This Challenge Actually Helps Students Become Entrepreneurs

Next University Mobile ChallengeThere are two stories we hear about college these days:

Get into a good school, graduate, get a good job.

OR, in most startup circles, don’t. In the startup world, we usually idolize the founders who drop out of or skip college and build huge companies.

There are plenty of schools and organizations that understand this. There’s an increase in entrepreneurial degrees available these days, and there are lots of opportunities for college students to flex their entrepreneur muscles before graduation.

One of those programs is the Next University Mobile Challenge, presented by the Applied Innovation Institute. The organization will select 12 teams from a variety of applicants to compete in the global competition at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.

Student teams from around the world are challenged to come up with an innovative idea to solve a real problem. The idea can be a business concept or a tech idea and can be aimed at any market. Past teams have figured out how to use mobile tech to get water to villages in India, locate cell phone owners in an earthquake, and predict premature delivery 2 weeks earlier than currently possible.

So, that’s real.

Teams from any school can apply, but if there are two teams at one school, there needs to be some kind of qualifying round to determine the best entrant. In the past, the Next University Mobile Challenge has had participation from schools like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Cambridge, Oxford, and UC Berkeley.

Chosen teams receive training in pitching and branding their products and technology. They also receive a stipend to cover travel and attendance at the Mobile World Congress.

It’s easy to put things into a black and white worldview: college is completely bad or college is completely good.

But the truth is that college–like everything else–is what you make of it, and competitions like the Next University Mobile Challenge are a great way for students to glean real world experience while also attending school.

Got an idea for the Next University Mobile Challenge? Register your intent to enter here by January 1. Your actual idea will be due to the judges by January 31.


Providence Startup: JumpOffCampus Connects Students To Off Campus Housing

JumpOffCampus is a Massachusetts startup designed to connect college students and landlords with off campus properties. While it’s a useful service for students, it’s just as useful for landlords who are looking to rent rooms, and apartments to students.

The startup was developed after two friends Mark Abramowicz and Kyle Nichols-Schmolze struggled with finding a good place to live off campus while they were attending Tufts University. There was a lack of resources to find good housing. If you’ve been a college student then you are well aware of the problems with signs on the side of the road and posted on bulletin boards. Come August all the places are rented and everyone forgets to take their signs down.

Out of this need Abramowicz and Nichols-Schmolze became co-founders of JumpOffCampus. Their goal is to solve the off campus housing issue faced by every student in the US.

We got a chance to talk with Abramowicz about JumpOffCampus.

Briefly tell us what JumpOffCampus is.

JumpOffCampus is an online resource for university students, facilitating their off-campus housing search. In addition to a map-based apartment search, we also have added functionality like the ability to share progress with friends and family, as well as a roommate finder, marketplace, and the ability to post and search for sublets.

How did you come up with the idea, are their other founders involved?

The idea for JumpOffCampus was born out of a general frustration with the process of finding an apartment while we were sophomores at Tufts University. We couldn’t believe that there was no resource and so we sought to make one, using our own experiences – and those of our friends – as inspiration.

More after the break
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