By: Lexie Newhouse
March 8-10, 2019 | The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute supported students with the opportunity to attend TechStars Startup Weekend, a 54-hour competition where participants build a startup from scratch.
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Qazi Haq, a junior in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. I’m pursing the Honors track in Finance with a double major in Accounting. I will be interning with Ernst and Young this coming summer in their Atlanta office, which was where Startup Weekend was held this year.
The weekend kicked off with minute long pitches. Care to share about your experience pitching?
Initially, I didn’t want to pitch. I went hoping I would help someone with their idea, but I met some mentors and my peers advised me to go for it. While I was standing in line to go pitch in front of the group, I just thought of the idea. In a minute, I had gone through probably 50 different ideas until I came to my final one. I’m glad I did, because if I had not pitched, I wouldn’t have met my wonderful teammates. We wouldn’t have been able to create something magical.
For people pitching, what’s one piece of advice you would offer?
Just think of pitching as a conversation. Don’t be nervous. All you’re doing is conveying your thoughts to someone else. And be sure to maintain eye contact. It will make it more intimate.
What startup idea did you build over the course of the weekend?
So, we’re facing an epidemic. Children don’t want to sit down and read any more; they’re too consumed with technology. My idea revolved around that very problem. I wanted to used technology to help children regain that passion for reading and learning. It revolved around using augmented reality to create a more fun experience for the readers. My idea focused on specifically transitioning students who were going from picture books to full on novels.
Through our platform, which would be an app on a phone, you would scan the book cover or the end of the chapter to unlock an augmented reality character. The character we used was Percy Jackson. We built a minimum viable product, also called an “MVP,” that showcased the idea. We scanned the book cover of Percy Jackson and had a Greek mythological creature pop up. The end goal was to make it interact with readers to enhance that reading experience.
What was the biggest challenge in creating a business in 54 hours?
The biggest challenge for our team was creating the actual product itself. It required a lot of technical components, and we just did not have enough time or the resources to accomplish that. From an overall perspective, a challenge that everyone encountered was the importance of finding the right team members. I was lucky enough to end up with great team members, but I cannot say that was the same case for everyone.
What was your favorite part of the weekend?
Being able to solve a problem. Personally, I love solving problems. Trying to solve multiple problems in a short amount of time – It was amazing. I was also able to meet and speak with exceptional individuals to learn about their journeys, their stories. By listening to their experiences, I was able to develop new perspectives.
Why would you encourage fellow Georgia State students to participate in future Startup Weekends?
We come to college to figure out what we want to do in the future. And even when we’re juniors and seniors, we still don’t quite know. Having diverse experiences such as Startup Weekend will give you more tools in your toolkit to determine what you want to build in the long run. I urge every student, regardless of what college they attend, to have multiple experiences – Experiences that are unrelated. Experiences that will help them develop new ideas and perspectives.
What’s one word you would use to describe Startup Weekend?