3DS to collectively raise $15 million in investor capital. More than a dozen have been accepted to prestigious incubators and accelerators such as Y Combinator and TechStars. For more information, please visit us at, follow us on Twitter at and like us on Facebook at

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