Santa Barbara Startup Weekend hosted a 54-hour non-profit event geared toward developing business ideas, creating innovative products and launching new businesses this past Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Santa Barbara.
As a part of the Global Startup Weekend network founded in 2007, the event attracted a total of 125 developers, designers, marketers, product managers, students and startup enthusiasts, many of whom attended or are currently attending UCSB. Friday night — the first night of the weekend-long event — consisted of participants coming together and pitching ideas before splitting into teams, with each team dedicated to bringing their specific start-up idea to fruition for the remainder of the weekend.
UCSB Technology Management Program advisor and lecturer and Santa Barbara Startup Weekend co-organizer Kyle Ashby said the event served as an ideal kick-starter for students interested in creating and developing business ideas.
“The UCSB student presence here is a super vital part of the event,” Ashby said. “Students have the opportunity to meet people and engage with mentors or future employers who are doing amazing, innovative things.”
Fourth-year economics major Mike Holubowski, who is participating in the College of Engineering’s Technology Management Program, said the event is “immensely valuable” for students with an inclination toward technology or business.
“I think more UCSB students need to come to Startup Weekend,” Holubowski said. “You might have a unique life experience that no one else in the room shares, and that could be the starting point for a fantastic idea.”
Santa Barbara Startup Weekend co-organizer Ben Williamson said the event offered an opportunity for members of the Santa Barbara community from many different academic and professional fields to share ideas. According to Williamson, UCSB students hold the potential to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs.
“Until you put yourself out there, you don’t know what you are capable of,” Williamson said. “It’s just a matter of putting yourself in the flow of commerce before those resources really present themselves to you.”
UCSB alum, New York Times-bestselling author and entrepreneur Patrick Vlaskovits said that with the rising cost of education, students should think twice about pursuing a Master of Business Administration and instead maybe consider a launching a startup. Such a career move could potentially offer better experience, better education and be a more financially lucrative endeavor overall. According to Vlaskovits, students no longer have to live by the book as he did in college.
“When I was in college, you wrote a business plan, and your professor would grade it,” Vlaskovits said. “There is a reason why he is a professor and not an entrepreneur himself. What does he know if this business plan is good or bad? These days you don’t have to waste your time writing a business plan. You just go for it.”
Vlaskovits said events like Santa Barbara Startup Weekend present students the opportunity to learn in ways that span beyond conventional education.
“When I did my first startup, there was nothing like this,” Vlaskovits said. “There was no training ground to get together as a team … The future is wide open to those who want it.”
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of November 18, 2013’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.