5 Things to Know When You Come to Youth Startup Weekend

We want Youth Startup Weekend to be as impactful, educational and fun as possible! We believe that the first step to making that happen is to make sure you’re extra prepared before you even come in.

You don’t need to come with a business already created. 

In fact, you’re not allowed to! Come with an idea of a problem you’d like to solve, how you might solve it and the type of team you would need to do this! Our facilitator walks you through the ideation phase and pitching process, so no prep work is necessary!

There are some really awesome mentors, talk to them!

We will have mentors walking around throughout the entire event. They are entrepreneurs, small business owners, and team members from huge companies! Expect to chat with industry experts from companies like Uber, GoDaddy, Nextiva, and so many more!! If you want to bring questions to ask them, do it. These mentors are here to help you both over the weekend and with your future entrepreneurial endeavors.

The best team isn’t always a team of your friends

We can’t stress this one enough. We’ve seen teams form because they’re best friends, but they aren’t all interested in putting in the hard work or passionate about the business. Make sure that you form a team that seems to get along and each team member can contribute something unique.

We use scrum boards for efficiency 

They look like this ^. We have them formatted for you and ready to go, but these help mentors know what’s going on. We’ll show you how to use them at the event.

It’s not about winning

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART, SO LISTEN CLOSE. This event is not about winning. It’s about taking an idea and creating something from it. It’s about doing that rapidly, managing your time well, and getting to know some awesome fellow entrepreneurs in the process. Come with that mindset and you’ll move mountains.

Ready… Aim… Pitch Fire!

Startup Weekend is about connecting the entrepreneurs, makers and innovators in our community toward solving real problems by building new viable businesses from scratch in one weekend.

Pitch Fire

The main event on Friday night is called Pitch Fire. Anyone with a new business idea will be given exactly one minute to tell the room what problem they intend to solve, how they propose to solve it, and what kind of team they need to assemble.

Pitching is Caring

When our community comes together to share the problems we see, and the solutions we’ve conceived, powerful things happen. At Startup Weekend, it’s common to discover a handful of people that are deeply interested in the same things we are. Sharing our ideas is a first step toward discovering the resources and relationships we need.

It’s not required or expected that every participant pitch a business idea, but it’s strongly recommended! The experience of pitching to an audience and discovering whether your message is clearly understood by all is an important part of the entrepreneurial journey.

If you don’t bring an idea, or aren’t comfortable pitching, that’s okay. Just bring your passion, skills, and tools. There are many important roles to play throughout the weekend. You’ll find a good business idea to work on, have tons of fun, learn new things, eat great food, and meet some amazing people.

Sell Your Solution; Sell Yourself

While people are listening to your idea, they’re also observing you. They’re considering whether they want to work with you in close proximity for the next two days. They’re assessing whether you seem able to work well with a team and sustain the business going forward.

You Bring More Than an Idea

As a member of the team you hope to assemble you’ll want to quickly include a note about who you are and what you bring to the table. There’s no room in a startup for someone who is merely the “idea person.” You also bring experiences, skills, aptitudes, relationships, resources, etc. What strengths do you have which are relevant? Why are you the right person to explore and execute a solution?

Pitch Pattern

A simple 60-second pitch may look like:

:10 seconds – Introduce yourself.  
:20 seconds – Describe the problem you’ll solve.  
:20 seconds – Describe the solution.   
:10 seconds – Tell us who/what you need to be pull it off.  

Choosing a Name

During your initial pitch on Friday night your goal is to communicate clearly, be memorable, and generate interest around your idea. Choose a working title which is simple, descriptive, and memorable. Don’t worry — you can change it later. Imagine what someone would think about your idea based on the name alone. Without hearing your pitch, would they be able to guess what your business is about?

Practicing Your Pitch

Practice to a timer. On Friday night you’ll have exactly 1 minute to pitch your idea. It goes by fast. Practice to a timer a dozen times before you get up and do it front of an audience.

