This past weekend, myself and two other interns had the pleasure of attending the Blackstone Startup Weekend Powered by Techstars at UCLA, California. We had the opportunity to learn what goes into a startup, have one-on-ones with extremely knowledgable mentors, and gain insight from several speakers. They taught us the steps that go into pitching an idea and how to present our business models.
We were mentored by Darwyn Metzger, a former star of America Now, Emmy-winning journalist, and the founder and CEO of Phantom, a digital marketing and social media strategy firm. Darwyn not only gave us valuable insight into our own business idea but insight into the entire marketing industry, some of his experiences, and his opinion on a few trends in the stock market right now. He was apart of building up some of the most famous viners images and then transitioning them to stay relevant after vine shut down. Darwyn emphasized the need to stay relevant in your market, no matter how popular the service or product may be at any given time. He also highlighted the importance of entering ‘blue seas’ and not red. It is much easier to create a new market space than to compete with companies already there. Talking to Darwyn, among other mentors, was personally my favorite aspect of the weekend.
Additionally, I had the opportunity to be one-on-two critiqued on my pitch. I had never pitched an idea in a setting like this before, making it extremely interesting to get instant feedback on some of my ideas. Two of the mentors listened to the pitch my team and I had developed and helped refine it for the final presentation. They provided a general model for creating a pitch which I look forward to using again in the future. Most of the advice they provided can be used for future endeavors.
Traveling to California and participating in the Blackstone Startup Weekend was an amazing experience. I learned so much in such a short time span and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I am looking forward to sharing my new insight with the UAlbany campus.