Turning Impactful Ideas Into Businesses at Startup Weekend – Social Impact!

Turning Impactful Ideas into Businesses

San Diego Startup Weekend — Social Impact Nov 13th – 15th

Written by Creators.ink

There is a perception floating around that only nonprofits can do social good. That, however, is a misconception. There is an emerging type of business called a social enterprise. This is where smart people, just like you, have figured out innovative ways to do good and make a profit for sustainable measures at the same time. It is the concept of using business as a platform to create a positive impact.


For example, Tom’s shoes has a 1-to-1 model of matching every pair of shoes sold with a donated pair. Also, the local company, Classy, is a SaaS platform for social good programs. When a company’s main objective is to do something for social good but is also profit-seeking, it is called a social enterprise.


Solutions can come in many forms. From improving an individual’s quality of life to bettering the future state of the planet — the best and brightest will come together to make the next big change.


Social enterprise objectives typically fall into two categories: environmental and socio-economic.





There is opportunity for new solutions in water, energy, and waste both globally and right here in San Diego. California has long battled drought with indications of water shortages continuing to affect our future. Water conservation, recycling and desalination are solutions need to be improved and expanded to rescue us from water overuse and drought. For instance, desalination is the removal of salt and minerals from ocean water to make it drinkable. San Diego has a large amount of ocean water, but the cost of desalination is higher than alternatives in the U.S. Other countries, like Israel and Australia, depend on desalination because they have no other choice. How can we improve on the existing solutions that work around the world so that they work here?

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is a huge market in California. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to generate a third of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. This has opened the door for a flood of investment and innovation in the renewable energy space. How can we make renewable energy more accessible and prevalent in San Diego?


Waste Management

There is also room for innovation in waste management — recycling, composting, and upstream production of non-decomposable materials (i.e. Styrofoam). How can we collect and manage waste more effectively in San Diego or globally?  Maybe the solution is to not create much trash in the first place…



Some of the major socio-economic pain points in San Diego, include the income and cost of living gap, access to quality education, and homelessness.

Cost of Living

San Diego is the fifth most expensive housing market in the entire U.S. There are more many more people residing in San Diego than there are high-salaried jobs, and yet still the housing market is through the roof. Could we re-concept how we coexist?


Education & Resources

There are innovations in education that can continue to be built upon here in San Diego. Consider High Tech High and how we can incorporate new practices like this in our everyday educational institutions. What  would it take to ensure that each person has the job and skill training to gain employment? Are there ways to incentivize more cutting edge teaching concepts in the classroom and  provide high quality teachers, mentors, and role models?


San Diego has the third largest homeless population in the nation. The 2014 San Diego Regional Homeless Profile study found that over 8,500 homeless persons live in San Diego County alone. In cities and in residential areas, people walk the streets unable to move forward and take the steps needed to get back on their feet. It doesn’t have to be that way. How can with help those with drug addiction, mental disorders, physical disabilities, and personal financial collapse? How can we create solutions to help the homeless put their lives back together?


There are more questions than answers for the social and environmental issues in San Diego and globally. This means lots of opportunity!

The team behind Startup Weekend – Social Impact invites the most promising entrepreneurs and students to share ideas, form or join teams, and build exciting businesses.

The weekend concludes with live demos, judged by a panel for real feedback, and prizes  awarded to winning teams to help launch their businesses. As this weekend is a part of a once-a-year Global Startup Battle, the winning teams will move on to compete with other winners from around the globe! Mentors, volunteers, experts and community leaders will be there to support throughout.


Come out, dive in — and be the next big San Diego social enterprise!

Register Here: http://www.up.co/communities/usa/san-diego/startup-weekend/7017
Discount Code: StartSomeGood



Startup Weekend San Diego Mega 2015 Recap

Congratulations to all the teams that participated this past weekend at the event. Over 3 days around 80 people came together to take ideas they had for new startups and make them reality.

The event focused on hardware as well as software innovation and the best teams found a way to take their ideas and combine the best of both worlds. Teams blended the traditional entrepreneurial skills in web and mobile software development with new means of making:  3D printing, robotics, laser cutter, hackable hardware, and more. 

The Pet Hash Team
The Pet Hash Team

After hearing over 30 pitches on Friday night, 11 teams formed and worked through the weekend. The 1st Place winner for this Startup Weekend is Pet Hash made up of Kevin Kirk, Robert Powell, Alejandro Saenz, and Karim Roushdy. Pet Hash is a simple, cheap way to reconnect a lost pet with with their owner. Utilizing a pet tag with a unique ID (“hashtag”) on it, a person that finds a lost pet is directed to PetHash.com. On the website they type in the pet’s hashtag and then see that specific pets profile. The profile includes all about your pets special needs, temperament, medications it may be on, and information about the pet’s veterinarian.

