MARA KILGORE — A few dozen students gathered this past weekend for 3 Day Startup, a hands-on, entrepreneurial learning experience hosted by the Red Frame Lab- Denison’s center for design thinking, creative problem-solving, and entrepreneurship. 3DS is a nonprofit education program based out of Austin, Texas that works with universities and enterprises all over the world. At Denison, 3DS facilitator, Malcolm Bradford, led students in a 72-hour business-building project. To begin, students formed teams and brainstormed their own business ideas, then practiced pitching, prototyping, and were mentored by local entrepreneurs and Denison professors. By the end of the program, students had prepared pitches for their business ideas for a Shark Tank-style review in front of a panel of local business owners.

According to Kerry Shea Penland, an entrepreneurship coach at the Red Frame Lab, there is a strong spirit of entrepreneurship at Denison which led Red Frame to bring 3DS to campus. Penland saw a need to bring tangible experience to students on campus to foster this entrepreneurial mindset. Amongst the student participants, some came with no business experience and were excited simply to learn about startups and meet new people. Other students, who ranged from all different backgrounds and majors came with an established interest in entrepreneurship. Al Dilorenzo ‘19, a studio art major from Columbus, shared, “I am attending 3DS because I am working on a platform that brings artists together to share their work and build a sense of community. I think that the relationship between art and business has a lot of potential for positive change.”

Another student, Meshach Malley ‘22, a cinema major from Columbus, explained, “I am very interested in small business and enterprise. I have been my whole life.” Malley’s hope was to test a few ideas he had been thinking about for a while and see if they had any professional viability.

Malcolm Bradford, the exchange program manager at 3DS, joined the company because he loves bringing ideas to life. He believes that 3DS does this in an “intentional and action based” way that encourages teamwork and feedback. “Feedback, feedback, feedback is what we live by,” he told students during the program introduction. Bradford believes one of the greatest parts of the event is the relationships built. He explained, “Students often stay together with their teams afterward. They check in on each other’s ideas and remain friends.”

To conclude the 3DS program, teams pitched their business ideas to a panel of four local entrepreneurs to receive feedback. Over and over again, the panel expressed pride for the progress made by students in only a few short days. Dilorenzo presented on the idea they had entered the weekend with, a platform for artists to connect and share their work. Alongside them, a team of students who helped shape the idea into something the panel and other students were excited about. As the weekend wrapped up, students left with new problem-solving skills and business perspectives that 3DS hopes will inspire them in their entrepreneurial ventures.