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Startup Weekend Stories: Memories, reflections and lessons learned from Startup Weekend events in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa. 

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Chris pitching at Startup Weekend Iowa City

Today we meet Chris Ortman, a software developer by day and now a startup founder by night. Chris came to Startup Weekend Iowa City expecting to do some programming, but got inspired by an idea and ended up stretching his skills much farther: doing customer discovery, bringing together a team and setting them up to continue after the weekend. Sexy Life is still working, hoping to help ignite relationships with a monthly subscription box. Read on to learn how a “half baked” idea ended up winning the weekend and turned into a real business opportunity

What were your hopes and goals going into the weekend?

I went into the weekend just hoping to do some programming. I love the competitive nature of startup weekend and it can be a fun change to focus on building something that only has to last a weekend.

What was the most challenging part of the experience?

Customer discovery

Walking up to strangers on the street and asking them questions is difficult itself, but we chose to focus on a product geared at couples and focused on their relationship. This meant most of our questions were about someone’s relationship, so it was awkward squared.

How has the experience impacted you after the weekend?

I feel a lot better about my ability to do some of the non-programming related aspects of a business and have a better appreciation for how much work it is. Often times I think it’s easy to fall into this trap of envying people with success and better lifestyle. But you don’t see the failures and toil it takes to get there. Being able to experience it first hand for a small amount of time is a great way to decide if you are willing to do what it takes to get that lifestyle you envy.

Advice I would give to someone considering attending startup weekend:

There’s a million ideas out there. If all it took was a golden idea we’d all be millionaires. Being able to pick the right idea at the right time AND doing the work is what will lead you to success. So if nothing else just know that after your weekend you’ll have tools to help you separate the good ideas from the bad and an understanding of what it takes to make them real.

Even if you don’t go start a company you’ll be a more effective employee, volunteer, human.

Startup Weekend returns to Cedar Rapids March 4th – 6th at the Iowa Startup Accelerator in the Geonetric Building. We’re also excited to announce Sunday Demo Day Pitches will take place at Whipple Auditorium in the Cedar Rapids Public Library. Get your tickets today.

Brian Kerr