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How does an organization like Techstars make a program like Startup Weekend, that is already hyper-inclusive, a safe place to a marginalized group in tech? One approach is by partnering with another organization who does this even better than us.

That’s why we are excited to team up with StartOut to make history as we put on the first ever LGBTQ Startup Weekend. StartOut, a nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to connect LGBTQ entrepreneurs to empower great leaders and businesses, has taken the lead on bringing this event to the Austin, TX community during Pride Month on Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25.

The purpose of this event is to inspire entrepreneurs in the LGBTQIA community to learn the ropes of validating an idea for a startup or lifestyle business and turn that idea into a business venture. While the event is open to the community at large, StartOut has been especially deliberate about making it a safe, welcoming environment for their own community. They’ve also received support from the Lesbians Who Tech chapter in Austin.

In just 54 hours, participants will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup. They’ll learn tangible skills about how to validate an idea, build a team, conduct empathy interviews with potential customers, explore business models, and hopefully even build a functioning app or service. Along the way, they’ll meet some of the very best mentors, investors, and founders who have been there before and are ready to help steer them in the right direction.

While the format of the weekend will be familiar to those that have attended a Startup Weekend before, the team at StartOut has sprinkled in a number of social events, beginning on Thursday with a social gathering at Capital Factory followed by a night on the town. The effort has drawn global attention, and with their sponsorship program they’ve attracted attendees who will be flying in from Lima, Peru and Berlin to participate. Curious startup folks will also be descending on Austin from Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Oakland.

None of this would be possible without the support of local sponsors, including HomeAway, Chariot, Uber, Atlassian, BigCommerce, Keller Williams, Capital Factory, Erin Rose Creative, and Diversity Fund. As well as national support from Lesbians Who Tech, Techstars, and of course StartOut.

If it wasn’t clear already, this inaugural LGBTQ Startup Weekend is going to set the bar high. Tickets are still available and if you’d like to learn more about the event, you can do so here.

Curious about the weekend but unable to attend? Follow #swhackout as budding entrepreneurs, from the LGBTQ community and beyond, take their ideas to new heights.



Jordan Rothenberg Jordan Rothenberg
Jordan is the Manager for Techstars’ community programs including Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Digest and Startup Week in the Central United States region. @jsrothenberg