The 2nd Place team for the weekend was Saucey Sides (Eugene Chan, Lisa Chaykowksi, Nancy Chansavang, and Ryan Ruscon). This team has developed a new disposable container for soy sauce and wasabi that allows people to easily enjoy both condiments without a mess. The 3rd Place team is Safe Place App (Harry Dixon, Parima Shah, Rajkrishnan Parameswaran, Trevor Gile). This app gives users who may find themselves in an neighborhood or environment where they feel unsafe a map of locations where they can go as a kind of “safe harbor” from where they can call a cab or arrange for transportation home.

The top team won a Launch Boost package from FreshForm interactive. This prize includes production of a 60 – 90 second product “pitch video” as well as consultation on logo and brand palette refinement so that when the team is ready for public launch they have a great start on the marking resources they’ll need. In addition, the top three teams get to participate in the library’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence program that includes training on using the library’s 3D printers, laser cutter, and CNC milling machine. Teams also receive mentorship from library coaches for their business.

Many thanks to San Diego Public Library, Saratech, FreshForm, The TEAM Group, 1App Works, and Fab Lab for all of their support in making this event possible. We wish all of the teams the best of luck as they move forward.

-San Diego Startup Weekend Team

FreshForm’s “Brand Launch” Prize for Startup Weekend MEGA Winner

FreshForm StudioIn San Diego, we’ve helped several new startup teams come together over the years. For the teams that stay together after the weekend, at some point they need an effective way to tell their story – either to gain customers, help with a crowd funding campaign, or potentially to woo investors.

FreshForm, a digital branding agency in San Diego and Austin, was a key sponsor of our 2014 Mega event. I’m happy that the company is not only back on board this year, but also deepening their engagement with an awesome prize package to help one team tell its story. FreshForm’s “Brand Launch” Prize includes the following for the winning team:

  • A 2-Hour Creative Workshop
  • Logo & Color Palette Refinement
  • Creative Copywriting: To Help Tell the Brand Story
  • Professional Photography of the Product Prototype
  • Shooting & Editing of a :60 – :90 Sec. Product “Pitch Video”

This is about $20,000 worth of services that will definitely help the winning team build an audience when they’re ready. I can’t wait to see what new startups come out of the upcoming Mega event, and I’m looking forward to how this grand prize helps that team launch their product!

Annoucing Mega Mini-Workshops to Help Participants Succeed!

Teams working during the 2014 Mega event.
Teams working during the 2014 Mega event.

Recently with Startup Weekend events, we’ve been blessed to have leaders volunteer their time to create events to support various communities including our Women’s Edition, Education, FashionMilitary Veterans, and Social Impact events. To balance this, the original inspiration for last year’s Mega event was to do an event where every type of new business idea was encouraged and supported. This included our first-ever outreach to the Maker community with our partnership with Fab Lab. This year, we’re creating another great, inclusive event – but better in several ways!

Event Mini-Workshops

Startup Weekend is about teams learning and experimenting with new skills that will help the founders be successful entrepreneurs. To support that we will be offering optional mini-workshops to introduce participants to some information and techniques they can use with their teams. Here are some of the topics:

  • Intro to Lean Methodology: How do you know your idea is something that the market actually wants? Get a quick introduction to customer validation and learn about some great resources for learning more.
  • Intro to Maker Tools: What is a laser cutter? What can and can’t you build with 3D printers? After this workshop you’ll have a better understanding of what is possible the current tools on the market.
  • Intro to the World of App Dev.: So your startup needs an app, but you’re a non-technical person. In this session we’ll explore iOS vs Android dev
  • Pitching 101: On Sunday teams make a 5-minute pitch to a panel of judges. Learn the basics of what makes an effective an powerful pitch.
  • Hardware Startup Economics: Creating a startup based on physical products is very different than purely digital (web, app) based startups. Learn more about how to create reasonable business models these types of startups.

All of these optional sessions will take place at the library during Startup Weekend Mega on Oct. 30th to Nov. 1st and are free to participants. We hope these help individuals and teams get even more out of the weekend. Register for the event today at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/startup-weekend-san-diego-mega-tickets-17105960388

5 Reasons Men Should Attend Women's Edition

When our organizing group decided to do a Women’s Edition, we never once entertained the idea of not letting men attend. This is for a pretty specific reason: equality and empowerment for women in entrepreneurship requires men to be involved, too.

So here you go, we have five reasons men should attend Women’s Edition. Ready? Here we go!