Practice with people. Practice your pitch with a variety of people. Try it on a grandparent, a friend, a coworker, a classmate, and a few strangers. Stick to your one minute pitch when practicing on people. After you pitch, ask them what they think you’re trying to do. You’ll discover what aspects of your pitch are unclear and learn to correct them so that people understand your proposal the first time.

Start Up, Sign Up

Startup Weekend returns to Fargo March 3rd – 5th. Get your ticket here and get ready! Startup Weekend Fargo 2017

Don’t Miss Startup Weekend Chicago | Maker Edition | March 10-12 @mHUB

We’re kicking off 2017 with our first ever Startup Weekend – Maker Edition! Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. The weekend events are centered on action, innovation, and education. 

What does Maker Edition mean? Participants will pitch startup ideas that include the development of a physical technical component/product. No, you don’t need technical experience to participate. Successful startups leverage the diverse skills of their team; including business, marketing, development, and design! 

Sound like a tall order in 52 hours? No worries! We’ve partnered with mHUB to provide participants access to state-of-the-art machines, workspace, and material! mHUB is Chicago’s first innovation center focused on physical product development and manufacturing. mHUB galvanizes the manufacturing ecosystem by bringing innovative ideas, attracting world class talent, and driving greater productivity and profit. mHUB provides members access to 63,000 square feet of state-of-the-art machines and work space, and a vibrant community of manufacturers, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers and investors. mHUB ensures Chicago’s legacy remains that of a beacon to a region that builds products, and also the future. 

Join Startup Weekend Chicago and mHUB in Building the Future! Come pitch, join a team, iron out your business model, and tinker away! Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.

Come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups!




Meet The Chicago Startup Weekend Team: Brittani Alston

Name: Brittani Alston

Age: 23

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Chicago Startup Weekend Role: Project Manager/Technical Lead

Creative Industry Focus: Performing Arts, Live Entertainment

Tell me a bit about yourself: My lifetime goal has always been to become a super entrepreneur; an innovative leader who impacts the community positively. Upon graduation from Columbia College Chicago, I hope to officially launch my leadership training program for collegiate women in Milwaukee, WI.

Have you attended a Startup Weekend before? I have attended a Startup Weekend; Startup Weekend Bloomington 2016

If so, what did you enjoy about your Startup Weekend experience? I enjoyed the late work hours filled with adrenaline and exhaustion! There’s nothing like developing a complex idea under pressure in a short period of time!

What can individuals expect at Startup Weekend Chicago? Participants at Startup Weekend Chicago can expect a unique experience from the diversity of ideas and perspectives that will be brought to the room. Chicago is a gold mine for entrepreneurship!

Why should people attend Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition? People should attend the weekend to learn about their strengths, network with others, and push their entrepreneurial limits.

What advice do you have for someone that wants to make their creative business idea/dream a reality? Strive to take action opposed to simply being “in motion”. There’s a difference between planning and execution. Startup Weekend can be an easy first step!

Purchase tickets here: http://www.up.co/communities/…/chicago/startup-weekend/10099

5 Things I Learned at Startup Weekend (and You Will Too!)

Your Idea Matters

I went into Startup Weekend with an entirely clean slate. I (literally) had no idea what Startup Weekend was, what it was about, who would be there, and so on. My friend said I should do it, and so I did. I distinctly remember walking in the room, looking around at all the people who were completely different than myself and thinking, “Oh my, what did I get into?” Then the pitches started. I frantically took notes on my phone, trying to keep up with all the pitches. I realized some of the people pitching ideas had come up with them right then and there. Some ideas were huge, like building a year-round, sustainable, community garden powered by fancy hydroponics and whatnot. Other ideas were relatively simple, like creating an interactive app with infographics about heart attacks. All the pitches were presented with passion and excitement. No one ever said “That’s a dumb idea.” No matter the size of an idea, or how long it was thought out, whatever idea you have – it matters. Ideas change the world.

