Bailey Batcheller is a KU business student who was sponsored by Business Career Services to attend this year’s Techstars Startup Weekend in Kansas City on Sept. 20–22. She came into the competition with nothing except a few business ideas in her back pocket and ended up leaving a winner.
The Techstars Startup Weekend is an immersive startup experience focused on hardware and product design that challenges teams to get feedback, make changes and stay open to the idea of pivoting if a plan fails.
Many students, including Batcheller, go into the competition knowing no one. All of the participants make pitches and form groups based on the ideas with the most potential. Then, they get to work. Batcheller joined up with two other business students from the University of Northern Iowa, Maddie Palmersheim and Robert Sales, to bring an idea to life in 48 hours.
Batcheller and her team chose to create contact containers that are better for the environment. When asked for more details on the product, Batcheller mentioned that the group has to keep specifics under wraps because they do not have a patent on the item yet.
During the weekend, the team had to overcome several challenges. Because everyone on the team had a background in business, they struggled primarily with the science and engineering aspects of development. There was a team of mentors standing by throughout the weekend to help teams develop ideas, but Batcheller said the mentors provided some disruption to ensure the team got to experience “entrepreneurial stress” to make the experience authentic.
Ashley Kruger, Business Career Services advisor senior, felt that the event was exceedingly valuable for students, especially for those interested in entrepreneurship, and made it possible for the office to sponsor Bailey Batcheller.
“It offered students the opportunity to not only gain experience in crafting business plans, marketing a product and delivering a pitch, but it also gave students an incredible opportunity to learn more about the startup community in Kansas City, network with others, and gain valuable insight into what it really means to be an entrepreneur,” Kruger said.
After a weekend of hard work, the team presented their ideas and was chosen as the winning group. As a prize, the team was given a chance to pitch their product to Black and Veatch, a Kansas City-based engineering firm.
For Batcheller, the best take-away from the weekend was not bragging rights but relationships.
“It was like a big family at the end of the weekend,” Batcheller said. “The people I met were amazing.”
Her advice for students interested in the competition is to “do it and give it all you’ve got.”
“The more you put in, the more you get out,” she said. “Some of these people are looking to build their future and they need your help.”
Read more about the KC Startup Competition.