Aspiring student entrepreneurs from schools in Boston convened at the “Red Bull Basement — Entrepreneurship in Boston” event on Saturday, Oct.16, including Boston University students.
The event, held at a lululemon wellness space on Newbury Street, featured Taylor Grant — founder and general partner of Cedar Capital and an early-stage investor — as the keynote speaker. Students from colleges like Bentley University, Northeastern University and BU then had the opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas and receive feedback from Grant.
Red Bull Basement will then host a global pitch competition, the “climax” of the innovation workshop, their website said, as well as local events that aim to educate, inspire and connect student entrepreneurs.
BU College of Art and Sciences senior David Joseph said he leads the BU team of Red Bull Student Marketeers and collaborates with Red Bull to organize student-oriented programming.
In an interview after the event, he said Red Bull wanted the event to be an “entry-level gateway, fun experience” for all participants.
“We wanted people who had an idea and didn’t exactly know how to … really cultivate an idea and turn it into a project or passion,” he said. “We wanted to provide them both the opportunity to get help on that and the chance to win some money and some resources to further that cause.”
Having invested in over 200 companies, Grant spoke in his address about different types of investors and investments, and what makes a good entrepreneurial pitch.
“When you are a founder that’s really, really early [in the process], you have to show some sort of identity because … whoever you’re talking to has to understand why you’re here, why are you making this product and why should I care,” he said. “Identity takes a really long time to build, but you can start to show signs of identity as early as your first day in business.”
Grant also acknowledged the volatility in the startup world.
“When you’re starting to see some positive things happen, negative [things] can happen literally the next day,” he said. “It really is a roller coaster all the time, and that’s any business in any sector … That was the hardest lesson to learn.”
BU College of Engineering freshmen Anvitha Nekkanti and Delaney Pendleton attended the event and pitched their idea to the audience after hearing about the event from the BU Entrepreneur’s Club email list.
The pair’s pitch is a compact and wearable device that aims to alleviate pain from menstruation through electrical pulse stimulation and heat therapy. Through an app, users can choose between the two modes and specific areas to target. The app will also allow users to track their cycles, set reminders for birth control and discover meditation and exercises to further minimize pain.
“Our main motivation for doing this was because we felt like there weren’t any devices on the market … to help with menstrual pain that were discrete … but were also accessible, like weren’t super expensive,” Nekkanti said in an interview.
She said Grant helped her and Pendleton workshop their idea and learn more about entrepreneurship in general.
“It gave us a lot of valuable advice for how to pitch an idea, and kind of the process but you have to go through if you want to start a startup where you have an idea,” Nekkanti said.
Joseph also said to take networking “as slow or as fast as you want,” something he hoped the Red Bull event bolstered.
“We hope and aim to just bring these people together,” Joseph said. “We can’t necessarily provide you a guaranteed network, but what we can do is say, ‘Hey Red Bull’s a calling card for whoever wants to come to it,’ you’ll meet the people who are also attracted by a similar thing.”