1. Showing up is saying that you support equality for half of the population. While women may be roughly half of the humans who occupy the planet, we ladies face inequality in virtually all aspects of employment and socioeconomic development. By showing up to say that you believe women should have a place in entrepreneurship, you’re saying that you believe in equality for half the population!

2. You will have no problem surveying women for your idea. One of the difficulties of doing customer validation is finding your audience. Women – as half the population! – are an important element of customer validation, and Women’s Edition will give you an easily-available audience of women whose customer validation will be a breeze!

3. Women make spending decisions. Most tech events are mostly men; that’s one a few places where it is forgotten that women make the spending decisions. Where real people are spending real money – and not exchanging “likes” for a “yo” or a “favorite” – 85% of all brand purchases are made by women. If you’re looking to really come up with a marketable idea, learn why women spend their dollars and where – this event is perfect for this.

4. Our speakers, mentors, and judges are out-of-this-world. We have some of the most amazing speakers, mentors, and judges showing up to help you. Yes, you. You’ll be getting face time with strong women who wouldn’t have time otherwise. You’re welcome.

5. This is the first of its kind in San Diego and you’ll be part of something amazing. There is never a reason not to attend Startup Weekend. Networking, learning, creating, building – there are so many things that happen at a Startup Weekend, and that’s why so many of us keep coming back for more.

Sign up now for SWSD Women’s Edition at SDSU May 1-3.

Why We're Doing a Women's Edition

If you’re a female and you have ever attended a startup community event, you may have noticed that you might be one of few women in the room. You may have even been the only woman in the room. And you may have noticed that this is a common occurrence.

My co-organizers have all recognized the same thing I have seen: because women are often just a fraction of the attendees at a startup event, the focus and atmosphere just isn’t always conducive for women to truly participate comfortably – whether it be a pitchfest, hackathon, or hey – Startup Weekend.

This isn’t unique to startup culture, of course. Inequality in the workplace forms spaces where women aren’t able to contribute to their full potential. When it’s more difficult to be heard, the likelihood of stepping up into a role or responsibility is even more difficult. When you throw a tech-centric event into the mix, where women are typically outnumbered by men, the politics of gender, power, and privilege become a bigger issue. It’s already tough enough to step up in front of a lot of people, pitch an idea, and work the crowd! If you look out into a sea of faces and see very few faces that resemble your own, how encouraging is that? What if you’re introverted? What if you’re shy?

On top of the bravery it takes to stand up, pitch, and pour your heart and soul into a weekend of building a business, it’s a lot to face the dynamic created by inequality. We want to remove the pressure of that dynamic and provide a space where women can feel less like the minority, and more like the faces in the crowd are there to hear them out. As a women who have often been the only gals in the crowd, we know that it will make for an entirely different experience – for both women and men.

We’re excited to make this an event about empowering women. One really great part about that is that it doesn’t mean that just women should attend; some of our organizers are men, and they, too, understand that equality takes all of us. We hope you will join us and show us the energy and enthusiasm that comes with believing in an equal and empowering setting for women.

Overall, we really want to see women shine at this event. We want to see more women pitch, more women lead, and more women feeling empowered after leaving this event. We want to see this event make a difference in women’s lives and we’re excited to do this with Startup Weekend in sunny San Diego.

Why I Care About Female Entrepreneurship

As one of the few male members of the organizing crew for Startup Weekend San Diego Women’s Edition, I feel privileged to participate in an event that is working towards gender equality. Being a feminist, I don’t believe that women are better than men, but rather that women should be treated as equal to men. I would like to share my feelings about why I feel like what we’re doing at Startup Weekend Woman’s Edition is important, and what it means to me personally as a member of the San Diego tech community.

There is a very clear problem among technology companies in the United States. Despite half of the workforce being female, tech companies do not employ 50% women. Statistics from Google released in 2014 highlight this problem: only 30% of Google’s employees are female and only 17% of engineers are female. Although this isn’t a representative sample of all tech companies, it’s safe to say that Google is an industry leader and often sets the standard for other companies to follow. Women aren’t getting jobs in tech, and I think that it’s tough to put a finger on exactly what the root cause of this skewed ratio is. There a few reasons like the fact that as of 2012 women make up only 11.2% of all computer science and engineering degrees awarded. But there is also a cultural problem in tech companies and many of them have been known to have a “frat boy” culture that isn’t inclusive or welcoming of women. Although it is harder to change the physical numbers of women who get STEM related degrees, it’s not hard to change the culture around tech companies. This is a huge reason why I think having events like Startup Weekend Women’s Edition is an example of taking a step in the right direction for the future.

