48 Hours to Launch a Web Startup

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Future entrepreneurs get down to business

Ian Mikutel and Greg Koberger are young entrepreneurs from Rochester Institute of Technology who successfully created RIT48. RIT48 is an event that brought together students of different majors—all with entrepreneurial aspirations. During the nearly 48-hour weekend event, student teams brainstormed and created Web startup companies ranging from online resume builders to roommate matching sites to a poker management site.

“RIT has a great computing school, great business school, great art school and great engineering school,” says Ian Mikutel, fourth-year information technology major. “That is all the diversity you need for any start-up company. RIT48 is a great way to kick start that. At the end, students can be proud of what they did in a short amount of time and hopefully it’s incentive to keep going with the product.”

Mikutel has already launched his own startup, TheWiire.com, a site that reviews Nintendo’s Wii video game console and other video games. Koberger hopes to eventually launch a business of his own.

Throughout RIT48, a panel of judges offered feedback to the budding entrepreneurs. The judges, many successful Rochester-area entrepreneurs, say what they look for in a start-up company includes a solid business plan and market analysis.

They provided insight as to why some great business ideas are successful and others fall flat like the premise from Seth Godin’s book “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable.”

“You are driving down the Thruway and you see a purple cow all by itself,” says Lee Drake, RIT48 Judge and OS-Cubed Inc. CEO. “What do you do? You stop. You whip out your phone. You take pictures. You twitter it to everyone. You let everyone know there is a purple cow in a field in New York state. That’s what your product needs to do. That’s what your marketing message needs to be. You have to have a product that has a purple cow, that is different from the other things out there.”

Cash prizes were awarded to the top three teams and the judges also handed out a rising star award and best end-to-end product award.