Campus 1871: A Young Entrepreneur’s Dream Weekend


On Friday, April 8th I attended Campus 1871, a weekend-long hackathon event. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I found out about the event when my professor sent a class email encouraging the class to apply. A few weeks later, I was accepted. 

The event brought together students from six universities in Illinois to brainstorm, create, and pitch a startup to the 1871 entrepreneur geniuses. 1871 provided food and hotel rooms for each student. For those of you who aren’t familiar with 1871, it’s often described as the Silicon Valley of Chicago.

Essentially, 1871 offers innovative office space for startup companies. Instead of paying high prices for offices in the city, entrepreneurs and their teams are able to rent out space at 1871. But 1871 is much more than that. This became clear to me throughout the weekend.

It was inspiring to see such young people taking their ambitions seriously. Most of the students I met have been working on their own startup ideas long before Campus 1871.

So, what exactly do students learn at Campus 1871?

•I learned that diversity is essential in making a company stronger

I was part of a group in which our majors ranged from mechanical engineering to social sciences and education. As the only public relations and advertising major on the team, I was able to brainstorm ways our idea could gain exposure through different mediums.

Our team came up with a mobile application called n.vsn that allows high-school students to watch “Buzzfeed” type videos that teach them the relevance of what they’re learning inside the classroom. Say, for example, a student is having trouble understanding supply and demand. That student would get a video describing how supply and demand drive the insane prices for Kanye West’s Yeezy shoe-line.

A prototype of our application, including the Yeezy supply and demand example.
A prototype of our application

Our team went through various stages of our product, before finalizing it. We eventually ended up incorporating virtual reality to the videos, in order to differentiate our product from our competitors.

If we all shared similar interests and courses, our product wouldn’t have evolved. The unique contributions each group member offered only improved our product.

•The mentors at Campus 1871 taught me how to develop a stellar pitch to key project influencers

n.vsn Our Campus 1871 Product
The opening slide in our presentation for our product, n.vsn

I also heard from a few keynote speakers that presented in what resembled a TED Talk. Their presentations made me more aware of my own public speaking and how powerpoint presentations make a significant impact to the overall message.

•Most importantly, Campus 1871 taught me that you’re never too young to take yourself seriously and work on your career goals

If you’re confident and passionate about your project(s), people will be willing to listen to your ideas and give you feedback.

Campus 1871 Pitches
That’s me on the left-end listening to other group’s pitches

Have you ever been to a hackathon event? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments down below.

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