What to expect at Startup Weekend Mansfield

Startup Weekend is coming to Mansfield for the very first time. As your dedicated organizers, we’ve been busy organizing what we hope will be a wonderful and exciting event for everyone involved. Given that we’re so focused on making this a great weekend for all those participating, we want to make sure that you know exactly what to expect from this energetic weekend. First, the logistics.


Participants arrive between 5 and 7 PM on Friday and begin networking while having dinner. After a brief ice-breaker game and a brief introduction by the Facilitator, Dan Manges, a local entrepreneur and CTO of Root Insurance, will share his story of entrepreneurship.

Then the pitching begins! Anyone that wants to pitch will have 60 seconds to give it their best try. No presentations or props needed here; just you and a mic. After pitches are finished, all participants will vote on their favorites and these votes will be used to select the top ideas to be worked on over the weekend. If your peers like your idea, great!

Some ideas will survive the vote, others won’t. People organically form teams around their favorite ideas (usually around 6-8 per team)  and get down to business until the end of the evening.

Remember, we will provide you with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the entire weekend!

Teams will work all day on Saturday with the occasional breaks to eat, do a quick group check-in on everyone’s progress, and listen to a short talk from Marquise Stillwell, founder of Openbox. We’ll have mentors walking around to provide advice in the field of their expertise for any team that needs or wants it.

Sunday is crunch day! Teams will work uninterrupted from morning until mid-afternoon. They’ll begin wrapping up their product/prototype and presentation around 3-4 PM so that there’s time remaining to do check if their technology works and rehearse their final pitches. Final pitches to the judges usually start around 5 PM. Each team typically has 5 minutes to present plus 2-3 minutes Q&A from the judges. The judges will select the top teams, give out prizes, and the event ends (and celebration begins!)

Startup Weekend is going to be a lot of hard work but, above all, it’s going to be an extremely fun weekend. We’re doing this for you. We want you to know that there is a space where you are positively encouraged and supported to work on those ideas that have always been brooding in the back of your mind. We want this to be a memorable experience for you so that you keep going to Startup events here in Mansfield or elsewhere in the country. Because at the end of the day, what’s work without play?

What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?

On Sunday, the judges will use the following criteria to judge your idea:

  • Customer Validation (Have you done customer research for your idea?)
  • Execution and Design (What did you build? Do you have a minimum viable product?)
  • Business Model (Do you have a plan for the future?)

It’s most important that you have some sort of a minimum viable product (prototype) to present to the judges. Regarding presenting, here are examples of the most common presentations:

  • Wireframes or fully developed website
  • Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons to fully functional)
  • Slide decks (Powerpoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.)
  • Videos (i.e. product demonstrations, etc.)
  • Live product demos

That said, this doesn’t mean that your idea must be a tech idea. All business ideas are eligible, whether for-profit, ‘social’ enterprises, nonprofit organizations, etc. We don’t want to place restrictions on the types of ideas you present at Startup Weekend. We just strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a tech-related deliverable (i.e., website, app) by Sunday.

An open space for learning

Please don’t leave just because your idea wasn’t picked on Friday! You can always join another team and work on a different idea! This weekend isn’t about proving that your idea is better than everybody else’s idea. This weekend is all about learning.

Learning how to use an entrepreneurial mindset to find a problem and bring it from thought to a reality. Learning how to think through problems with the build-measure-learn feedback loop, which is a process in which you make something that you think solves a problem, gather feedback from customers, learn from this feedback, and change your product accordingly. It’s simple; your customers tell you what they want, and you make the product so that it’s exactly how they want it.

At the end of the day, what you can really expect from Startup Weekend is an open space where every idea gets a chance to be heard. This is not a place where only billion-dollar tech ideas get a voice. We want Startup Weekend Mansfield to be a place where every idea from every industry and every solution to every problem is represented.

Because at the end of the day, that’s all we really want. To be represented.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions for more information!

Worried about being judged?

Well here is the rundown of what the judges are looking for.

  1. Business Model
    • How will your business be successful?
    • What problem does your idea solve?
    • Who is your competition? How do you compete with them?
    • Have you considered how you can scale your business, get customers, make money?  
  2. Customer Validation
    • Will people want this idea/product?
    • Do you understand what customers need?
    • Did you talk to potential customers?
  3. Execution and Design
    • Have you created some sort of product/or mock up over the course of the weekend (hardware, software, etc.)?
    • Is your product user friendly?
    • Are you able to show your product is functional?

Get ready for the competition!  #SWMU18 is right around the corner so come excited and ready to create!

What if I don’t have a good business idea?

