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Startup Weekend Austin
February 6th, 2015

People’s reactions waiting to grab the mic during Friday night pitches.

Last weekend’s installment of Startup Weekend Austin (AKA: #atxSW15) has taught us all a number of valuable lessons.  Attendees learned a great deal about the process of forming a team, brainstorming ideas, validating markets, building a business model canvas, and which coffee shops around town are indeed 24-hour.

From the organizing team’s perspective, we’re accustomed to observing, learning and supporting as the teams do their thing, so the fact that we all learned lots of new things shouldn’t be all that surprising.  However, this weekend was a little bit different.  To say that it was the highest caliber of Sunday night pitches we’ve ever seen only scratches the surface.  Organizers, mentors and judges all learned that Austin’s entrepreneur and developer community is not to be taken lightly.  The buzz around the Capital Factory all weekend revolved around the realization that these teams were all producing some of the best platforms, services and products that any of us had ever seen from such an event.

Here are some photos that highlight the intensity, collaboration, and great fun that we all shared in the 54 hours that were Startup Weekend Austin 2015:

J.D. Weinstein and Chris Gillan started things off by sharing their advice and experience with the group:

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Our fearless facilitator Kav walked teams through the process of pitching, and the weekend was off!
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The weekend seemed to fly by as teams worked as quickly as possible, building websites, validating markets, doing customer interviews (some teams even took to the streets of downtown Austin to do so), and anything else required of their newly found startup.  On Saturday afternoon, our fantastic team of coaches worked to mentor teams, who were eager to soak in any advice they could wring from folks with deep experience and entrepreneurial wisdom:

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The organizers had a particularly enjoyable time, helping teams find resources, coordinating coach arrivals and conversations, but mostly hanging out at Capital Factory swapping stories:

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Mostly, we had to remind folks how little time they had to do so much work.  “No talk, all action,” as they say.

But all good things have to come to an end at some point, and Sunday evening arrived in a whir of PowerPoints, Google presentations, Prezis and various other slidedecks demonstrate to the judges that it represented the best of the best. Our panel of judges geared up for 18 presentations, the most any of us had ever heard of for a Startup Weekend:

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Here are some photot highlights from the Sunday night presentations:

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The top three teams all barely edged out the competition after a tough deliberation by our judges.  The top three teams are as follows:

3rd Place — 21 Day!

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2nd Place — Knock Knock!

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And the first place team, Free Will!

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There you have it.  The weekend was a huge success and we all learned a great deal.  Ultimately, we hope that every team learned about the outstanding community that exists in Austin that supports radical ideas that can change the world.  We hope teams met a bunch of folks from the awesome community of individuals who make up the fabric of our great city who are more than willing to lend a hand, an ear or the ever-tantalizing email connection to “a good friend who will absolutely love what you are doing.”  Most of all, we hope that teams learned about how to “Start up!”  See you again real soon!

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A special thank you to the folks at RetailMeNot, without whom Startup Weekend Austin would not have been possible.  Also, thanks to Tito’s Handmade Vodka and TechMap for their generous donations.  Thanks always to Capital Factory for hosting us at their awesome downtown space!

Follow us on Twitter at @atxSW and follow ME on Twitter at @dearmrduffy


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Sean Duffy