Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cam Houser Talks about 3 Day Startup

Cam Houser Talks about 3 Day Startup

Where are you from originally?

Charlotte, NC

What university did you go to?

Davidson College for undergrad, grad school at UT.

What brought you to Austin?

I moved here to do two things that Austin is particularly famous for: doing tech startups and playing in bands.

The first company I worked is Amplifier (, a merch/ecommerce provider for folks with large online audiences. Amplifier’s largest customer at the time was Despair (, the makers of the most awesomely depressing stuff on the internet. As you might imagine, the founders of Despair had some pretty interesting philosophies about business and people and my worldview is still informed by knowing them. Paradoxically, I found it hugely inspiring.

I started playing in indie rock bands pretty much right away and did that for many years. Haven’t played a show in a while but it’ll happen again sooner or later.

What is your group’s mission?

Make entrepreneurship ubiquitous at the university level.  Right now there is only one Marck Zuckerberg—3 Day Startup wants to find thirty more at universities all over world and provide the greatest impact possible on finding success with their startup.

What need does it fulfill?

Other disciplines inside of universities provide practice-based approaches: chemistry students have labs, mechanical engineering students have machine shops, art students have studio sessions.  3 Day Startup provides answers this need for entrepreneurship by providing an environment and a model for learning-by-doing with an emphasis on customer feedback and mentorship.

On a more individual basis, university students face obstacles along their startup journey, whether it is finding cofounders, finding mentors, or learning what to focus on. Our program helps students with all of those challenges in a fast-paced, high-energy transformative experience.

On a community basis, university communities have a silo problem—CS students do not talk to Design students, who do not talk to Business students, and so on. 3 Day Startup brings these groups together in a meaningful way—there is very little in the way of meet-and-greet and smalltalk. It’s amazing how testing a business model and building a prototype at 3:00 am after too many energy drinks can bring people together. This bond holds long after the weekend and helps keep the disparate student clubs, groups, and classes connected and supports the ecosystem as a whole.

What exactly does it bring to startups?

3 Day Startup kickstarts student startups and connects them to the resources they need in university communities. We want these fledgling startups to experience 3 months of progress in 3 days and we do it with great people (students, mentors, facilitators) and a great environment where execution is everything.

What type of startup would benefit from your group?

We view the university as an amazing platform for startups and we provide huge benefits to early-stage startups led by students. We also help connect different members of the university ecosystem from clubs and groups to incubators and accelerators to professors and companies in the local community.

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up the initiative?

Managing our growth and scale worldwide has been difficult. I am certain that some of the individuals and partners behind our program have found improvements on our model that we have yet to scale out to the entirety of our global community.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

1.      “Make something people want” (Paul Graham)

2.      “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.” (Yogi Berra)

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

The University of Texas, Austin Technology Incubator, IC2, Capital Factory, and the companies that have sponsored 3 Day Startup programs in Austin have all been critical to our success.