Be Passionate

When our team leader pitched his idea the first night, I sensed his enthusiasm in his pitch and wanted to match it with my own. As the teams separated and began working early into the morning, we found that we were not very organized and going around in circles with our conversations. We struggled to make a game plan, find where to start, and even make the first step. But we did learn one thing that night – we were all passionate about making our startup work somehow, someway. My team seemed like an odd mix up of people, but we were passionate and excited to do our work. Our energy is what kept our team rolling forward on our project. If your team doesn’t have positive energy, what do you have? Staying true to what each of us was passionate about was what made us so good at each of our tasks. Don’t pretend to be excited about something you’re not – join a team that shares similar passions with you! I’m thoroughly convinced that our enthusiasm as a team is what helped us win. Stay true to your passions, because your passions will help you have an amazing experience.

Use Your Strengths

In high school I did a thing called StrengthsFinder. It’s this crazy long quiz produced by Gallup which ascertains your top five strengths. My top five are input, relator, developer, adaptability, and restorative. I’m good at giving input – I listen to what you have to say and then I tell you what I think. Then I could help you develop your idea by giving you feedback from my point of view, or I could help you restore your idea into something more viable. I’m good at relating to different people. Most the time, I’m good at adapting to the various curve balls life throws at me. I used these strengths so many times when working with my Startup Weekend team. I didn’t have technical skills or design skills, but I had other strengths and I knew how to use them well. You might not have taken the StrengthsFinders quiz, but you know what strengths you have and how you can use them to be helpful to your team. If you are like me, don’t worry about your technical or design skills, use your strengths and you’ll be fine!

Rely on Others

While I may be adaptable, I’m also super controlling, and kind of a neat freak. When it came to the point in Startup Weekend when we were all exhausted and running off of carbs and coffee, another side of me came out. I got frustrated when I was doing research and couldn’t find the information we wanted. But that’s why my friend Skyler was there. We were the research team, and so when my ugly side showed up, Skyler helped me get back on track and working towards the goal. My teammates relied on one another; we helped each other out when we struggled. We encouraged each other when were were in gloomy times of little sleep. We lifted up one another when we needed it. That’s what your team is for. Rely on your team to keep you accountable, on track, and working towards the goal – that’s why it’s called a “team.”

Put Yourself Out There

I went to Startup Weekend because my friend told me to (and I was told there was free food). I’m a biology major who works as a CNA and EMT in small-town North Dakota. I thought I wouldn’t fit in with the Startup Weekend crowd. I felt completely useless. Of course, I knew if someone broke their arm or was in cardiac arrest from a caffeine overdose, I might suddenly become the most qualified person in the room. Regardless, I brought everything I had to the table. And because I put little ol’ me out there, I met some of the coolest people in Fargo and discussed some engaging ideas with total strangers. Don’t say “no” to Startup Weekend because you think you have nothing to offer, because you have to offer yourself, your strengths, and your passions – and that’s huge! If nothing else, just come for a lot of really great food.


The next Startup Weekend Fargo is March 3-5, it’s coming up quick! For details and tickets, visit www.up.co/communities/usa/fargo/startup-weekend/9626

Meet The Chicago Startup Weekend Team: Melissa Jimenez

“Be flexible and open minded. Don’t be so tied to your idea that you stifle its potential for growth.” – Melissa Jimenez


Name: Melissa Jimenez
Age: 29
Hometown: Diego Martin, Trinidad & Tobago
Creative Industry of Focus: Live entertainment and Events

Role for Chicago Startup Weekend: Lead Organizer

Tell us a bit about yourself.
A classically trained singer who loves singing complex classical works (I’m talking about things like the 60 minute vocal performance of Carmina Burana – which I have memorized by the way) and Musicals (my favourite is Aida). I majored in Musical Arts and Sociology. Live entertainment, events and entrepreneurial business development is my passion. An ambivert on most days but if you really want to see me turn it on, watch me in event coordination mode. I love to dance but sadly structured dance doesn’t like me – I tell people I have 6 left feet. When I’m not in work mode, being a Caribbean girl to my core, you can find me relaxing on a beach or cruising on a boat with a peach or mango cocktail in hand basking in the sunshine. The beach is my place of calm, rest and solace. It helps me to center and re-focus.

