Entrepreneurial Spirit Found in hackATL

Emory Entrepreneurship and Venture Management (EEVM) (eevm.org) is a student-led organization on campus concerned with the advancement of entrepreneurial ideas to college students and the broader Atlanta regional area.

This is one of the fastest-growing clubs on campus with well over 1,000 people regularly engaging the group via events. From Nov. 22 to 24, EEVM will be hosting hackATL, Atlanta’s first business-orientated hackathon combining technological innovation and the successes of business planning at the Goizueta Business School. The event allows individuals to simulate a startup for a weekend, without the risks often associated with creating a corporation. At the end of the weekend, participants present their business plans to venture capitalists (VCs), individuals who invest in startup firms for a stake in the company and local entrepreneurs. These business experts serve as judges who provide insightful feedback to the participants about their startup proposal, teamwork and how to better approach entrepreneurship. The judges will also award $2,000 in cash prizes to the teams with the most promising ideas so they can pursue their startup. hackATL is already one of the most respected hackathons in the southeast with sponsors such as Atlanta Tech Village, Uber, Zipcar, Red Bull, Rivalry, TEDxEmory, SalesLoft, CallRail, Rigot, Campus Bubble and College Council. These high-power companies believe that EEVM is one of the best ways to reach out to future employees and their sponsorship speaks volume to the importance of hackATL. Long lines of sponsorships of high-power companies such as these are networking and learning opportunities that business school students can only imagine in their dreams.

A hackathon, as described on EEVM’s website, is “an event, typically lasting several days, in which groups of developers, business people, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus and graphic artists pitch ideas for new startup companies.” Although hackathons are typically associated with “techies,” EEVM has expanded the definition to include people with myriad backgrounds and majors outside of business. Although many clubs regarding business often seem inaccessible to those who are not part of the B-School, EEVM and hackATL offer a pleasant openness to non-business school majors. hackATL is about allowing people to explore their passion and make it a reality. This is especially important given how many people find themselves in unfulfilling mundane jobs. EEVM and hackATL seek for everyone to persue their passion and have the most enjoyable career possible, because entrepreneurs are their own bosses.

The competition is expected to have over 200 participants from Emory students to people from all across the state of Georgia. What makes hackATL so unique is that “winning the event” can mean a lot of different things. Participants in the event will not only get free food during the weekend (a bonus for any freshmen), but they will also gain a unique experience and insight into the world of startups. The participants will be able to speak to industry leaders about their idea and have the potential to receive seed funding.

“Do you have what it takes to build a business in 48 hours?” is a question often asked by the EEVM team on Wonderful Wednesdays. Obviously no one actually builds a business in 48 hours, but they do build a business plan in that period of time. The task of building even a business plan may seem daunting to many who have not tried to do it before, but that is exactly what hackATL is about. The weekend is one for people to learn and try new things without the costs typically associated with startups. Learning about and engaging in entrepreneurship is one of the most important life skills available to college students.

The skills learned at hackATL are lifelong skills such as defending your ideas, working productively with others and achieving tasks in relatively short periods of time. Entrepreneurship development is portable both to the business board room, if that is one’s career destination, but also to any current or future job you make seek to have. Creative and innovative solutions are necessary to keep up in the increasingly globalized 21st century. Having the ability to think quickly, critically and creatively is what sets individuals apart from the pack today. Tyler Cowen, one of the most respected economists, notes that “average is over,” and increasingly, individuals who are able to work creatively, productively and towards solutions will be the ones who are able to succeed in life and not be left behind.

I encourage everyone to register for hackATL at hackATL.org even if only to listen to the speakers. Like it or not, the world increasingly needs entrepreneurs. Everyone has the potential to be the next Steve Jobs if they set their mind to it, they just need to learn the right way to think, and hackATL is a unique opportunity to do that. So check out hackatl.org, and register today for one of the most important events of your life.

Kentucky Morrow is a College freshman from Edina, Minn,.

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