New Computer Science Workshop Aims to Give Students Entrepreneurial Spirit
Gathered around their laptops and tablets, a team of students prepare for their final pitch to showcase their very own startup and how their technical skills can evolve into what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
The Computer Science Entrepreneurship Workshop+Startup Lab held in early October, exclusive to computer science students, is the latest addition to the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston’s entrepreneurship programs that aims to teach students with technical skills how to turn their business idea into a reality.
Bauer Clinical Assistant Professor Hesam Panahi is organizing the workshop, as well as the year-round RED Labs startup program. The workshop is part of this semester’s focus on outreach to the technical disciplines at the University, such as computer science and engineering, Panahi said.
“We’ve been working closely with the Department of Computer Science for some time now and the workshop was a first step in developing entrepreneurship opportunities at Bauer specifically for computer science students,” Panahi added.
The two-weekend workshop offered a series of lectures about startup resources, fundamental principles in developing a business model and the importance of customer validation. The workshop also included guest speakers, most of whom are entrepreneurs with a computer science background during the first weekend.
“We expose students to the first steps of executing an idea, common mistakes and misconceptions on how to get started, and initial questions that every startup needs to ask to validate their existence,” Panahi said.
The second weekend offered students the opportunity to gather in teams and form ideas to draft a business model and work with mentors from the startup community to develop an initial pitch. The weekend ended with pitches to the workshop’s group of mentors, who provided constructive feedback.
“Students that have considered starting their own company or working as an early employee for a startup can really benefit from opportunities like the workshop,” Panahi said. “Many of these students have the technical knowledge to get started working on a product, and by learning more about the business perspective, can be better prepared for a startup environment.”
The workshop was a success, bringing in 20 students to form the four teams that presented to their mentors on the final day.
“This is just one of many efforts aimed at encouraging students from outside of Bauer to engage in entrepreneurship,” Panahi said. “We want to invite technically talented students to RED Labs, connect them to the resources they need to get started, and help them launch startups.”
By Ann Lynd