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One month ago, an exciting and unique event took place: the UT Austin 3 Day Startup vs. COVID Innovation Sprint. We recruited over 100 applications from across all colleges and majors. Ultimately, over 60 students took part in this immersive virtual program. The 3DS staff broadcasted live from Capital Factory in downtown Austin as students pitched more than 20 initial ideas for COVID-related products or services. Entrepreneurship mindset and key startup principles were discussed, then teams were formed around the top 12 pitches, as voted on by the students themselves.

Day Two was amazing, full of hands-on work, mentorship, and incentives for focused participation. After covering Lean Canvas, doing Customer Discovery and developing prototypes, twelve amazing professionals rotated amongst the teams to hear their ideas and offer feedback to hone their ventures. Our teams then learn more about pitching, Go-To-Market Strategies, and financial models before wrapping up the evening with intermediate pitches.

Some of the wonderful innovations included a UV sanitizing keychain, compostable airplane dividers, bubble tea vending machine, campus food delivery app, voting poll location app, drone cleaning service, and a service to check on elderly family members. The 3DS staff was impressed with the caliber of these UT students as we watched their workflow via Slack.

The final day of the UT COVID Innovation Sprint had the teams working on their pitches and slide decks, followed by practice runs with the 3DS staff. Employing a bracket-style tournament for the second half of the day, 4 groups of 3 teams pitched in parallel. Our professional panelists offered their advice to each team in their pitch Zoom room. The top team from each pitch room then moved on the final pitch. On the line was a $2,000 scholarship for the team with the most votes. Additional team and individual awards finished the event.

Special thanks to our UT Austin & 3 Day Startup vs. COVID Innovation Sprint sponsors: UT Austin’s School of Nursing, Graduate School, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Genesis, Amy’s Ice Cream, Roppolo’s Pizza, Soup Peddler, and Tiff’s Treats.