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“We can build everything and put the pieces in place for an entrepreneurial community, but it’s up to you, the entrepreneurs, to make it go.”

At the end of a long Global Entrepreneurship Week, Albuquerque Economic Development Director Gary Oppedahl spoke a bit softer than his usual self, but with no less conviction.

As a constant and vocal champion for entrepreneurs, Oppedahl is a presence at nearly every startup event in the metro area, along with Eric Renz-Whitmore, one of main organizers of Startup Weekend Albuquerque.

The 54-hour marathon of brainstorming, research, customer development, and pitching was kicked off last night with short and sweet speeches from both Oppedahl and Renz-Whitmore, along with a few words from locally grown entrepreneurs Travis Kellerman and Amanda Solosky.

Kellerman talked about working across teams and disciplines, and a recent dive into managing the product / project process and coding. Solosky, one of the co-founders of Rival Theory — an artificial intelligence startup built entirely by University of New Mexico graduates —mentioned the difficulty of multiple pivots and the constant iterative process.

sweekend 2“You never stop learning,” she said, and grinned wryly while describing how even after successfully launching a product, making money, and going through the Techstars program, her team still faces constant new challenges. “The thing I noticed,” she said, “is that even founders of multi-million dollar companies sometimes don’t know 100% what they are doing.”

The Kaufman Foundation’s Jon Robinson spoke for a couple of minutes as well, calling Albuquerque one of the most promising places he’s seen for entrepreneurship. “Albuquerque is a great place to start a company,” he said, and noted that the low cost of living and access to creative thinking are both competitive advantages that the city has in large amounts.

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With introductions out of the way, Startup Weekend facilitator Alexandra Ximenez loosened up the crowd of 50 or so people with a 5 minute exercise called Half Baked, where attendees had to pair random words into a product name and explain how the product worked and what problem it solved.

 

After hearing about companies / products like “Opposable Sausages,” “Cold Coffee,” and “Automagical Symphony,” the room quickly relaxed, and Ximenez then ran through what to expect for the weekend…including pitching ideas, forming a team, market research, and customer development.

Once groups were formed, ideas voted on, and everyone was ready to go, teams hunkered down to plan for the next couple of days.

Among the ideas making it to the weekend:

* An educational platform based on lean startup and human centered design principles

* A BBQ food truck / food stand with Albuquerque’s best ribs

* Bootcamp / program for companies & products that successfully launch from Startup Weekend and still want / need, quick intensive iteration sprints

* An online role playing game that connects people in a 25 mile square radius

* A customer focused app that allows food trucks and stands to alert people when their food is ready, and streamline the ordering process

About Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is a 3-day event where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs meet up to brainstorm, plan a product/service or business idea, and build out a first model / prototype.

The event takes place at the CNM STEMulus center in Downtown Albuquerque, November 21–23, 2014

Follow Startup Weekend Albuquerque on Twitter via the #swabq hashtag, or keep tabs on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Joe Cardillo