Startup Weekend set for entrepreneurs, tech industryWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Startup Weekend Toledo, a first-time local event for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners will take place Sept. 14-16 at the College of Business and Innovation at the University of Toledo.
Startup Weekend Toledo is an intense 54-hour event where entrepreneurs, business startup enthusiasts, software and Web developers, marketing gurus and anyone interested in building a business come together over the weekend to share ideas, form teams and launch a startup.
This event is billed as “No talk, all action — launch a startup business in 54 hours,” according to Lindsey Danforth, lead organizer.
“For too long, we have focused on manufacturing in this town and ignored all the tech-savvy, forward thinkers that were just waiting for the environment to become friendlier toward tech,” Danforth said.
“These events have been gaining momentum across the U.S. and around the world. They have produced a lot of cutting-edge companies in the tech industry. There’s no reason why we can’t produce them in Toledo,” she said.
Danforth reported that there has been a quiet movement in the area’s tech industry, starting about a year ago with the formation of groups such as Startup Toledo, Tech Toledo, Toledo Web Professionals and regional organizations.
The movement has been building that Toledo has serious talent but needs a bridge to connect the various players in the community, Danforth said.
“We will continue to support entrepreneurs and the tech industry here,” she said.
Danforth does not have her own company, but said, “I come from a long line of entrepreneurs so it’s in my blood.”
Toledo has seen the recent formation of some interesting startups such as Beyond Gaming, Buyvite, Givt and Magnate Interactive.
Danforth said the Toledo area even has some tech celebrities who will be speakers at Startup Weekend. Matt Braun, founder of Magnate Interactive, developed an application that has more than 4 million downloads. Ten-year-old Jonathan Buchanan of Perrysburg has made a name for himself as the youngest person to create an application available for sale in the app store.
Buyvite and Givt are recent recipients of early stage funding from Rocket Ventures, LLC, an angel investment and venture capital firm that is a joint venture of the Regional Growth Partnership and UT Innovation Enterprises.
Rocket Ventures and UT Innovation Enterprises have played a major role in supporting entrepreneurs with funding and startup services, according to Danforth. Rocket Ventures will provide a free consultation to the winning startup at Startup Weekend.
Buyvite is an early-stage group payment platform that allows friends or relatives to group pay inside any e-commerce. Givt is a social gifting app that makes it much easier to give gift cards to Facebook friends.
Brandy Alexander-Wimberly, founder and CEO of Buyvite, and Justin Blanchard, founder and CEO of Givt, will serve as coaches for teams at Startup Weekend. Other coaches include Gene Powell of Spoke and Steve Schwartz of Alfa Jango.
Organizers and volunteers have been working to ensure that Startup Weekend provides not only the inspiration but also all the resources required for building and launching a viable, scalable company.
Knowledgeable and successful entrepreneurs will participate as coaches and speakers to inspire, share information and mentor teams throughout the weekend.
Educators of entrepreneurship from Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo are supporting the event and serving as judges. Gene Poor, chairman of the Board for Life Formations, teaches future entrepreneurs as the Hamilton Professor of Entrepreneurship at BGSU. Sonny Ariss, chairman of the Department of Management, is a fellow of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology Commercialization at UT.
Business concept pitching and team building will occur on Sept. 14. Teams will be formed around concepts and various related skills. The rest of the weekend will be used for mind mapping, strategizing and building a real business.
The new business ideas will be pitched to a panel of judges on Sept. 16 with a winner to be selected and announced. The winning team will receive a two-hour brainstorming session with Rocket Ventures and a two-month, part-time membership to Seed Coworking.
Seed Coworking is another new venture in Toledo that offers a community atmosphere and workspace for tech entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals who may be working at home or out of a coffee shop.
The organizers of the first local Startup Weekend are holding a free pre-event mixer for attendees and anyone interested in learning more Sept. 6 from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. at Seed Coworking on South St. Clair Street in downtown Toledo.
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. The nonprofit organization based in Seattle can be found in more than 200 cities around the world with more than 400 events in 100 countries in 2011.
Tickets for the event are $50 per person and $35 for students. For information about the local Weekend Startup events, visit www.toledo.startupweekend.org.