I don’t just think that females would be great in technology companies, but I also know they can be amazing entrepreneurs. Growing up, I was lucky enough learn life lessons from a strong entrepreneur. My grandmother Mary Patt Dorr grew her photography hobby into an iconic local business in Manhattan Beach. I learned a great number of life and business lessons from her. I never thought twice that she was a woman, or that what she was doing wasn’t common. Later on in my life, now that she has passed, I have to say that what she accomplished was nothing short of amazing. My grandma is a fantastic example of how to grow a local business and build a very popular brand.

I think that what we are doing at Startup Weekend Women’s Edition is powering innovation and creating a cultural setting that is optimal for moving towards gender equality in business and beyond. There are a few things that I wish to gain from interacting with the attendees at this Startup Weekend; I hope that the attendees of this weekend will be committed to teamwork, innovation, and continuation. But most importantly, I hope that everyone that comes to Startup Weekend will leave with a sense that they helped take a step forward towards equality.

Brain Corp Tech Empowers Entrepreneurs to Create Amazing New Products and Startups

Brain Corp's bStem Board
Brain Corp’s bStem Board

We were very fortunate at the Startup Weekend Maker event in San Diego to have Brain Corporation come onboard as a sponsor. Not only did they financially support the event, but they also donated some great bStem boards to the participants to use in their startups, as well as send engineers to help teams integrate the technology. I asked Brain Corp to provide some more details about how their tech helps entrepreneurs. Below some great info from them about their technology platform…

Bringing a robot to market can be prohibitively expensive and complex, and traditional programming solutions lead to products that aren’t adaptable and lack true intelligence. With Brain Corporation’s technology, entrepreneurs and startups have access to high-performance, low-power mobile hardware that’s been specifically tuned for robotics and is easy to develop on. Their bStem platform, an integrated solution with all sensors on one board, is designed to be an advanced brain for robots boasting features like stereo-vision and an easy to use on-board development environment. Their BrainOS software allows developers to leverage training,significantly reducing programming efforts. Complex behaviors can be developed without the need for advanced Artificial Intelligence domain expertise. With BrainOS, end-users can even customize behaviors through a simple, intuitive training interface.

Brain Corporation Logo

MbientLab Joins as Sponsor for Startup Weekend SD MEGA event

MetaWear by MbientLab

We are excited to see continuous support of local San Diego hardware and software entrepreneurs at the upcoming San Diego Startup Weekend MEGA event. Join us in welcoming MbientLab as a new sponsor of the event.

MbientLab, through its MetaWear platform, provides a complete solution to building wearable Bluetooth devices. MetaWear is a Bluetooth sensor platform that can be used to build smart, connected, and wearable products. MetaWear’s modular platform grants you, as an innovator, the opportunity to add your own pieces to its platform opening up the potential for millions of configurations. With an open iOS and Android APIs, MetaWear allows for fast and easy development of prototypes and products that connect to devices through Bluetooth technology. Take a look at MbientLab’s MetaWear demos and tutorials here.

The continuous support of our sponsors has allowed us to strive for a great San Diego Startup Weekend MEGA event. We hope you are as excited as us to see the support they show for the software and hardware entrepreneurs in attendance. To join in on a weekend full of shared ideas and innovations, register now.

Follow MbientLab on twitter, @mbientLab, or find out more about MetaWear on www.mbientlab.com

Startup Weekend Magic: Making the Most of the Event

Damain and his team
Damian and Breadcrumbs Team

I recently asked some past participants of Startup Weekend San Diego to share their story of participating in the event. Here is one person’s perspective:

“The inspiration, ideas, practices, and people that I was exposed to during that one weekend have altered the course of my life forever.

I will share something that I experienced and call ‘Startup Weekend Magic’.  The truth is that it is real and you can experience it and all the amazing experiences that it can manifest.  The secret to this “magic” is for one to focus their energy, heart, and intelligence on being positive, helpful, and synergistic with all, no matter who you interface with, what the idea is, or what odds you think you are up against at the time.

The priceless impact that Startup Weekend had on my life was showing me that this ‘magic’ not only works in the microcosm of the weekend….but guess what…the it works everywhere else I have tried it in the macrocosm of life.

This is your chance!  Leave your ego at the door, keep an open mind and heart by remembering how to be a kid again, create things that help others, and just be fearless and play!

Implement this practice and the magic of Startup Weekend will manifest for you also and I promise that you will have an experience that is beyond priceless towards evolving you into the being that you know you can and deserve to be.

Thank you Startup Weekend and all those that make it possible you have my extreme gratitude forever and I will always spread this magic to others.”

-Damian Cutillo is Co-Founder of AirBitz (airbitz.co)

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