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Startup Weekend at Google Seoul CampusSUNY Koreaㅣ2019-03-15 17:16
CAPTION: Top left, SUNY Korea's Daye Eun, Rahel Zewde, Hanbin Baik, Kyounga Woo, and professor Chihmao
Hsieh pose for a picture at the end of Day #1. Top right, Daye Eun and Hanbin Baik hard at work with their
team on Day #2. Bottom right, the professional judges (from IGNITE Innovators, IE Business School, and UN
ESCAP) ask questions after the teams pitch on Day #3. Bottom left, Kyounga Woo appears on stage during final
presentations on Day #3. Inset, everybody pitches an idea on Day #1 to kick off the Startup Weekend at Google Campus Seoul.
On March 1st to 3rd, Google Campus Seoul hosted "Startup Weekend," a 52-hour entrepreneurship hackathon held in Gangnam at their office. Over 65 professionals and university students competed.
The Center for Global Entrepreneurship (CGE) at SUNY Korea welcomed Computer Science students in SUNY
Korea to apply for IGNITE "mini-grants" to participate in the competition; IGNITE is a new initiative at the CGE
that stands for "Inspiring Goals Now In Technology & Entrepreneurship." 16 applicants competed fiercely for the four mini-grants, and the winners of the 2019 grant were Hanbin Baik, Daye Eun, Kyounga Woo, and Rahel
Zewde. The CGE covered their event ticket costs and their 2-night Airbnb accommodations a few blocks away
from Google Campus Seoul.
Although our four students considered forming their own team, Startup Weekend offers participants to pitch
startup ideas at the beginning of Day #1 to let them decide what teams they want to join and what ideas they
want to work on. By the end of Day #1, it became clear that the four would almost all split up and go their own
way. Daye and Hanbin, however, stayed together on a team. On Day #2, teams were visited and offered advice by a batch of mentors with entrepreneurship or industry experience. On the evening of Day #3, the teams
pitched their ideas in 5-minute presentations to a panel of professional judges. All meals were covered for the
entire weekend and all 10 teams worked nonstop for 52 hours.
Most of the students were pleasantly surprised on Day #1 when they saw all the young professionals
participating. Kyounga said, "What I liked about this Startup weekend is that there were many mature
participants with experience in business." Daye also remarked, "It was interesting to experience and learn
that our written roles didn't matter in startups. I was a developer in our team and I still got to say my ideas and
discuss with peers." Hanbin had this to say: "Startup Weekend is an empowering event which inspires its
participants to bring their ideas and helps participants to design and build a realistic business model. I believe
that our students, young professionals to be, can benefit a lot from participating in this event." Rahel mentioned
that she was "able to develop presentation skills, business planning skills, and programming skills."
Overall, Professor Chihmao Hsieh, the Founding Director of the CGE, was happy with the lessons that the
students took away from the 52-hour event. "I feel like it opened some of their eyes about how they might apply
the concepts that they've learned in their coursework, to real-world ideas tackled by highly motivated young
industry professionals," he said. "It's important that they get this experience as soon as they have the background
to make contributions." Based on the effectiveness of the IGNITE mini-grant initiative and the experiences that
the students reported, SUNY Korea can expect that these IGNITE mini-grants will be offered again for students to
participate at Startup Weekend Seoul in 2020.
The CGE at SUNY Korea is led by prof Hsieh in the Business Management Department and was launched in Fall
2017 by a generous donation from former SUNY Korea professor Inman Song.