Don’t worry! Don’t discount your business idea if you have one, you can pitch it to us Friday night. If you don’t have a business idea, or one you want to develop, we need you just as much as those with big ideas! We need people who are great teammates, communicators and students with a variety of skills such as programmers, designers, engineers etc.


Tips for pitching:

  • Keep it short (60 seconds)
  • Make it easy for others to understand
    • This will help ensure that your potential team members fully understand what the idea is
  • Explain the problem you are solving with your idea
  • Be personable and approachable


#SWMU18 is quickly approaching! If you haven’t already signed up, do so now and be a part of this amazing experience.

Blog Post Content

Why Startups Fail

Watch this video (link is below) to understand why startups fail. It often is not the product. As you listen envision the business model canvas. Entrepreneurs must test assumptions. Which ones do they seem to miss?

Also note the concept of time. Time is a valuable resource for an entrepreneur and if misused can compromise startup success. 

As you consider time and testing assumptions think about the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial teams. They will be important to demonstrate in this course.

The video discusses what investors look for and what customers look for. Consider what each seeks and why and how they are similar.

Watch the first 8:50 of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouHDNBT_leg&feature=youtu.be (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Business Model Definitions

Customer Segments – also known as market segments:

An identifiable group of individuals, families, businesses, or organizations, sharing one or more characteristics or needs in an otherwise homogeneous market. Market segments generally respond in a predictable manner to a marketing or promotion offer.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/market-segment.html#ixzz2ZrbU2wSZ

Customer Segmentation:

The act of separating a group of clients into sets of similar individuals that are related from a marketing or demographic perspective. For example, a business that practices customer segmentation might group its current or potential customers according to their gender, buying tendencies, age group, and special interests.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/customer-segmentation.html#ixzz2ZrbcJ5PD 

Customer Problem also known as customer need:

Problems that customers intend to solve with the purchase of a good or service. See also customer expectations and customer requirements.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/customer-needs.html#ixzz2Zrc69Cul

Business Solution:

Answer(s) suggested or implemented to try and solve a question or problem. A solution can be either simple or complex and may require few resources or many resources. For example, the solution to a math question may be addressed quickly with a calculator but the solution to preventing accounting fraud may be more complex and require a great deal of time to find.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/solution.html#ixzz2ZrcUMmu6

Unique Value Proposition:

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services.

Creating a value proposition is a part of business strategy. Kaplan and Norton say “Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation.”

Developing a value proposition is based on a review and analysis of the benefits, costs and value that an organization can deliver to its customers, prospective customers, and other constituent groups within and outside the organization. It is also a positioning of value, where Value = Benefits – Cost

Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_proposition

Unfair Advantage also known as competitive advantage:

A superiority gained by an organization when it can provide the same value as its competitors but at a lower price, or can charge higher prices by providing greater value through differentiation. Competitive advantage results from matching core competencies to the opportunities.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/competitive-advantage.html#ixzz2ZreKfRpE

Key Metrics sometimes known as key performance indicators:

Key business statistics such as number of new orders, cash collection efficiency, and return on investment (ROI), which measure a firm’s performance in critical areas. KPIs show the progress (or lack of it) toward realizing the firm’s objectives or strategic plans by monitoring activities which (if not properly performed) would likely cause severe losses or outright failure.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/key-performance-indicators-KPI.html#ixzz2Zren8VeM

Channels sometimes known as distribution channel:

The path through which goods and services travel from the vendor to the consumer or payments for those products travel from the consumer to the vendor. A distribution channel can be as short as a direct transaction from the vendor to the consumer, or may include several interconnected intermediaries along the way such as wholesalers, distributers, agents andretailers. Each intermediary receives the item at one pricing point and movies it to the next higher pricing point until it reaches the final buyer.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/distribution-channel.html#ixzz2Zrf64hAz

Channels sometimes known as sales channel:

A way of bringing products or services to market so that they can be purchased by consumers. A sales channel can be direct if it involves a business selling directly to its customers, or it can be indirect if an intermediary such as a retailer or dealer is involved in selling the product to customers.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/sales-channel.html#ixzz2ZrfI7Mkj

Revenue Stream:

The income generated from sale of goods or services, or any other use of capital or assets, associated with the main operations of an organization before any costs or expenses are deducted. Revenue is shown usually as the top item in an income (profit and loss) statement from which all charges, costs, and expenses are subtracted to arrive at net income.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/revenue.html#ixzz2Zrfhdn8X

Cost Structure:

The expenses that a firm must take into account when manufacturing a product or providing a service. Types of cost structures include transaction costs, sunk costs, marginal costs and fixed costs.