This is such a cliché question, but, where do you see yourself in your career in 5 years?
Managing and coordinating events for prominent independent clients, luxury hotels and cruise liners. If you top on another 5 years, I’d like to focus on cultural policy and be the next Minister of Arts and Culture in my homeland or be in a similar position, high enough to effect change and give direction to the local Arts and Entertainment industry with the aim of making it more self sufficient.

Have you attended a Startup Weekend before?
My first encounter with Startup Weekend was as a curious attendee in November 2014. I fell in love with the cause, its mission and and the community so much that I immediately reached out to the Organizer thereafter and told them that I wanted to be a part of the team for the next one. My professional expertise then was in Grant Writing so that’s where the team utilized me and we produced a spectacular Startup Weekend event themed for Social Enterprises in June 2015. I worked remotely giving assistance to two other Startup Weekend teams thereafter and recently attended the Bloomington Indiana Startup Weekend.

If so, what did you enjoy about your Startup Weekend experience?
As an attendee, several features stood out to me most with the Startup Weekend experience. Besides the food, of course, the adrenaline rush, the insane networking and the ability to complete a project that would usually take average 6 months and more for the mediocre procrastinator took us only 54 hours. And, the end product of the weekend was AMAZING! People had websites built – functional and live – others had 3D renditions of prototypes and of course there were apps built as well – no Startup Weekend is ever complete without an app idea as the origins of the event was based on innovation within the tech space.

What can individuals expect at Startup Weekend Chicago?
Great food, great networking opportunities, a mix of people who may be just right to help you get your idea from thought to reality, and an intense work filled but fun weekend.

Why should people attend Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition?
We share a vision and desire to help grow the creative industry. There’s more to the creative industry than just dance or music or visual art. We want YOU to be a forerunner, come with your ideas for ways to expand the innovation in our creative space. Whether it be a karoke app, a tool to help designers stitch clothes in half the time, software to boost DJ productivity and output or a service which makes booking venues easier for event managers.

What advice do you have for someone that wants to make their creative business idea/dream a reality?
Don’t be afraid to pitch! Yes pitching can be scary but its worth it!
Startup Weekend provides a safe space to explore your idea, and work with people who have the skill set you don’t readily possess who will help you flesh out the idea, solidify it and turn it into a reality. Be flexible and open minded. Don’t be so tied to your idea that you stifle its potential for growth.

Find out more about us! Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Purchase tickets here.

Make Your Move!

Make your move. Sign up for Startup Weekend Evansville! Stop sitting around and start making things happen. Here are ten reasons why it is worth your while to spend the weekend with us, here at Startup Weekend Evansville.

