Startup Weekend helps entrepreneurs launch new businessesWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
Aspiring entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to launch a company at the second Startup Weekend Toledo, Sept. 20-22 at the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex on the UT engineering campus.
“Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new businesses from the ground up over the course of a weekend,” said Lindsey Danforth, lead organizer of the local event this year.
“A key facet of the weekend — and a central value for participants — is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in and ownership,” she said.
Attendees will pitch their ideas; form teams to develop a business model, product prototype and designs; present their work and win prizes to help establish the emerging startup business.
Teams form around the popular ideas as determined by vote followed by a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing and market validation. People choose what topic or team to join. The weekend culminates with presentations before local entrepreneurial leaders offering critical feedback.
Concept pitching and team building will take place on Friday. Teams will form around concepts and various skills that are brought to the table, leaving the remainder of the weekend for mind mapping, strategizing and building a real business, Danforth explained.
On Sunday night, the new business ideas will be pitched to a panel of judges and the winning team will receive a “Two-hour IP Brainstorming Session” and a two-month part-time membership to Seed Coworking space, with other possible prizes to be added.
Startup Weekend attracts the community’s best doers and makers. Knowledgeable and successful entrepreneurs are there to inspire, share and mentor the teams throughout the weekend, Danforth said.
Participants also receive invaluable one-on-one time with the movers and shakers within the community, as local tech and startup leaders take part in Startup Weekends as coaches and judges.
Some of the people lined up for this year include Gene Powell of Seed Co-working, StartUp Toledo and Spoke; Erika Carlson from Girl Develop It Detroit; Bill Sattler of local graphic design agency Madhouse; Kristin Kiser, owner of Black Kite Coffee; and Joe Gough of Rocket Ventures.
By spending a weekend working to build scalable companies, participants can build long-lasting relationships and possibly walk away with a new business, job or even an investor in the startup business, Danforth said.
“We had a great mix of ideas from fitness apps to crowd-funding urban renewal to a smoothie truck,” Danforth said about the first Startup Weekend Toledo held last year.
In 2012, they had four people go through Startup Weekend and go on to build a new business and get funding from Rocket Ventures. Two participants won money at the Northwest Ohio Business Plan Competition last year, she said.
However, development of the winning startup last year, a physical fitness app called Fueled, has been put on hold temporarily because the principals are working other full-time jobs, according to Steve Plummer, who originated the idea for the business.
Aaron Harwell sought out mentors to help him finish an idea for a photo booth/app business called Twine.It. He met people at Startup Weekend who helped him get some early-stage funding from Rocket Ventures and also worked with UT Innovation Enterprises.
Zachary Kraner was inspired at Startup Weekend last year and later launched his own company called Intrinsic Made. The business creates and sells apparel and accessories that are affordable and wearable works of art.
Intrinsic Made offers handmade infinity scarves, stylish sunglasses that come in a handmade bag, and a variety of T-shirts at its store at www.intrinsic made.storenvy.com. The store is powered by Storenvy, an online store system and marketplace for creative businesses.
“Startup Weekend showed me that you don’t have to sit around and wait for something good to come along. With a good idea, good people and lots of hustle, you can make things happen,” Kraner said about his experience last year. “It encouraged me and gave me the extra push to pursue my idea.”
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. Based in Seattle, the nonprofit organization has facilitators in more than 200 cities in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America with more than 400 events in 100 countries since 2011.
More than 36 percent of Startup Weekend startups are still active. About 80 percent of the participants plan to continue working with their team or startup after each weekend event, according to the organization.
To obtain more information or register for Startup Weekend Toledo.
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