The Future of Innovation
On Tuesday, April 23, 2019, George Mason University hosted a spirited and inspiring “fireside chat” about the future of innovation with Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), and George Mason President Ángel Cabrera.
Our co-hosts included the Greater Washington Partnership and Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Small Business and Entrepreneur Committee.
Attendees spanned the George Mason community, from students to faculty and staff, as well as local community business leaders. In addition to listening to the two auspicious speakers, guests enjoyed a networking reception and received a signed copy of Gary Shapiro’s Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation.
Startup MIXer at the MIX/OEI
Fifteen plus NOVA/DC area founders from a wide range of business ventures came together with a room full of Mason students at the 2019 Startup MIXer. Put on by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in partnership with Career Services, this networking event allowed exceptional entrepreneurs to share their personal stories, including the highs and the lows of imagining, starting, and growing their businesses. Mason students from across the university networked with startup founders engaging in personal conversations ranging in topics from feedback on business ideas to tips and tricks on creating a startup, to internship opportunities and understanding the startup culture.
Gathering in the MIX@Fenwick, the impressive group of founders represented a broad range of industries, company sizes, and company maturities. Among others, ventures represented included cosmetics, tech, fashion, and consulting. Several founders had direct ties to Mason as a student, faculty or alumni. This networking event was made possible with generous financial support from Premier Sponsor Metrostar Systems along with sponsorship from Kryptowire and Hungry.
One of the event attendees, Calvin Sze, a senior studying Philosophy, thought that "there is a great need for an entrepreneurial focus in higher education to offer opportunities for the student community." He also shared that "the Startup MIXer was a great way to make rare connections with entrepreneurial alumni with successful businesses" and is looking forward to future events similar to the MIXer. Dolica Gopisetty, a GMU senior focusing on Information Technology, shared that the Startup MIXer gave her a great amount of insight and inspiration from successful entrepreneurs. The event enabled her to create connections to business experts who were willing to become her mentors as she learns her way to become an entrepreneur herself.
Techstars Startup Weekend GMU
Nearly 70 university students spent the November 9th weekend learning to take an idea from concept to creation and experiencing the highs and lows of participating in a startup. On Friday, attendees pitched over 25 business and product ideas before voting for their favorites. Out of this, 11 multidisciplinary teams formed around the top ideas. Teams spent the remainder of the weekend in a sprint to refine their idea, obtain customer feedback, and prepare for a pitch in front of a panel of judges on late Sunday afternoon.
Mentors, experienced entrepreneurs and startup venture team members who understand how to make ideas viable, were on hand throughout the weekend. Sponsors MetroStar and REAN Cloud helped the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI) make the event possible. “We were fortunate to have the support of our sponsors. Their financial support allowed us to reduce the barrier to entry by lowering ticket prices for those who would not normally have the discretionary funds to participate in a three-day event. Their participation in mentoring teams provided students with an unparalleled learning experience,” said Karen Livingston, Associate Director for Entrepreneurship Programs at George Mason University.
After the impressive final presentations, the judges chose their top three concepts for awards and prizes with the crowd voting for its favorite. The winners were…
1st place: Subscript – Manage recurring subscriptions in one place
2nd place: MXXR – YouTube for small social events
3rd place: Patch Pro – Platform that provides specific visual instructions on how to fix products
Crowd favorite: e-style – AI and cloud based fashion recommendation platform
Students represented multiple programs, all of them coming together with the common bond of learning how to build a startup. “While we worked to provide an ideal environment for startup magic to happen, it only came to full realization because of the positive attitudes, enthusiasm, and collaborative nature of the driven and talented students who participated. I am grateful and heartened by the positive energy of the students we had participate and impressed by the outcomes of their efforts,” said Livingston.
During the weekend, networking abounded alongside friendships formed and lessons learned. One student stated “It was such a meaningful experience that I'll remember forever. My team and I had such great chemistry and shared many great ideas that we are going to continue our project outside of Startup Weekend, and I’m definitely coming back (to the MIX).” The campus community is encouraged to join other collaborative and entrepreneurially-minded students and faculty at the MIX facilities throughout the year.
1st Ever MLH/GMU Hackathon at the MIX! - PatriotHacks 2018
1st Ever MLH/GMU Hackathon at the MIX!
Over the weekend on October 12-14, 2018, the MIX was home to over 200 students from GMU and beyond, encompassing our next generation technology leaders and entrepreneurs. The final day resulted in an impressive 33 projects entered for judging. A couple of the standout winners included:
- IOT Smart Trash Can – Best Sustainability Hack
- Immersive Lecture - Best Hardware and Best VR
- Additional Winners and Entries: https://patriothacks.devpost.com/submissions
Sponsors included Accenture, CACI, Verizon, Balsamiq, GitHub, Nova|Systemic, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The 36-hour event was supported by MLH (Major League Hacking), the GMU Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, The Volgenau School of Engineering, College of Science, and MGTA.
In addition to hacking, the students enjoyed delicious cuisine from Teriyaki Madness, Cafe Río, McAlister’s, and Halal Guys. When not signed up for one of many workshops offered throughout the weekend, participants were able to take advantage of numerous activities, including a cup-stacking contest, salsa dancing, video games, and even Mason’s own Confucius Institute leading Tai Chi.
For more information about PatriotHacks, go to: http://patriothacks.org/
MSEA 2018 - Getting Out of the Building to Get into Business
Getting Out of the Building to Get into Business
This summer, 30 GMU students organized into 13 teams participated in an eight-week, intensive entrepreneurship program offered by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The Mason Summer Entrepreneurship Accelerator (MSEA) challenges student teams to test the viability of their ideas with the harshest environment possible: real customers in the real world. During this hands-on learning experience, student entrepreneurs learned the Lean Startup methodology of customer discovery, and conducted, on average, 100 customer interviews, which they used to shape their initial ideas into potentially viable products with sustainable business models that benefit real people.
Participating students came from all areas of the school: engineering to business to public policy to art, and from all walks of life and all corners of the world. One idea looked to improve blood bank efficiency and security in Saudi Arabia, another looked to improve reading programs in Ghana. A team that paired a GMU student with his friend from UC Berkeley worked on developing Augmented Reality games for fun and fitness, while another team developed beauty products for women of color. Regardless of the ideas, all the teams used the same process to learn about their prospective customers or stakeholders, including current products and services used now and how those might be improved. Insights gained from customer input helped each team to craft features that would make up their initial products as well as gaining an understanding about each element of business model development—price, cost structure, customer relationships, and potential partnerships. But the teams weren’t alone. Each team was assigned their own experienced entrepreneur as a counselor and aid, so there was always a voice of experience to lean on for help.
MSEA is held each summer, starting in early June and running through early August. You can learn more about the program by contacting Karen Livingston.