We have a strategic plan: it's called 'doing things.'
- Cam Houser has transformed students into entrepreneurs on four continents. Invigorated by the challenges facing entrepreneurship education, Cam runs 3 Day Startup programs in the US and abroad.
- Before receiving his MBA from the University of Texas's McCombs School of Business, Cam held Director and Project Manager positions at Amplifier, a startup providing ecommerce and fulfillment services to clients such as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, The Onion, and Despair, Inc.
- Cam thinks the word "passion" is overused when it comes to talking about one's work but has a hard time describing his feelings about inspiring young entrepreneurs through 3 Day Startup any other way.
- [Photo by René Lego Photography]
- TALK ABOUT THE KEY TO 3 DAY STARTUP
- The most important thing first off is just focusing on execution and getting things done. There is -- in the startup world, as just in the larger business community -- there's lots of talking, and strategizing, and over-intellectualizing the process. And at 3 Day Startup, what we found along the way is that the most valuable thing most of the time is just taking action.
- 3 Day Startup is an entrepreneurship education program for university students. It's based on learning by doing. A lot of schools across the country, the way they teach entrepreneurship is taking tests and writing papers. And we figured that there's probably a better way to do this, one that's going to be more instructive and just have better results.
- Again, the learning by doing model is all about actually starting companies, so our program, during one weekend, students are actually starting companies. Whether they know how to or not. You can start a company in three days. I see it happen all the time.
- Our goal at 3 Day Startup is to cram three or four months worth of progress, in terms of starting your company and moving forward, in a weekend. And when we started it, we didn't even really know what we were doing, we actually saw this happen. Now we've gotten a lot better at that model and we make it happen on a regular basis at universities all over the world.
- All of us who founded 3 Day Startup, we'd either founded or worked at startups before. And when I was in grad school at UT is when I met the co-founders for 3 Day Startup. And we noticed that there was -- students were all facing very -- these problems related to actually starting companies. Finding co-founders, finding money, finding mentors, and being successful executing and releasing products, and raising money, that sort of thing.
- So, we wanted to actually solve all those problems at the university level, because we saw a lot of potential there that just wasn't being currently expressed. So we've done over fifty programs all over the world but were actually most proud of a lot of our Austin companies just because that's where we've had the most 3 Day Startup events.
- ANY OF THOSE COMPANIES YOU'D LIKE TO MENTION?
- Famigo, which is a marketplace for family games, has been really great to see them grow and develop. There's Orduro, which does inventory management for people selling goods online. As well as Hoot.me, and they what they do is turn Facebook into study mode. So, these are three of about fifty companies that have come out of the program that we're really excited to see where they go.
- TALK ABOUT THE AUSTIN TALENT POOL
- I think one of the greatest things about Austin talent is that you can actually find it. It's around. Austin is a good kind of "Goldilocks" thing: it's in the middle. It's not too big where you get lost in the churn, but it's not too small that there's not enough volume of talent. Here in Austin, there's lots of people who are really talented.
- You can find them and you can approach them and work with them. There's not a lot of attitude at all in this town. And so it's really easy to get in contact with the people who are going to becoming you're early employees and co-founders.
- I think what's great about the Austin talent pool is that it's real talent. What's funny is some of the talent doesn't actually know it's talent. But one of the differences between Austin and New York and LA, is that in LA, everyone has, you know, a screenplay. In Austin, everybody has a startup that they're working on. So, a lot of them are full time and a lot of them are part time. But what I'm continually impressed with is just the depth of talent for these people and the projects they're working on.
- WHY AUSTIN?
- I graduated in 2000 and I'd heard about Austin for two reasons: for the tech scene and for the music scene. And that's exactly why I moved here, to play in bands and do tech startups.
- During 3 Day Startup, we're entirely focused on execution. So there's no seminars, there's no lectures. It's not conference. It's a bunch of really talented motivated university students in a room starting a company. The whole thing is a really intense, passionate experience.
- Again, it's not a classroom environment. It's students actually starting these companies, so they drink too much energy drinks, and stay up all night, and by Sunday, they've got a good lead on actually starting this company.
- We do a lot of work in universities, and a lot of work with these mentors who've started companies. They come back to her alma mater and they see these students and they realize wait, if I was trying to get into this school right now, I probably wouldn't get accepted.
- I want to feel that way about Austin entrepreneurs. I was able to start company and we've been pretty successful, but I would like the continued kind of vibrancy, and life, and talent in this city to keep growing at the pace that it is so that if I were to try to do this again in another ten or fifteen years, it would be a totally different landscape, with that many amazing people in it.