Saturday, BostInnovation held “ShutUP & Startup,” an opportunity for local college students to pitch their ideas to one another, and to work with startup mentors to flesh-out their business models. I was lucky enough to participate as a startup mentor (and I may have co-learned as much as any of the students!)

The format for the day was straightforward: over breakfast, students were given two minutes to develop an elevator pitch. They were then paired off with mentors to author a poster: company-name, refined elevator pitch, and top-two needs (developer talent, angel funding, etc). After lunch, mentors & students alike were able to quickly identify interesting ideas from the posters, and converge where they would be most useful. During that time, each group fleshed out a business model (using the business model canvas tool).

What impressed me was the range of traction from off-the-cuff ideas to companies with thousands of loyal users, as well as the breadth of ideas: fashion, green, education, volunteerism, high-tech. Hearing that many different mini-pitches was energizing: there’s a lot to change in this world! 

I hope BostonInnovation repeats this event; this is kind of hands-on, heads-down effort makes the community & its activities stronger. Extra thanks to Microsoft & the NERD center for hosting these important events, as always.