  1. It’s all about connections: Entrepreneurs. Developers. Designers. Marketers. Product managers. Startup enthusiasts. Tech guys. Ideators. They’ll be there, and they want to meet you. Startup Weekend is more than just a place to give your idea wings—it’s a place to plug into a community of talent. Startup Weekend attracts the best makers and doers . By spending 54 hours working to build scalable companies that solve real world problems, you will build long lasting relationships and possibly walk away with a job or even an investor.
  1. Actually launch a Startup Company: Think, conceive and deliver a product/service over a weekend. It’s just the energy in the Startup Weekend environment that makes you super-productive. Make your dreams a reality. It is the epitome of Lean Startup Methodology. According to the data collected by official organizers, roughly 80% of participants plan on continuing working with their team or startup after the weekend.
  1. Get face time with thought leaders: Get one-on–one time with the movers and shakers in your community. Local educators, tech, entrepreneurs, and startup leaders participate in Startup Weekends as mentors and judges. Our judging panel and mentor board is made of CEOs, COOs, Developers, Angels, Directors, Entrepreneurs, and others. Get some time with the startup leaders in the community, explore your opportunities and learn the game from the best players.
  1. Join a global community: Startup Weekend alumni span across several continents and scores of cities. Join a global network of over 275,000 alumni, all having the haunting entrepreneurial mindset. Step outside of your comfort zone, because Startup Weekends are your perfect opportunity to explore yourself.
  1. Co-founder dating: Startups are about more than just an idea -it’s about the team behind it. Startup Weekend is the best way to find someone that you can actually launch a startup with. The people who come to Startup Weekend are serious about learning how to build and launch startups. Create relationships that last long past the weekend. If you have a prospective co-founder, bring ‘em to the event and give the working relationship a test drive. It might save you years of heartache.
  1. As we live, so we learn: Startup Weekends are all about learning through the art of creating. You do not need to stay in ages-long and boring lecture sessions or to read dozens of outdated theories. Build your own strategy and test it as you go. With a whole weekend dedicated to letting your creative juices flow, Startup Weekends are perfect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language, or give marketing a try.
  1. Get access to Startup Resources and Save Money: By participating in Startup Weekend you are given instant access to great products and tools. No one leaves Startup Weekend empty handed! Moreover, Startup Weekends are affordable. Your ticket includes all meals, snacks and access to an awesome set of mentors. Join us for the Startup Weekend that is fully loaded with facilities and chase your dreams to reality in a 54 hour long frenzy.
  1. Less talk, more action: Startup Weekend is fast. The weekend is not some long, drawn-out business plan that will bore your team to sleep. This is fast paced, get ideas on the table, get them in production, see if they stick, and move on to the next task. Find out what you excel at in 54 hours. Spend the weekend perfecting your networking, pitching, brainstorming ideas and experience energy like never before.
  1. Solve local problems with your ideas: Do you think that one of your ideas can change your town or have a positive impact in your group of people? Bring your idea notebook with you and start making a positive change in your local community.
  1. Have tons of fun: So register now and book your ticket to ensure an awesome weekend at Startup Weekend Evansville.

What is Startup Weekend, Anyway?

When I signed up for Startup Weekend last year, my mom asked, “What is Startup Weekend, anyway?” My reply was, “Eh, I’m not really sure, but I’ll find out!” I didn’t know what I was getting into at the time, but I would soon discover what this hectic weekend is all about.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event that brings together developers, designers, visionaries, marketing gurus, business managers, artists, and pretty much everyone in-between. Many people come to Startup Weekend with an idea to pitch to the crowd of participants. Then everyone votes to decide which ideas will be worked on during the weekend. They form teams around the winning pitches based on their skills and passions. The teams work for hours on end, going through endless pots of coffee, to build their new startup company from the ground up. After designing, prototyping, building and testing their company, teams present their work on Sunday night to a panel of judges in a five minute presentation, as though pitching to potential investors.

Uffda! Long weekend, right? It was the longest weekend of my life – small exaggeration. Yet one year later I’m coming back. I’m excited to tell newcomers about the cool things we did that weekend, all the things I learned, and how proud I am of my Startup Weekend team today.

You might be asking yourself, “What cool things can I experience at Startup Weekend?” Well, I learned all about what it means to start a new business. All the work that goes into putting together a website, designing the content, and picking the colors takes a lot of teamwork. I learned how to work with a team toward a common goal. I learned how to find something I’m good at in an unfamiliar field, and contribute what I can.

When we pitch we practice overcoming anxiety so we can share ideas we’re passionate about. We learn how to work in teams with very different people, and rely on others when we don’t have the skills. I learned a lot of invigorating things at Startup Weekend, but most importantly, I made connections with some really amazing people in my community. I had conversations with fascinating people about their ideas and passions. You get the idea — there are a lot of exciting things to experience at Startup Weekend!

If you’re wondering whether Startup Weekend is for you, it was for me – and I’m a student with a biology major. So sign up, take a risk, and have a wonderful experience! 

The next Startup Weekend is March 3-5, just one month away! For details and tickets, visit www.up.co/communities/usa/fargo/startup-weekend/9626

Get Creative. Start a Business! Startup Weekend in Marion Indiana

March 31 – April 2, 2017,  in Marion IN, therefinerycenter.com will host Startup Weekend, a worldwide group of events to bring people together to make ideas become reality and start business up.

