University of Illinois

February 15 – 17, 2019


Tackling social and environmental problems is challenging. Students who want to make an impact can have trouble knowing where to get started, finding teammates with similar passions, and building on existing efforts to innovate and scale impact in the social sector. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset can be beneficial to anyone interested in making a positive social or environmental impact! 

3 Day Startup is a 72-hour learning-by-doing campus workshop that teaches entrepreneurial skills to university students in an extreme hands-on environment.

  • Get inspired about innovative ways to tackle social and environmental problems

  • Learn practical entrepreneurial skills that can be used to make a positive impact in the community

  • Network with students across campus to find diverse teammates to pursue social ventures

  • Build connections with the Illinois Entrepreneurship Ecosystem to support social impact work

Join us for the 3DS Info session

What?: Learn about what to expect at a 3 Day Startup program and how you can maximize the 3DS experience. No sign up required. Just show up!

When?: Monday, January 28 @ 6:30PM

Where?: 240 Wohlers Hall



Orientation (1-2 weeks before program date): Participating students meet, get introduced to key entrepreneurship principles for social impact, and learn best practices for maximizing the 3 Day Startup program experience.

Day 1: Participants arrive – with or without social impact ideas – and a facilitator leads the group through dedicated brainstorming, preliminary pitches/feedback, team selection, and the mission model canvas. Some teams work late into the night and others prefer to rest up in preparation for day 2.

Day 2: Teams focus on beneficiary/stakeholder discovery (where they hit the streets or the phones to talk to potential beneficiaries or stakeholders of a social impact venture), rapid prototyping, intermediate pitches, and feedback sessions with structured mentorship. Day 2 places heavy emphasis on mission model generation.

Day 3: Continued execution (including pitch workshops) leading into final pitches/demos to an esteemed panel of mentors, community leaders, and impact investors.

Application Deadline EXTENDED

Tuesday, February 5 @ 11:59pm

The program is free but you must apply to get in. 3DS is open to grad and undergrad students of all years, majors, and experience levels. Admissions are rolling, so please apply ASAP to increase your chances of participating.

Fill out my online form.



What does the weekend look like? You and your fellow students will have the opportunity to start a social impact venture over the course of three days. We invite approximately 40-50 students with a wide range of backgrounds to participate in structured activities in a dynamic work space with skilled facilitators and mentors. Food and beverages will be provided throughout the program. Participants will gain everything needed to move through the stages of concept ideation, idea selection, and stakeholder discovery/validation to create a “minimum viable product” (e.g., program, service, product) to present to an esteemed panel of mentors, community leaders, and impact investors. By the end of the program, you should have the skills, motivation, and network to move forward with your social venture and will be well positioned to benefit from additional programs and resources that are available in the Illinois Entrepreneurship Ecosystem to support social impact work.

If I participate, what do I get out of the weekend? The worst case scenario is that you will learn entrepreneurship skills and work with talented and motivated people from numerous disciplines toward the common goal of building real social ventures that add value to society. Great connections happen at 3 Day Startup: cofounders meet, complementary skill sets collide, and friends are made. The best case scenario is that you will become a cofounder of a wildly successful new social purpose startup.

I’m not a business major. Should I even consider applying? Yes! Past 3DS participants span from first year students to PhD candidates with backgrounds ranging from English to Engineering. Everyone is welcome and diverse experiences, disciplines, and insights are valued. If you are passionate about making the world a better place and are curious to learn more about startups in the social sector, the 3DS program will serve as a helpful catalyst in your change-maker journey. And you’ll have a lot of fun along the way!

What kind of ideas are allowed? This 3DS program is focused on social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Ideas should focus on value creation and scalability related to tackling genuine social or environmental problems, especially problems which disproportionately affect people who are most marginalized in society. Although the emphasis of this program is on social venture creation, the entrepreneurship skills you learn will be transferrable across all domains–leveraged non-profits, hybrid social enterprises, social businesses, B-Corps, and for-profit startups.

What about food? 3DS caters all meals, drinks, coffee and in-between snacks. Bring a water bottle though!

What is your rate of success? First of all, check out some of the companies that have been started by graduates of 3 Day Startup here. Our metrics for success include student learning outcomes and how many of our alumni found companies that take investment, generate revenue or enter incubators. Per program, 3 Day Startup results in more successful startups than any other weekend entrepreneurship event. We have run 400+ programs in the US and internationally, and those have given rise to hundreds of companies that have cumulatively received over $160 million in funding. 38 companies from 3DS have been accepted to accelerators such as Y Combinator, Tech Stars, 500 Startups, Capital Factory, Austin Technology Incubator and Dreamit Ventures. On average, each 3 Day Startup program–in both mature and nascent university entrepreneurship ecosystems–generate at least one successful startup.









For questions about the University of Illinois program or sponsorship inquiries, please email the Lead Organizer, Valeri Werpetinski at werpetin@illinois.edu

About Us

3 Day Startup’s mission is to kickstart new student-run companies and build entrepreneurial capabilities in students and their university communities. Learn More

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