Read more: http://www.investorwords.com/6462/cost_structure.html#ixzz2ZrgWVe9q

A method to determine how much it will cost a company to manufacture a product and how much profit will be recognized from manufacturing the product.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/cost-structure.html#ixzz2Zrgml3Ek

What is business model?

What is a business model? In this video Alexander Osterwalder, who created the concept of the business model canvas, explains the business model concept and its utility.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8zIESVOSEA&feature=youtu.be

Watch the short video at this link to understand the basic definition of a business model and note the simplicity of the concept. Often the term business model is one that is confusing and while there are several elements that make up a business model, in essence it comes down to this: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/businessmodel.asp (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Business Model Types

Read the article, 15 Business Models, to get a sense of the variety of ways a business can create value, the types of products and services they could offer and how they structure their operations to deliver the product or service. 15+Business+Models.docPreview the document


 Learning Objectives

Over the course of Startup Weekend you will learn the following:

  • Understand the term entrepreneurship–what it is and what it is not
  • Gain an understanding of the startup business landscape in the U.S.
  • Understand models of how new products and services are developed and taken to market
  • Understand what differentiates startups from other organizations
  • Understand the terms business model and business model canvas and learn how to use a business model canvas
  • Understand the fundamentals of how and why startups succeed or fail

Why do I want to be involved with Startup Weekend?

Winners of SWMU2016
Winners of SWMU2016

Not sure if Startup Weekend is for you or are concerned you will waste $25? Well, have you
ever had a business idea, an inclination to create your own business, wanted extra business
practice, or more experience working on a team? If you answered yes to any of these
questions, then Startup Weekend is the place for you! Use your $25 to launch your future. Your
$25 doesn’t just include your 48-hour experience with Startup Weekend, it’s an investment in
your future. In both 2015 and 2014 the first and second place winners participated in the
Brandery’s mini-accelerator course and have helped raise over $300,000 on Kickstarter.
Pitch to the judges, potentially work with companies, and take your idea past this weekend.
Can’t wait to see these amazing ideas come to life. Don’t miss this unique opportunity, sign up
now!Blog Post Content

Get Excited for #SWMU Again!

Startup Weekend Miami University is quickly approaching! Spots are limited, so sign up for only $25 to be a part of #SWMU. This is a weekend for students to practice critical entrepreneurial skills and for others to learn, all while earning a 1-hour credit for ESP 102. Be there for the 48 hours that it takes to bring your idea from start to finish.

Startup Weekend is a great opportunity for students from all majors to come create ideas together, practice teamwork, communication, and critical leadership skills. Mark your calendars and sign up now to be a part of this amazing event!

From Startup Weekend to Shark Tank: An Interview with Tom Burden

SHARK TANK - "Episode 912" - A U.S. Air Force fighter-jet machine-gun mechanic from Columbus, Ohio, introduces a high-performance problem-solver; an entrepreneur from Queens, New York, hopes the Sharks bite into a DNA test that aims to aid and optimize medical research; a Dallas, Texas, entrepreneur duo hopes to lure the Sharks with their high-tech solution for a common household chore; robots and drones are all the rage with boys, but one Bethesda, Maryland, entrepreneur is hoping to encourage more girls to get into coding and technology, on "Shark Tank," SUNDAY, NOV. 12 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) RICHARD BRANSON, MARK CUBAN, LORI GREINER, TOM BURDEN (GRYPMAT)

Startup Weekend is all about meeting great people, learning new things, and building something awesome.

There’s probably no better example of this than Tom Burden, who’s taken his Startup Weekend idea all the way to Shark Tank.

How did he pull it off?

SW Organizer Alex Bell caught up with Tom to learn exactly that.

Getting Traction

Alex: How did you find out about Startup Weekend and when did you first attend?

Tom: So, I first found out about Startup Weekend back in the day when I wanted to start doing the Grypmat, around the end of 2013.

I found the LaunchPad Incubator in Toledo and they had a business competition called Pitch & Pour. I applied to it and I got denied and then they were like “well, we’ve got an event called Startup Weekend” and I was like, “sweet, I’ll try it out” and ended up getting first place.

Around 2015, I started helping out with Columbus Startup Weekend after I realized it was like a networking powerhouse and there’s so much stuff that I could learn that I didn’t know from my startup, all of the tips and tricks of how to do things faster and easier.

If there’s a way to do it free, it’s at Startup Weekend, if there’s a way to find it as cheap as possible, it’s at Startup Weekend. There might be like a software program, like “hey, you can get a free or a trial version or if you actually use these other two softwares combined, it will give you the same output.”

So, yeah, it’s a very scrappy community.

