Atlanta has grown exponentially in recent years as a hub for startups. With Georgia Tech’s campus in the center of all this activity, it’s no surprise that students have embraced the startup culture.
Some are just interested in learning about startups, while others already have an idea for a new product. Either way, Georgia Tech has the information and resources they need.
Startup Exchange is a Georgia Tech student organization, initiated and run by students. The group has a room on the first floor of the Library that operates 24/7 and serves as a space open to students looking to work on their ideas.
“This community is meant for makers, DIY-ers, free thinkers, and people who think something can be improved,” said Sean Carroll, a fifth-year materials science and engineering student and member of Startup Exchange.
Startup Exchange meets on Fridays at 4 p.m. Currently, about 50 to 60 students attend these meetings. One recent guest speaker was Christopher Klaus, founder of Kaneva and Internet Security Systems and benefactor of the Klaus Advanced Computing Building.
“This is the place to start if you want to find out more about the startup resources on campus,” said Carroll.
Startup Lab is a three-credit course that's part of Tech's CREATE-X initiative and teaches students the Lean Startup methodology. Students learn about customer discovery and product research. Within the first few weeks of class teams are formed and they begin to formulate ideas. Throughout the semester the teams focus on refining those ideas and discovering the market for their product or service. This year, 120 students enrolled in the class — four times as many than last year.
“Startups are an up-and-coming thing,” said John Gattuso, a past teaching assistant for Startup Lab who co-founded FIXD, a device that notifies drivers of car repair needs and has secured more than $37,000 in funding on Kickstarter. “They are now being incorporated into the curriculum through senior design and classes like this.” The class is taught by Raghupathy Sivakumar, Wayne J. Holman Chair Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Upperclassmen in electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, and computing are encouraged to enroll.
VentureLab is an on-campus startup incubator that has helped launch more than 300 companies. VentureLab walks students through the startup process and helps connect them with the resources they need, making it a valuable resource for students in any stage of the startup process.
“Students come in with brilliant mind-boggling ideas and don’t know how to make it happen, but that’s what Venture Lab is here for,” said Nagel. “We don’t take ownership and royalties. Not all colleges can say that about their campus incubators.”
VentureLab is located in Tech Square and open to all Georgia Tech students, faculty, and staff. The incubator hosts events such as workshops in ideation, which help students find a problem from a user’s point of view and come up with all of the possible solutions.
While VentureLab is solely for Tech students, faculty, and staff, ATDC serves the whole state of Georgia. It’s a technology business incubator located conveniently on campus in Tech Square. Given its connection with startups in the Atlanta area, it can serve as a resource for student entrepreneurs seeking jobs or internships with a startup.
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Startup Gauntlet is run by VentureLab and is a workshop focused on teaching students about customer discovery. This program is a three-class seminar where students learn how to express their startup ideas in a way that is easily understood. These workshops help validate the idea and show students how to conduct dozens of interviews with people who would potentially be interested in their idea or service.
For more information about Startup Gauntlet, contact Brandy Nagel.
The Invention Studio is a student-run “maker” space that students use for class, research projects, and personal projects. The Invention Studio has two branches, the MRDC Branch and the Montgomery Knight Branch, with a variety of tools and equipment, and can serve as the testing ground for product prototypes. Workshops are available to students of all skill levels throughout the semester. Tours of the facility are available during its regular open hours. For more information, visit the Studio's website.
Maybe your idea isn’t a physical object, but the next great app. The App Lab gives students the opportunity to borrow all kinds of technology to assist them with developing applications.
“This is one of Tech’s hidden treasures and it’s open to every student, regardless of major,” said Nagel.
The App Lab is in Suite 333 of the Technology Square Research Building and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during fall and spring semesters.
This new addition to Tech’s entrepreneurial resources is focused on building entrepreneurial confidence in students. Create-X consists of three principles: learn, make, and launch. Funded by a gift from entrepreneur and alumnus Chris Klaus, the program will equip students with the tools they need to be confident and knowledgeable when it comes to startups.
This program is open to all majors. For more information, visit www.create-x.gatech.edu or sign up to receive email updates.
What comes next?
If you’re ready to show off your innovation, Georgia Tech offers a number of opportunities to present ideas in front of judges through campus competitions.
The Convergence Innovation Competition (CIC) is open to all Georgia Tech students every fall and spring semester. This competition is all about people, technology, and how they come together, featuring app-based and device-oriented ideas. The Convergence Innovation Competition also hosts events every semester through the App Lab to teach app building.
Even students who aren't interested in building an app are encouraged to participate, to contribute to, and to learn from non-development aspects of projects such as design and user experience.
Every spring, Georgia Tech hosts one of the largest campus-wide competitions of the year, the InVenture Prize.
“Televised by Georgia Public Broadcasting, this competition is the best known on campus and draws world-class judges,” said Nagel. Students present working prototypes of their inventions in front of a panel of three judges, and explain the concepts and business plan behind the invention. First place winners receive $20,000 and a patent filing through Georgia Tech’s Office of Technology Licensing.
Ideas to Serve
In March, the Scheller College of Business hosts its annual Ideas to Serve Competition, where students compete with the early stages of an idea or product that will help make the world a better place. The ideas focus on solving local or global problems of a social or environmental nature. The event itself is a poster showcase session that’s open to the public. Teams can win up to $5,000 through awards and prizes such as best poster, best video, and people’s choice award. This year, the first place team was Smile Bright, which came up with a new concept for a toothbrush to assist people with developmental and intellectual abilities.