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By Irene Monokandilos

Startup Weekend Tampa is a fifty-four-hour event for developers, designers, enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs pursuing an encouraging space to hack their latest, and sometimes oldest, ideas. But, as we know well at Startup Weekend Tampa, starting can often be the most formidable opponent to any endeavor, and finding an empowering environment to grow our ideas is no easy task. Your community is here to help. At the heart of our event are community sponsors, local businesses whose aid allows Startup Weekend Tampa to offer unmitigated access to a number of venerable mentors, a slew of potential consumers, talented collaborators, curated coaching and esteemed judges to help you dive in, develop and seek validation for your startup.

We understand that this high-energy weekend can seem as daunting as it seems exhilarating, so our team reached out to former Startup Weekend Tampa participant, Rish, to share his experience and speak to why Startup Weekend Tampa is the place for you this November 11-13. Rish attended Startup Weekend after years of toying with new ideas, with marginal knowledge about marketing or how to approach obtaining validation – a developer with an impassioned idea: a passwordless authentication system for all of your internet needs.

With little to no knowledge of what Startup Weekend could do for him, Rish took a leap of faith after a simple google search. On the first night of the weekend, Rish chose a place among developers, designers, and hustlers (motivated non-technical participants from an array of backgrounds), then pitched his idea to a room of like-minded, equally zealous individuals in only sixty seconds. The best eight pitches would proceed to form teams, developing their startups over the weekend. Rish gained little traction, his pitch for a login with no username or password received only four votes – an outcome he attributes to not actively seeking out support from peers. Undeterred by the events of Friday night, Rish quickly pocketed the first of many lessons: the importance of being a go-getter when it comes to obtaining validation.

Rish returned the next morning, with no team, to a room of welcoming volunteers who recognized his determination and sought to elevate him to success after seeing his prototype. With the help of the invested volunteers at Startup Weekend, Rish borrowed diverse talent from every team and utilized the resources available to him to develop his business over the course of the next day. On Sunday night, Rish pitched his business to the crowd, and a panel of judges, in just five minutes. After the event, volunteers encouraged Rish to join the after party to celebrate the weekend’s work and discuss his plan with judges and mentors who believed in his business, including Greg Ross-Munro of Sourcetoad, the premiere custom app development shop out of Tampa. Rish followed this advice, and in the after party space created a lasting connection with Greg. Under Greg’s mentorship, Rish’s startup flourished well beyond Startup Weekend. SuperAuth, “the world’s first truly passwordless authentication system,” is gaining traction and achieving success daily.

With the resources made available to him during Startup Weekend, including sponsors and mentors like Greg, Rish not only grew his business plan and prototype but learned how to pitch to both potential consumers and sponsors. Rish “talked like a developer on Friday, and like a businessman on Sunday.” His experience is an example of how all of Startup Weekend’s moving parts – its volunteers, sponsors, mentors, and judges – are deeply committed to helping participants at all times. Like Rish, no matter where you are in the process on Friday night, you will leave Startup Weekend prepared to take the next steps on your personal road to success having met mentors, collaborators, and supporters along the way.  If you have an idea, a skill, or even an inkling of startup enthusiasm, join us at Ybor City’s Cuban Club this November for an experience that, in Rish’s words, will “change everything.”  

Trey Steinhoff