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3 Day Startup was incorporated in 2010 as a non-profit student organization that strives to activate entrepreneurs through experiential education in higher education. To date, 8,640 students and 123 schools across 26 countries have participated in 3 Day Startup. As a result of 3 Day Startup, 90 companies were launched, 34 accelerator/incubator applications were accepted, and over $70 million was raised by alumni. 3 Day Startup has ran 132 programs total.  

Steps for Planning 

When planning a 3 Day Startup event, it is important to focus on approval, fundraising, marketing, and planning logistics. It is best to have one lead organizer, an assistant lead organizer, and a team to help plan the event. In addition, mentors are significant to the daily operation of the program as facilitators will seek guidance in moving the program forward. (Those who have start-up experience usually work best for this role).


Fundraising is arguably the most important of the listed points. An approximate estimate for a 3DS event is $20,000. However, the cost can be deferred with proper budgeting and planning. University Innovation Fellows (UIF) get special consideration from the 3DS foundation, which will apply a discount towards the event fee. Costs such as transportation and food also need to be covered. The University can be asked to allocate funds towards the event. The best way to obtain funds from the University is by meeting with the individual deans of each college, requesting a reasonable donation ($1,500 for example), and then asking each dean to match the previous contribution. Another effective method to obtain funds is to involve the University President and executive staff and explain the importance and significance behind the event. Establishing critical connections could potentially lead to a meeting with a Board of Governors. Lastly, contacting donors, alumni, and a local outreach department of some sort will assist in additional funds.


Subsequently, after the event is approved and funded, it needs to be marketed to ensure sufficient participation in the event. Stationing a display table to advertise the event will target students and faculty throughout the University, especially when located in a centralized, high-traffic location such as a student activity center. Offering candy or other small giveaways provide an incentive to visit the table and listen to the pitch. Delivering an effective pitch to the university dean, academic college representatives, classrooms, and/or student organizations is one of the most effective ways to reaching diverse audiences. 

In regards to marketing, it is also important to promote diversity. Marketing efforts should be equalized throughout different majors to create interdisciplinary collision between students. 


Finally, the event requires logistical planning, such as a transportation provider, transportation timetable, facility usage, food delivery, and materials that may be needed for the event. Meeting with a faculty sponsor will assist in figuring cost savings and efficiently booking different groups at different times.

Process Overview

The 3-Day Startup is a foundation which promotes entrepreneurial and innovation on campuses. The main focus of this process is to teach by doing. Ideally, the goal of this project is to take a wide variety of students and allowing them to experience the importance of innovation and entrepreneurial skills needed to create a start-up company.  During the 3 days students are lead through the following modules; 

  • ideation- the process of coming up with ideas and concepts;
  • team formation- voting on the top idea to expand on within the next steps;
  • customer discovery- identifying what potential customers would want/ need;
  • rapid prototyping- figuring out the logistics of the idea/ concept;
  • pitch workshops- presenting the finalized project to stakeholders. 

The first-day students are asked to come up an idea for a company. The students collaborate, vote, and pick the top idea and begin to expand upon. The second-day students are introduced to potential customers. This gives students the opportunity to see how to make their idea more valuable to companies and investors. After the idea has been transformed into a company and has been prototyped it is presented on the third day to the stakeholders.