York College’s Spartan Startup program helps develop ‘entrepreneurial thinkers’
When Bryce Kruger signed up for the Spartan Startup program at York College of Pennsylvania, he wasn’t sure it was really for him. He was a Public Relations major with no plans to start his own business.
Still, he gave it a shot.
The three-day event, which was a collaboration between York College’s J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Community Engagement, was the College’s first installment of the national 3-Day Startup program that began at the University of Texas.
More than 20 York College students and community members participated in the program, which tasked groups to develop a business idea and then pitch it – all within a three-day weekend in March.
Bryce discovered the program was much more than a springboard to entrepreneurship: it was a guidebook for facing challenges, working with groups and solving problems when he gets out into the real world.
“Everything you experience during the three-day weekend, you will run into during everyday life,” Bryce says. “It has already been really helpful for me to problem solve and go out to achieve great things.”
‘A very intense weekend’
The Spartan Startup program is meant to help people interested in starting their own businesses. While many professions have groups and collectives to turn to for help, there are few options in the startup world. That’s where the Spartan Startup program comes into play.
3-Day Startup Facilitator Sandra Spencer said the program puts people from all different backgrounds into a lab setting. There, they will be required to solve problems, work with new people. and develop ideas.
“We try to create this environment over three days of what it feels like to be an entrepreneur,” Sandra says. “It’s a very intense weekend. We liken it to three months of work in three days.”
Over the three days, groups develop businesses, test them and then pitch them to a panel. The program is not like sitting in a classroom, Sandra says. It’s introducing concepts about the risks of starting a business.
Takeaways from the event
While the focus on the three-day event was entrepreneurship, Bryce said he learned so much more than just starting a new business. He learned about applying his specific skills in work groups, bringing value to groups and working cohesively in a diverse group with varying skills and backgrounds.
“I found that I could really bring people together, draw on other skill sets in order to achieve a common goal, and I could become a facilitator to make things happen,” Bryce says. “I walked away knowing that I could apply everything I learned over the three days to anything in life.”
Sandra says that the biggest takeaway from the program is not necessarily starting a business but rather becoming an “entrepreneurial thinker.” That means being able to solve problems and innovate for your own business or for someone else's business.
“You need to be able to identify what are the strengths you need to bring into your team, where do you bring the most value, how do you build a team and work with different personalities and how do you execute the bigger vision,” Sandra says.
Bryce says the event isn’t just tailored to people who want to start businesses; it can be helpful to everyone.
“I would recommend this program to everybody, regardless of what year they are or what major they are,” Bryce says. “I would most definitely recommend this program for anyone looking for a challenge and wants to diversify their experiences.”