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Open 2013:  Funding Student Ideas
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Open 2013: Funding Student Ideas



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  • 1. PSU Sparkplug Igniting student ideas Matthew Poese and Liz KisenwetherPenn State University’s Engineering Leadership and Entrepreneurship Programs
  • 2. Problem• Student groups have good ideas – rarely move them forward – meager resources for parts to build prototypes Solution• A funding platform to capitalize an idea – students articulate a value proposition – students enlist stakeholders – stakeholders back the project • typical contribution is $5-$50
  • 3. SparkPlug• Give a $500 grant to student groups – groups mount a crowd-sourced funding drive • Kickstarter, Indie-Go-Go – faculty advisor keeps them on track – use the grant to: • buy materials for prototype • shoot a video • buy advertisement • get web hosting space
  • 4. Application• Short, simple• Evaluate the value proposition – is it suited for Kickstarter or similar? – does it appear to have a market? • ask for a quick market survey as first step• Evaluate the functionality – Students have big dreams – Try to fund reasonable pieces of the dream
  • 5. SmartPurse • An active indiegogo campaign • Flex-funding – not an all-or-nothing deal – Goal is $5k • Established new relationship with a manufacturer near PSU • Used her SparkPlug grant to buy advertising in Vogue to coincide with indiegogo campaign • Dreams of raising $100k with the campaign • From an educational standpoint, already a success
  • 6. PSU EcosystemSequence of courses that focus on idea generation/evaluation Get market reaction using SparkPlug Form a company in Lion Launch Pad
  • 7. Other Connectivity• SparkPlug team sponsors an engineering senior design team – Business students have good idea – hack a prototype – use engineering senior design team to: • clean up prototype • create a design-for-manufacture
  • 8. Clipboard+
  • 9. What we’ve seen• Seeding student ideas leads to: – Increased collaboration between students of many disciplines – Increased self-efficacy – Like an internship: • experience non-academic lessons – Order fulfillment – Customer service – Inventory management – Production problems