54 hours to create a startup


Photo Courtesy of Founders Illinois Entrepreneurs

University students had 54 hours to form teams and put together a startup September. 22-24. Organizers are currently deciding whether or not to host a spring session due to the success.

By Samantha Boyle, Contributing writer

For three days in September, students at the University came together to form teams and practice developing entrepreneurship skills.

Students first formed teams on Friday, and then came up with startup ideas that they would work on for the next 54 hours.

This event, called 54, is run by Founders, a student entrepreneurship organization.

Ankith Subramanya, sophomore in LAS, created a team of four people this year. They developed a startup for an app that is designed to help travelers manage their budgets.

“Our application basically lets the user input his budget and his calendar,” he said. “And the app generates a feed, so when he’s planning a trip he basically just scrolls through his feed and selects the one he likes.”

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    Subramanya’s team won third place for this startup.

    “We were pleasantly surprised,” he said.

    Subramanya and his team have plans to continue developing their app. Because they were one of the top teams this year, they will have resources from 54 to continue working on their project.

    One of the judges, Reza Farivar, even told Subramanya that the app idea was something he was thinking about for a while and will meet with the team in November to continue to develop this project.

    Co-director and former competitor Matthew Rastovac said that a lot of students who come to the event are some sort of engineering majors. This is something that Rastovac wants to change about 54.

    “To make a successful startup you need a broad, diverse skill set that everyone can contribute to a little bit,” he said.

    Rastovac said that the Founders team behind 54 really care about entrepreneurship and want to make it successful for all of its attendees.

    “It’s not just another event to us; it’s something that we actually care about because entrepreneurship is something we are passionate about,” he said.

    Rastovac said that to find a diverse group of student backgrounds this year, they have been targeting a lot of LAS, Business and ACES students.

    “Anyone can come, and that’s the thing that we try to emphasize,” he said.

    Anusha Haidry, sophomore in LAS, said that the event seemed interesting, even without having a business or engineering background.

    “It’s something that intrigues me on the side, like making a team of people and creating something,” Haidry said.

    The event typically takes place in the fall, but because of the recent success of 54, a spring session might be organized as well.

    “Just come ready to persist with your team, work on your idea and have some fun because it’s all about meeting people and learning,” Rastovac said.

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