LC Bulletin: Starting strong

July 12, 2013. Retrieved online July 15, 2013 from Alta LeCompte, Las Cruces Bulletin

MBA student wins top prize at Startup Weekend

Several weeks after taking first place at New Mexico’s Startup Weekend competition in Albuquerque, New Mexico State University graduate student Brian Mangusing said the experience is “still surreal.”

At Startup Weekend − a frenzied 54 hours − would-be entrepreneurs took their ideas from pitch to polished pre­sentation. They received peer feedback on their pitches and then voted on the top ideas. Teams formed to bring the highest-rated proposals through the pro­cess of creating a business model, coding, designing and doing market validation. More feedback and judging followed.

Mangusing’s idea was to market a Lego-based science and technol­ogy curriculum previously dreamed up by engineer Yu-Ping Tang of the Controls and Automation Lab at NMSU’s Manufacturing Technology Center.

His winning pitch for a curriculum plan using Tang’s Lego Lab teaching con­cept brought him a $1,000 prize to invest in his company, Crimson Curriculum. In addition, he received office space, Internet service and other business basics.

Although his new office is in Albuquerque and Mangusing is based in Las Cruces, he plans to make use of the space. He foresees holding project team meetings and other functions there.

“First place at Startup Weekend comes with some very cool rewards,” he said. “It’s much more professional to bring people to your office than to a hotel room.”

Teamwork builds a winning experience

He said the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse, dynamic team that came together at Startup Weekend was a great experience that yielded concrete results.

Web developers shared their exper­tise, as did a CPA “who helped me flesh out my numbers.”

“One of the coolest things was we developed to concept of how to deliver the product in a digitized format,” he said. “We developed a rough idea for an app.”

Thanks to the work Mangusing has done at Arrowhead Center for the past two years, he had a head start on the competition in Albuquerque.

“My actual background is in biology and I have a master’s in biological technology,” he said. “I’ve only recently enrolled in the MBA program. That I was able to successfully compete against MBA entrepreneurs is a testament to what we do at Arrowhead.”

Mangusing said he “ran into” the project at NMSU’s Arrowhead Center when he became a technology commercialization associate in summer 2011.

“This was the first project I had an opportunity to work on,” he said. “Our job is to take a university innovation and bring it to market by licensing or possibly doing a startup.”

Commercialization begins at Arrowhead

Mangusing said he liked Tang’s idea from the very beginning.

“I was absolutely blown away when I went to Lego Lab,” he said. ”They have a whole car manufacturing plant.”

Touring school groups and their teachers also loved the lab.

The “hard product” Mangusing is developing is the curriculum to guide teachers in using Lego Lab kits for instructional purposes.

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