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You’re about to attend Startup Weekend: Smart City Edition. What will it be like? How do themed events work? You’ve read the schedule, but maybe you’re still unsure about what to expect. This guide is for you.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: Anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, UX/design, and market validation. The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for feedback and to win prizes. This event is focused exclusively on Smart City ideas.

Not sure what making a “Smart City” is all about?

Building a ‘Smart City’ is about using innovation, data, and technology to streamline transportation, reduce pollution, minimize energy use, cut costs of city living, and connect citizens. This is an exciting time for Columbus because the city is competing against 6 other cities around the nation for over $60 million in federal grants to fund initiatives in sustainable transportation, smart logistics, and access to jobs—learn more here! A ‘Smart City’ is a city built for the future.

Some categories to get you started:

– Transportation
– Infrastructure
– Internet Accessibility
– Sustainability
– City Planning
– Water
– Energy
– Urban Agriculture
– Waste/Recycling

OK, now that you’re up to speed on what types of ideas are able to be pitched, let me tell you how to best take advantage of the time you have.

1.) Come with an idea

Obviously this event is about building awesome ideas. Do some homework looking at the categories above and thinking of some ideas around them. If you bring an awesome idea and form a talented team, you will get the most out of the event and maybe even walk away with some prizes!

2.) If you don’t have a serious idea, pitch something – anything!

Startup Weekend provides you with the rare opportunity of an incredibly open, friendly environment for you to practice getting in front of a crowd. I don’t care if you’re pitching the next UBER or on-demand cat food delivery, it’s worth pitching. Take advantage of the opportunity!

3.) Be ready to join another team

We will have a lot of ideas pitched. Mathematically, it’s impossible for all ideas, or even the majority of ideas to be built with a team. Keep an open mind and listen to the other pitches – chances are good that you’ll be joining on with another team and idea.

4.) Select your team intentionally

I cannot understate this: your experience will be driven by your team. You will be working hard with these folks for 54 hours, and you want them to be open, fun, smart people. It’s almost impossible to completely know on Friday evening if you’re going to be best friends with someone, but it’s pretty easy to get a feeling if you won’t get along with someone. Even more important than the idea you work on is the team you work with.

5.) Bring your business cards

This event is not about selling your products or services, but you will almost certainly meet a whole host of people you want to follow up with after. You may form lifelong friendships – seriously. Bring your personal cards and expect some authentic, deep networking.

6.) Come early Saturday for yoga

We will have Josie Schweitzer of Thank Yoga providing a free 30-minute session at 9am on Saturday morning. Namaste!

7.) Bring an appetite

We will be feeding you seven full meals during the course of the weekend from a slew of local providers. Outside of that, we’ll have snacks and drinks throughout the weekend as well. You will be well fed, so enjoy it!

8.) Make some social media noise

Columbus is a finalist for the $40 million Smart City grant! An initiative seeking to create a model city that uses data, technology & creativity to shape how people and goods are transported, this opportunity will change the future of our community.

Our event is aligned with the city’s efforts, and we’d love to support them through the event as well. Take advantage of the below hashtags to help Columbus rise to the top!

#SWcbus
#SmartColumbus
#MoveColumbus
#DOTSmartCity

Are you convinced? Tickets for our next event, Smart City Edition, May 13-15 at Rev1 Ventures are still available! Click here to learn more and punch your ticket.

Jay Clouse