Got a Billion Dollar Idea? Seattle Central Launches Startup Business Class on Campus

By: Thomas Bonin

Pursuing it can change everything. An idea explodes. Venture capitalists tremble. Stock markets wobble in confusion. It’s the tech startup dream, and it’s now available at Seattle Central … as a class.

It’s called Student Startup Connector (SSC), and it has been galvanizing students and faculty at Seattle Central since its launch last spring. SCCC students can now earn school credit working for a startup. Pretty awesome, right?

Max Steinmetz and his team think so. They showcased their startup at this quarter’s SSC event on October 4th. Steinmetz is a Web Development student at SCCC.

The event, organized by Eva McGowan, IT student and President of the Byte Club at SCCC, lured more than fifty students. Seattle Central’s fourth-floor lecture hall was packed.  Four startup teams beguiled an enthralled crowd with magical inventions: a mobile app for tracking music concerts, an apparel e-store for smartphones, a project management app, and an Android game engine.

“We’re talking about MBA students from universities such as the University of Washington and Seattle University,” says McGowan. “Student Startup Connector connects these students with SCCC students who can help them.”

Pat Santos, the program’s founder, says connecting people is what the program is all about.

Pat Santos, founder of Student Startup Connector (SSC), explains how the program connects tech students with business student startups. The program launched on June 7, 2013, and showcases four new projects each quarter. The last showcase was here at SCCC on October 4, 2013.
Pat Santos, founder of Student Startup Connector (SSC), explains how the program connects tech students with business student startups. The program launched on June 7, 2013, and showcases four new projects each quarter. The last showcase was here at SCCC on October 4, 2013.

“You’re seeing the development of a community that tears down walls between app developers and business students,” explains Santos, Partner at Han Santos, PLLC.

As Santos explains, student startups were failing for two reasons. First, students didn’t know how to talk to companies. Second, business students with entrepreneurial ideas didn’t have a way to talk to developers interested in working for a startup. SCCC’s new startup program changes this.

“Student Startup Connector’s real success is that we’re breaking down these artificial obstacles,” Santos claims.

Of course, SSC is just one of many ways to score startup support in Seattle. Rick Planck, Founder and CEO of eSwing Golf Technologies, hired two interns directly from the University of Washington to develop his golf swing analysis product.

“I had guys work our Excel model, our trajectory model, and do some coding,” says Planck. One of the interns now works for the company as a Design Engineer.

Resources for students and professionals interested in startups are plentiful in Seattle. John Sechrest, project’s director for “Startup Weekend,” a monthly event that simulates the startup experience for aspiring businesses, says his top three are the Seattle Tech Calendar, Geekwire, and startupseattle.com.

Even with these options available, Student Startup Connector is still a tremendous value for students. Bill Newman, IT instructor at SCCC and SSC student advisor, is one of the program’s biggest advocates.

“Student Startup Connector is not about funding,” Bill says, “but about developing ideas and using the expertise of Pat Santos and his connections in the industry.” With Pat’s help, Bill explains, students “get useful feedback on the legality, tactical and viability aspects of the project idea for free.”

The program is a good opportunity for students for two reasons, Bill says. First, students profit immensely from the added expertise of seasoned professionals like Santos. Second, students gain real-world experience, mentoring, and connections that just aren’t available at school.

Students are missing out big time if they don’t grab at this opportunity, Bill says. “You cannot network higher than these guys.”
The next startup showcase will dazzle sometime in the first two weeks of winter quarter. Watch out for the event on the SSC web page at seattle2025.org or through the Seattle Central Byte Club website (byteclub.seattlecentralitprograms.com/).

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