Another Penn First: The Startup Un-Conference

By Marissa Hu, Wharton MBA 2014

Last weekend, Wharton Entrepreneurship Club and PennApps organized the Startup Un-Conference, the first of its kind in the Philly student community. The goal was to foster collaboration between the business and tech communities by getting entrepreneurial-minded students together in a room to talk about their startups and products.

We had a few leaders at successful startups give keynote addresses about their successes and failures in starting companies. But the focus was on interactive workshops with 5 to 15 people, led by experienced entrepreneurs, VCs and professors, to give students a chance to dig deeper into the questions and problems they face in their own startups.

 Here are a few takeaways from the Startup Un-Conference:

  • Taking on outside investment tends to force your business into a binary outcome: massive success or fast failure. RJMetrics made a deliberate decision not to raise capital until they’d reached at least seven figures in revenue. (Robert Moore and Jake Stein, co-founders of RJMetrics)
  • Prove yourself as an entrepreneur by “leveling up” with each project you work on: make it bigger and better each time. (Steve Welch, co-founder and managing partner of Dreamit Ventures)
  • The sweet spot of success is the intersection of something you’re really good at and something you love doing. Find it. (Kon Leong, CEO of ZL Technologies)
  • Startups are a place where resiliency could be a bad thing, which causes you to take too long to fail. It’s hard to know when you should pivot or adjust your business, but having the intuition and the guts to admit when you’ve failed is just as important as persevering in your idea. (Apu Gupta and Nick Shiftan, co-founders of Curalate)

 

RJMetrics
Robert Moore and Jake Stein

 

Apu Gupta and Nick Shiftan, Workshop: “How to Know When to Pivot”
Apu Gupta and Nick Shiftan, Workshop: “How to Know When to Pivot”

 

Matt Gershoff, CEO of Conductrics, Workshop: “Testing and Analytics for Entrepreneurs, by Entrepreneurs”
Matt Gershoff, CEO of Conductrics, Workshop: “Testing and Analytics for Entrepreneurs, by Entrepreneurs”
  

Loren Feldman, Small Business Editor of the NY Times, Workshop: “How to Talk About Your Startup”
Loren Feldman, Small Business Editor of the NY Times, Workshop: “How to Talk About Your Startup”

 

Steve Welch, co-founder and managing partner at Dreamit Ventures
Steve Welch, co-founder and managing partner at Dreamit Ventures

    Marissa Hu

Bio: Marissa Hu is a first year MBA student at Wharton, and one of the organizers of this year’s Startup Un-Conference. She is also the co-founder of an e-commerce startup called Co-Ed Supply, which is reinventing the college care package. You can find her on Twitter as @marissahu.