HLS Conference Looks at Startups

Students from across the Boston area gathered at Harvard Law School to pool their ideas for improving education through startup companies as part of the 3 Day Startup: Entrepreneurship In Education conference this weekend.

The conference, organized by Law School student Michael A. McMillin, ran from Friday through Sunday and attracted students from across the University who, by the end of the conference, came up with ideas for their own education-themed startups.

3 Day Startup is a nonprofit founded four years ago that runs events and conferences globally. This is the first time the organization has hosted a conference at Harvard.

McMillin said that entrepreneurship at Harvard currently suffers from what he called the “silo problem,” where students from different schools often do not interact.

“The problem is that business students talk to business students, undergrads talk to undergrads, law students talk to law students. We want to get people talking across all different disciplines and come up with new, interesting ideas,” McMillin said.

During the conference, students were split into groups, within which they collaborated in order to generate an idea for a start-up. On Sunday evening they pitched their ideas to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs, who served as mentors throughout the conference and offered feedback on their proposals.

McMillin said that while three days is too short a time to expect fully-fledged startups to emerge, he hopes the event encouraged attendees to think more about the entrepreneurial benefits of collaboration across the University.

“Some of these ideas probably will go on to become startups and real companies, but many of them won’t,” he said. “The real point is to come here and meet people and start something, so they have that experience. The prize is communication.”

Law School student Nicholas P. Whitney, who said he wants to pursue entrepreneurial law, said that he saw the weekend as a way to better understand the process of brainstorming ideas.

“It’s just about the experience for me, really,” he said. “If I get a concrete idea, well, that’s just a bonus.”

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