Alex: So you had this idea for the Grypmat and you were just looking to really sink your teeth in, you wanted to go to this launch pad innovator/accelerator place and be part of their program but for whatever reason you weren’t legit enough for them, so they sent you to Startup Weekend first.

Tom: Yeah. It was just too early for the Pitch & Pour, Startup Weekend was more of where I was at in entrepreneurship – I needed to learn a lot more about startup stuff.

There was a lot of stuff that I didn’t even think about at the time, like how do you pitch an idea, make an effective presentation, how to be on stage, how do you describe your idea or get feedback from customers and stuff like that.

We tried to make a prototype over the weekend and it turned out horrible, like “OK, we’re not going to put that on stage.”

Alex: So Startup Weekend was kind of the perfect way to get Grypmat started, get some of those connections, get some of the skills built, get some of the threads of things that you can pull on to go further, like ‘OK, now I need to figure out this now, I need to learn that’.

Tom: Yeah.

Alex: That’s awesome. That first time you pitched the idea for the Grypmat and it was one of the ideas that were chosen for the weekend?

Tom: Yeah, I think they took like 10 ideas and mine was the tenth.

Alex: Was it specifically for aircraft then or what was your idea at that point?

Tom: Yeah, yeah. I was a National Guard F16 Weapons Mechanic at the time, so the idea was that whatever part of a jet you’re working on, you would have a different mat that’s form-fitted for that part of the jet.

Alex: That’s awesome. You mentioned you tried to build a prototype and it didn’t work out really well. What did that look like?

Tom: So we were trying out this grip material, like a paint that you can put on tool handles to grip them better.

I also bought some wire mesh – kind of like a screen door – and I would cut it into a shape that I wanted and then I try to coat it with the grip paint.

It just turned into a dripping mess and we ended up throwing it out.

Alex: Definitely not worthy of using in your final presentation.

Tom: Yeah, yeah. I wish I would have taken a picture of it and put that in the presentation, like ‘yeah, we tried to make a prototype, it didn’t work’.

Alex: That would have been great, judges and people in general like to see “here’s how hard we failed this weekend”

So you tried to make this prototype, did you just end up with a presentation, did you guys have some sort of like 3D AutoCAD kind of design or did you have anything for the presentation other than just “here’s us pitching the idea?”

Tom: Probably, the most impressive part of the presentation was that I had some of the material [that I make Grypmats out of].

I put the material on a stool and I put my iPod on top of it while playing a song, then I took the stool and I moved it so that iPod was vertical, still playing music.

I also had a model of a jet with little bits of material stuck to it to visually see that where we need this gripey material on the curved surfaces of a jet.

Alex: That makes sense, having a sort of visual aid that maybe doesn’t look pretty but shows what you were trying to do.

So all in all what was your impression of that first weekend? Obviously winning was a big highlight.

Staying Scrappy

Tom: Yeah, winning was super exciting and you feel like you’re on cloud nine.

Then Monday hits and you’re just like “everyone is just going to like me and everything’s going to work” and it doesn’t work that way.

I remember I was like “wow, I need to make a working prototype!”

I figured, if anyone can make it, it’s a college engineering department, so I just kept asking professor after professor after professor where I could go to get something made and people kept saying “I don’t know what you can do, and I have no idea anyone that you could go to.”

The thing you’ve got to understand is you’re not the top priority of these people’s lives, when you’re going to them, the chances of them being to execute what you need are slim – even if they can do it they might not want to make the time.

I finally got to talking with the Dean of Engineering and he was like “we’ve got this machine shop that could get it made.”

So I went to the machine shop, ended up making some stuff and none of it worked.

At the same time, I was talking to some people in charge of an innovation grant and they directed me to this prototyping company that was actually in Columbus.

That company told me that it was going to be $15000 to make a prototype and I was like “no, that’s outrageous. I can do a lot of the drawings and all the research and a lot of the stuff myself, I just need them to help make it, I don’t need $10,000 put into brainstorming, I just want this made.”

At the time there was some magic to being broke.

If I had $100,000 back then, I would have created a product that would have been complete trash but the thing is, if I have a $100,000 now, I can turn that into a million dollars probably within six months.

When you’re at that broke phase, well, there’s two ways you can go about it.

You can either say, A – “there’s no other route to go and I’m going to quit” or B – you can constantly say “how can this happen, how can we create a solution, get around this or is there another way or another avenue.”

I could have sat there – I actually did stop for three or four months when I was waiting to hear back from this prototyping company, I was just sitting around expecting them to do it.

Eventually I realized, if I work with this company, something may come to light, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to keep pushing my business forward.

So I went back to asking different professors for help and eventually found this company in Toledo that sells these two-part chemicals I needed to make Grypmats.

