Veteran internet entrepreneurs gave area college students advice about starting their own companies Tuesday night, as students presented their ideas to various venture capital firms.
StartEmUp, an internet company that helps new businesses get money, held its first of four conferences, called Majoring in the New Economy, a forum in which students and businesspeople can interact to develop marketable products. The conference also introduced students to a semester-long competition called StartEmUp’s JumpStart 2K Business Plan Competition, in which students submit business plans to win startup money for their companies.
Students met in the Washington Monarch Hotel to hear how they can get involved in the ever-more-competitive business world. Experienced and new entrepreneurs shared stories of success and failure during panel discussions.
Founded in January 2000, StartEmUp helps new students start dot-com companies. David Huang, co-founder and director of operations, said most business plans young people submit to companies often go unread. StartEmUp gives students the strategy and money to legitimize new plans, he said.
We teach kids to not be shy about their age, Huang said. Age can be both a liability and an asset.
Huang said internet companies are looking for young people more than ever, but inexperience sometimes can be unattractive. StartEmUp has backing from major businesses that can give a professional touch to students’ ideas, he said.
Students are able to submit their plans online at the company’s Web site. Only graduate and undergraduate students from D.C.-area universities are able to participate.
A panel of experienced entrepreneurs and investors will judge their plans. The winners from the competition will be announced in late January. The winner will receive seed-capital money to start his or her business.
Freshman Richard Carew already has his own internet company that offers a study tool for economics students, but said he attended the conference to learn more about getting money for his business.
I am hoping to learn how to focus my business more; how to gain a foothold on my idea, Carew said.
Junior Nii-Emil Alexander-Reindorf said that he wanted to learn more about the process of starting a business and gave his e-mail address to some businesses that he thought could help him.
Panelist Jeremy Brosowsky, founder and publisher of Washington Business Forward, said that there are a lot of painful times ahead for people just starting out, and there is more to business than money.
When you’ve got your whole life into it, it’s the best thing in the world, he said.