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Starting A New Business Overnight--Literally

Ryan Loyd
TPR News
Rohit Saxena, left, works with his group at the start of 3DS San Antonio, or Three Day Start-up.

Forty people in downtown San Antonio are camping out at Geekdom this weekend in an exercise called "3DS," or three day start-up.

Starting Friday and running through Sunday night, members are broken up into teams and assigned to come up with ideas for a business.

Cristal Glangchai runs 3DS San Antonio, and is also the creator of the entrepreneurship academy Venture Lab. The 3DS concept originally began in Austin but came to the Alamo City in 2010. 

For many, sleep will not be an option this weekend.

"We give them lots of Red Bull, lots of Nerf guns," she said, smiling. "It's hard work, hard play. Usually we end up with five companies coming out of the weekend and they pitch to a panel of investors at the end of the night."

Each of the seven teams comes up with two ideas that will be narrowed to five finalists. On Saturday, the teams will be kicked out of the building to conduct market research to see if their ideas will work in the real world.

"If they don't have anything by Saturday night we have to kill their idea and [assign them] to another team or switch to something else," said Glangchai.

The situation is fluid. Team members don't have to stay on the same teams. They are allowed to switch if they like another team or idea better.

Alfred Mesquiti participated in 3DS last year.

"You know, it changes a bit over the weekend," Mesquiti said. "At the beginning, everyone's really excited. You meet people who are really excited, really pumped, really ready to spread their ideas if they have something."

Rohit Saxena, a UTSA sophomore and engineering major's idea is a radio frequency ID chip for moving boxes.

"When you're moving...it would help you know what's in your boxes," he said. "Often you find yourself at the end of moving, there's all these boxes that you don't want to unpack and it would be useful if you knew what was in them."

Glangchai says ten companies have started over the last three years that 3DS San Antonio has been around, generating $2.3 million from investors to get their businesses off the ground.

Participants here are hoping to add to that list.

But even if they don't, Glangchai says the bottom line is education.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.