Have you ever thought, “That would be a good business idea.” Have you ever wanted to start a company and work with other people to do something new? Do you want to see and experience what it looks like to go from Idea to Business? If so, Startup Weekend is for you.marion-indiana



What to Expect as a Mentor to Students

If this is your first Youth Startup Weekend as a mentor, you might be wondering how the structure works and what the role expectations are when you’re here!

Rest easy, dear friends, because here we are with a brief guide on what to expect, tips on being an impactful mentor and an overview of what the weekend entails.

Before we get down to the nitty gritty, I’d like you to envision an adult that had a significant impact on your childhood, an idol or someone who simply inspired you along the road to where you are now. Your role, at its very core, is to channel that person and be that for these students. On top of having an understanding of the startup world and your selected area of expertise, you are a “grown-up” that is showing them that they matter simply by showing up. Showing them you believe in them with your attendance speaks volumes. So… go you!

The Schedule

If you refer to the event schedule, you will have a great overview of what will be going on. So I’ll simply be delving into what to expect during that schedule.


  • Students are meeting each other, and participating in a rapid- fire pitch session. They are asked to come with no pre-existing businesses (in fact there are rules in place that they are not allowed to come with something already created). They present a problem they see, a suggested solution and the type of team they need.
  • Students vote with sticky notes for the top 10 ideas (number changes based on head count… max team size is 7). Mentors are asked to circulate the room, ask questions and help assist in forming the team. Make sure the teams aren’t forming because they’re all friends, but because they can work together. 
  • Teams are solidified, and everyone goes home!


This is mostly a heads- down day. We are getting team tshirts donated from Brand X, so the teams are asked to create a company logo before working on anything else so we can send the logos over and get everything printed before their final presentations. Deadline is 11am.

  • Mentors meet before the students come in to go over the existing teams.
  • When students show up, we do a quick and easy tutorial on how to utilize scrum boards. The purpose of these are not only to keep the students on track and organized, but to let mentors know what they are working on and how they might be able to help
  • In the afternoon there is a new round of mentors that comes in, and there is a mentor huddle where mentors can speak to what their team might need and help figure out who else can come in and assist
  • **It’s important to note that one of the most helpful things to do while mentoring is try to stick with your team for a good chunk of your time. This helps build trust, and they typically will ask for more guidance when they feel comfortable with you. We don’t place mentors with teams, but feel free to circulate and find the right fit.


  • Mentors help with refining the business model and helping them with their pitches
  • Some students were finished a bit early, but it was really easy to tell who had spent a good chunk of time practicing and who didn’t. This time around I encourage mentors to help not only with the practicing but to give some practice judge questions!
  • Students pitch to the judges, ultimately there is one prize!

How to be an Impactful Mentor

  • Don’t tell your team what to do or take control. Yeah, that’s super hard when you know the ‘right’ answer but this is their time to explore different options
  • Use intentional question- asking to lead them to conclusions. If they ask you what to do, try leading them to an answer through questions. They should be solving problems and using you as a resource, not getting all of the answer from you
  • These students are bright and wildly intelligent and they’re entrepreneurs right now! Talk to them like adults, not 5-year-olds
  • That said, don’t be a jerk and crush dreams.
  • Look at scrum boards, ask how the teams are doing and listen. “We’re great” is the answer all of us feel naturally inclined to give. Understand that through direct and pointed questions you can get somewhere
  • Ask the other mentors in the group how you can help

Hard and fast rule

  • You cannot, at any point in time, hang out alone with a student. Not for an interview, podcast, photo op, or 1on1 discussion. There are huge issues with that and we’ll all (including you) be in a WORLD of trouble. They’re wicked smart, but still youth.
  • Never ever utter the words “that isn’t possible.” Ever. Never.
  • Never.
  • Not even once.

We are SO excited to have you as a mentor, and can’t wait for you to see these future change-makers and feel the amazing sigh of relief that our future is resting in some remarkably compassionate, intelligent hands.