UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Navigating the ever-growing Penn State entrepreneurial landscape can be a daunting task for new and returning students. Student entrepreneurship club Innoblue is launching the inaugural blueStart Festival, Oct. 4–10, to help students jump into the Penn State entrepreneurship community and connect to resources across campus.
The festival is being organized by students, for students, and will feature seven low-friction events to inspire, support and supercharge a student’s journey from interest to idea to venture.
“I hope students walk away from blueStart more energized and equipped than ever!" said event co-founder and Innoblue president, Shakay Simpson, class of 2021 in the Smeal College of Business. "I want the event to spark or re-light the entrepreneurial fire in attendees so that when they leave, they go back to their drawing boards and use the knowledge and skills acquired to continue to innovate and challenge the status quo. It’s also my hope that students will walk away from blueStart having been immersed into Penn State entrepreneurship and able to understand the full scope of resources accessible to them."
From Oct. 4 to 10, students can expect to engage in the following activities:
Demo Day — Monday, Oct. 4, 6 p.m., Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center.
The event will highlight emerging Penn State undergraduate student startups and the programs they participated in last year.
Keynote – Tuesday, Oct. 5, 4:30 p.m., Flex Theatre, HUB-Robeson Center.
The event will feature Andrew Briglia and Matt Woods, two successful Penn State alumni who will share their entrepreneurial experiences to aid and inspire students on their journey.
Fireside Chat – Tuesday, Oct. 5, 5:30 p.m., Flex Theatre, HUB-Robeson Center
The event will introduce students to potential career paths within the realm of entrepreneurship.
Team Formation – Wednesday, Oct. 6, 4 p.m., Flex Theatre, HUB-Robeson Center
This event will create an opportunity for students who wish to join a team, form a team, or network with other like-minded students to come together and meet one another.
"There are so many individual entrepreneurs on campus whose ideas have become paralyzed due to the lack of a strong team to execute,” said Simpson. “The team formation event allows students to connect with others who are equally as passionate, while being guided on a journey of developing ideas into feasible concepts in one weekend."
Shopify – Start Your Business – Wednesday, Oct. 6, 6:30 p.m., Happy Valley LaunchBox, 224 S. Allen Street
This event will destroy the initial inertia of starting a business by walking students through starting and maintaining a Shopify store.
Startup Market – Thursday, Oct. 7, 5 p.m., Charlotte Ray & TV Lounge, HUB-Robeson Center
This event will provide students with the chance to meet other student startups and connect with other startup resources around campus. Hosted in partnership with Lion LaunchPad.
TechStars Startup Weekend – Oct. 8–10 , Happy Valley LaunchBox, 224 S. Allen Street
TechStars Startup Weekend is a 3-day immersive program where aspiring entrepreneurs can experience startup life. Startup Weekend provides participants many opportunities to engage and connect with like-minded individuals — and truly start something amazing. Register today.
“It’s rare that students get exposure and the opportunity to work directly with widely renowned accelerator programs such as TechStars,” said Simpson. “Providing access to these resources and their quality of expertise will prove to be an invaluable experience for many and will hopefully inspire students to continue to develop their ideas to reach a point where they can apply for seed funding and similar programs.”
The leaders of Innoblue said they see the annual blueStart Festival as an opportunity to shape and change the culture at Penn State. Successful ventures require different skill sets and perspectives to successfully address societal challenges. Bringing together passionate individuals from different backgrounds can create incredible opportunities for innovation and partnership.
"This event has the opportunity to change the reality of entrepreneurship at Penn State for students, faculty, and the community,” says blueStart co-founder Hayden Long, class of 2022 in the College of Information Sciences and Technology. “If we can successfully create a safe atmosphere to explore and be introduced to entrepreneurship, we could create a greater amount of successful ventures. Hopefully, in turn, this will create a self-perpetuating cycle that could elevate the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Penn State."
To learn more about the festival and highlighted events, visit the event website.
The organizations involved include:
Happy Valley Capital provides students with a learn-by-doing environment and support network through hands-on projects, educational presentations, fireside chats, workshops, competitions, and other local or intercollegiate events. Ultimately, the organization aims to facilitate student engagement with local startups and amplify founder's access to convenient funding and competent human capital.
Innoblue aims to create a community for students to discover entrepreneurial skills, collaborate with like-minded peers, and innovate, while being connected with resources that aid in their individual ventures.
Invent Penn State is a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university/community/industry collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind.
Lion LaunchPad is a special living option located in Leete Hall at University Park, where student entrepreneurs, hackers, inventors, artists and change-makers come together to experience and learn about the Penn State entrepreneurship culture. The many facets it offers include testing out ideas, to creating prototypes, to participating in campus events, mentorship, a micro-grant program and a living, learning community in the residence halls.