I know you must be getting excited about Thanksgiving! Here at Booth we have been busy as ever on campus before everyone heads out for the holiday. This week, we check in with our Entrepreneurship Correspondent, Dana, on Seedcon 2011.
Seedcon 2011: It was the perfect close to what was a very exciting Booth Entrepreneurship Week (BEW), which was brimming with events targeted towards students interested in VC and entrepreneurship.
Seedcon is the annual entrepreneurship and venture capital conference at Booth. This year, the conference spanned two days and included a fast-pitch competition, panels, and a fireside chat with 37signals co-founder Jason Fried.
Panel discussion topics included “What’s in the Future for Non-Technical Entrepreneurs?”, “VCs, Angels, and Accelerators,” and “Big Data, the Next Big Thing.” For me, the data panel was especially interesting. As an undergraduate, I interned in the marketing research department of a firm that had a wealth of subscriber data. At that time, marketers were just beginning to realize the importance of this data and the potential to create more targeted, relevant advertising. Based on the advances in data analytics discussed in this panel, the old pop-up/ banner advertisement model is a notion of the past and marketers should come to rely on real-time information much more heavily. As I create my team for the New Venture Challenge, I now understand the role that my data analytics/ research team member will have to fulfill.
It was also very motivating to see that the Chicago entrepreneurship scene is alive and well. Throughout the three panels, there was no shortage of excitement for the startups that are emerging from Chicago. Chicago has quickly become an entrepreneurial hot-spot; panelists believed that unlike other entrepreneurial cities in the US, Chicago has a much “flatter” network with fewer gatekeepers. This collaborative environment, with members of the community willing to connect with one another, makes Chicago the ideal city for those looking to start a business.
I’ve been a fan of Signals vs. Noise, 37signals’ blog, for quite some time now and rushed out to purchase the blog-inspired book, “Rework,” as soon as it was released last year. It was a real treat to have Jason Fried speak to us candidly on topics related to startups. Jason was quick to point out that data is not the end-all, be-all (ironically, this came after the data panel) and that it is important for entrepreneurs to trust their intuition. Jason also had a great point that truly resonated with me: “focus on doing one thing and do it really well first.” Sometimes, as I synthesize ideas for my business or reflect on the multitude of directions that certain ideas can take me, I have the tendency to get very distracted or overwhelmed. Jason’s advice reminded me that I should focus on the core of my business plan, before expanding into various directions.
Seedcon was a fantastic learning experience and I am proud to be amongst the company of so many innovative minds at Booth. Many thanks to the Polsky Center and EVC for coordinating Seedcon and for providing countless outlets to foster the collaborative spirit of entrepreneurship.