Skip to: Main Content Search Navigation Secondary Navigation

Russ College students take first place at Startup Weekend

Elisabeth Weems and Colleen Carow | Oct 30, 2017
Start Up Weekend
The Bounty Board Services team (L to R): Community member Ben Stanley, HTC political science major Zakary Frank, mechanical engineering major Moeto Sasaki, and engineering and technology management major Alex Nay. Not pictured: business major Riley Dwyer.Photo by Patrick Connolly

Russ College students take first place at Startup Weekend

Elisabeth Weems and Colleen Carow | Oct 30, 2017
The Bounty Board Services team (L to R): Community member Ben Stanley, HTC political science major Zakary Frank, mechanical engineering major Moeto Sasaki, and engineering and technology management major Alex Nay. Not pictured: business major Riley Dwyer.
The Bounty Board Services team (L to R): Community member Ben Stanley, HTC political science major Zakary Frank, mechanical engineering major Moeto Sasaki, and engineering and technology management major Alex Nay. Not pictured: business major Riley Dwyer. Photo by Patrick Connolly

A pair of Russ College students found themselves at the intersection of creation, innovation and ideation at the annual Techstars Startup Weekend Oct. 13-15, landing on the first-place team and winning $1,000.

Held at OHIO’s Innovation Center, the annual event tasks students to work in teams and interact with designers, developers and entrepreneurs to evolve their own business concept into a foundation for future ventures.

Senior engineering and technology management student Alex Nay and sophomore mechanical engineering student Moeto Sasaki collaborated with Riley Dwyer, a sophomore business analytics major; Zakary Frank, a senior political science major; and community member Ben Stanley on the team they called Bounty Board Services to develop a matchmaking server for tabletop game players, similar to how Xbox Live virtually connects online players.

The 54-hour ideation process began Friday night, when students pitched their ideas to one another before attendees voted for viability. Then, teams formed, based on similar interests in preparation to collaborate and brainstorm before starting the development process bright and early on Saturday. Startup Weekend ended Sunday, when teams presented their ideas in early development before celebrating at an awards ceremony.

Nay explained that creating a new idea in just 48 hours involves balancing efficiency, flexibility and creativity – and that other Russ College students should participate to gain exposure to the ideation process.

“Even if you don’t think you want to start a business,” Nay said. “The things you learn, the people you meet, and the experience you have is worth it.”

He added that the brainstorming process involved aligning the visions of all team members, which taught him a valuable lesson about group compromise. His advice to other students about teamwork: be open and flexible to original ideas changing as the process continues.

Originally, the group planned to create a video game based on the popular fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, in which players choose their own storylines. However, after administering a consumer survey through a Google forum to more than 800 people, they decided to refine their original concept.

Throughout the weekend, students attended workshops and interact with coaches and judges -- including Art Oestrike, founder and owner of Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery; Dan Rockwell, CEO of Big Kitty Labs; and Leslie Schaller, director of programs at ACEnet -- who provided feedback and guidance.

By combining and applying knowledge from Startup Weekend and their courses, the team members will continue to collaborate to develop their venture idea. First up: an informational website.

Find more information about Startup Weekend online.