He just knew everything, “yeah, the best way to do it would be this,” “make sure you take this, release and spray it so it doesn’t stick to the wet mold,” – things it might have taken me a long time to figure out on my own.

So I finally got the answer I was looking for but it took a lot of people to get just that one answer.

And with that answer, I built the first Grypmat mold during Thanksgiving break in my dad’s barn and for about $60.

Alex: I imagine working through that was tough.

It sounds like it took a lot of heading back to the grindstone of “Oh, this might be a lead. No, this isn’t working out, what do I do now? Well, I could give up but is there a next thing? What’s that next thread that I can start pulling on to keep making some more progress?”

Tom: I would always envision that I wanted to try every single door to see if one opens and when one opens, who knows what I’d find on the other side.

That’s how I thought when I was going to all these different professors, “okay this door is locked or this door is not opening. Ok, here’s one that opened, what’s it going to? Well, it’s going to someone else that knows about these materials, OK we’re kind of making progress, now that led to making a prototype. Now, with the prototype, we can show people the product, what’s the next row of doors? Let’s get funding or how do we get this manufactured.”

You’re just constantly trying every single option or door you can get your hands on until one works.

Alex: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Solid life advice even outside of entrepreneurship.

So, you’ve been back to Startup Weekend since that first time, you mentioned the learning and networking as reasons why.

Tom: Yeah, the community is great. A lot of the best friends that I have now and the people that I work with are from Startup Weekend.

It’s not just professional networking, it’s also personal networking, making friendships and meeting like-minded people.

Also, I always felt like the people who organized Startup Weekend are like just on another level of being scrappy.  I’ve always felt that if I were to work with all of the Startup Weekend people, we would take over the world because you’re raising money and putting these events together to lay the foundation for all of these potential companies in your free time.

So, yeah, any of the organizers, the facilitators, they’ve always been like top notch, it’s always good to be around other people like that.

Making the Future

Alex: For sure.  This my first year of organizing and definitely, it’s cool learning from all the different people and figuring out how to make this thing work.

Next question is kind of a big one: what are you working on now?

Obviously, there’s the Grypmat – hopefully everybody’s seen your Shark Tank presentation.

For those that haven’t, you got a deal and now your Startup Weekend idea is a real company, you’ve got people working with you, you’re traveling around – what’s next?

Tom: So the next step is really expanding our team – this morning, I was talking with a couple of potential interns.

At the same time, we’re growing the Grypmat from something that’s just for Aviation into a product for tool organization.

So it started as “Oh, if you work on planes, you should probably get the Grypmat.”  Now it’s “if you work with tools or you like to be organized and you have physical things that aren’t being organized, you should probably get a Grypmat.”

We’re getting a lot of attention from automotive, military, medical, quite a few different spots within the beauty supplies, we’re experimenting and testing these different markets.

So, that’s kind of the direction of we’re growing into as a company.

And beyond just growing the company, the team and I are starting to see that the mat will be a great segue to get contacts and resources in nearly every single market.

In the future, if I have a product for military, I’m already going to know how to get a product within the military, if I have something for automotive, I’ll already have all the contacts to do so – we’ll be making a handful of phone calls to put things into motion rather than trying to build relationships.

Along with that, I want to be the model company for the Sharks, where they’ll need a system for a new company and I’ll say “well, this is how we’ve been doing it and it’s kind of scrappy, it’s kind of new, but it’s been extremely fruitful” and then they’ll basically have their other companies adopt those systems.

I guess that’s really the long-term vision – optimizing systems.

I mean, I think about what it would be like if we got to the point where Grypmat lowers costs for airlines, then they can drop their ticket prices to be more competitive and better serve their customers.

The same thing with Medicare – what if we get to the point where the operating room is so efficient that operations become less expensive.

I get it, it’s just a rubber tray right now, but I believe my strong point is inventing and seeing these flaws in the systems and I feel like Grypmat is just kind of a stepping stone for going further in that direction.

Alex: That’s awesome dude, I love how you’re aligning where you’ve been, what you’re doing today, and where you want to be in another 10 years so well.

Is there anything else you want to mention before I let you go?

Tom: Yeah, if you’re interested in entrepreneurship or startups or not, I think it’s definitely worth going to Startup Weekend.

I’ve never heard of anyone who has gone and didn’t find it life-changing or didn’t leave with a new friend or inspired; everyone who goes leaves with something that’s very impactful to their life.

Alex: Awesome, thanks for your time Tom!

To Learn More

Be sure to follow the latest Grypmant News on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you’re coming to our next Startup Weekend, you can meet Tom in person – he is Saturday’s featured speaker!