Why Startup Weekend Pittsburgh is Supporting 412 Food Rescue: By The Numbers

As one of the proud community leaders of Startup Weekend Pittsburgh, I believe that our events bring out the best in our community. We’re the ones who teach others to stand at the edge and leap head-on into the unknown. We encourage people to listen to our city’s problems, create solutions, and iterate them if they don’t work out.

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We’re the ones who create a community that’s “No Talk. All Action.” 

However, I think we sometimes get a little caught up in the glory of the startup world and forget about the pressing needs that are surround us at all times. Pittsburgh’s certainly a city on the rise, but it’s a city with a lot of work to do as well.

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Perhaps most pressing of all is the problem of hunger. That’s why, with the support of The Brazen Kitchen and The Free Store, we’re hosting a benefit called Summer Harvest.

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All proceeds go entirely to 412 Food Rescue, a non-profit initiative to reuse unsellable food and convert them into healthy, delicious meals for our community’s hungry. The event will take place at The Livermore in East Liberty on July 25th from 7pm to midnight.

Here are 7 figures that motivate our entrepreneurial efforts to curb this very serious problem (facts and figures mostly extracted from Feeding America):

14.4%

That’s the percent of people who live in Allegheny County who are “food insecure,” or are unable to feed themselves adequately. That seems small, but here’s another number.

176,360

The number of people who are food insecure in Allegheny County. You could almost fill Heinz Stadium three times over with that many people.

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Among them…

43,090

How many children are food insecure in Allegheny County. That’s greater than the capacity of PNC Park.

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$2.86

How much an average healthy meal costs in our region.

$89,223,000

How much it would cost to eradicate hunger in Allegheny County every year.

$20

The price of a ticket to the Summer Harvest. Using 412 Food Rescue’s efficient, ecological approach, each person who attends this will be able to feed a family of suffering from hunger for an entire week.

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1

The number of people it takes to make a difference.

As an entrepreneur and a community organizer, I am convinced of the power of a single individual to make a huge difference in their community. This is not idealism – such impacts happen all the time. After all…

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/john-lennons-song-imagine-now-in-a-comic-strip/15342163
Source. Credit to Pablo Stanley.

To get your tickets to Summer Harvest, follow this link: summerharvestpgh.eventbrite.com. Get them before 7/20 and save 20%!

If you’d also like to sponsor or donate, please contact me at lee.ngo@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!

Lee Ngo is a community leader based in Pittsburgh, PA.








Startup Weekend DC Impact

I fell in love with social business during my final semester as an undergrad at Georgetown University. During my social entrepreneurship class, I learned about how Bill Drayton pioneered the field, and how Muhammad Yunus’ work at Grameen Bank impacted millions of impoverished lives – the whole concept really clicked with me.

Flash forward to over two years later, and not only am I helping organize Startup Weekends in Washington, DC, but I’m also co-founder of a social business called MARK, where we are building tools to bring philanthropic giving to the 21st century.

Both organizing Startup Weekend and building MARK are really fresh and new experiences for me this year, and I’m so happy to be doing both because I’m putting my time into things I’m passionate about. Not only that, but the people I have met since I dove into the startup world in DC are incredible, and I feel inspired to continue on my current path because of their support and encouragement. These new experiences have challenged me to work harder and smarter than I ever have.

From June 12-14, those worlds collided at Impact Hub DC for the district’s first ever Social Impact edition of Startup Weekend. From my perspective, this was the perfect storm of meeting fellow social entrepreneurs, learning all kinds of lessons to share with my team at MARK, and having a lot of fun in the process.

MIssion accomplished!

Among the highlights from the weekend were an energetic round of “half-baked” startup pitches on Friday night (can’t wait for Unicorn Peanut Butter to hit the shelves), a star-studded lineup of mentors who shared insights and advice with the participants on Saturday, and a packed house on Sunday evening for 13 impact-laden pitches from our amazing teams.

When the last pitch was made and our judges returned the verdict, our top three winners celebrated their hours of hard work, and soaked in the applause from the crowd.

1st Place: Surplus Kitchen – provides food for the hungry by picking up your leftovers and delivering it to food pantries and soup kitchens in your community.

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2nd Place: Resilient – a platform for victims of sexual abuse to identify offenders and find support in a safe community.

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3rd Place: My Request – helps consumers find business services on demand by connecting them with skilled workers

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A big thank you to our event sponsors Impact Hub DC who provided free workspace for our winners as well as General Assembly, who provided free credits to the top 3 teams!

Special thanks to our judges: Kate Ahern, Amelia Friedman, Mark Newberg, and Nasir Qadree

Their unique experiences in building impact business was appreciated by the teams who left with tangible recommendations of how to continue building post the weekend.

As a first-time organizer, this could not have been a better edition of Startup Weekend for me to get involved with. My interest in social enterprise was sparked by a great class in college,  but the Social Impact edition of Startup Weekend along with my work at MARK keeps the fire burning strong today!

Thank you to the participants, mentors, judges, and fellow organizers who made this past weekend such a smashing success.








You Come to DC to Change the World

On July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, PA, Thomas Jefferson and some of his buddies, including Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and others, signed a parchment to found a new country, declaring their spin-off as a new entity wholly separate from its parent, Britain. These men came from different walks of life – ranging from lawyers and doctors to businessmen and inventors – and they hustled, strategized, and innovated passionately on a startup that became the United States of America. It’s not common to think of these men as entrepreneurs, but they are quintessential examples.

Washington DC has been and continues to be home to people who have both the desire and capability to change the world.  When big problems need to be solved with the big levers of governments and institutions, you find the nexus of power and people here, in the District of Columbia.  Not only the seat of the US government, Washington is the home to the World Bank and other international development banks, the IMF, and some of the most significant and influential non-profit and double bottom-line organizations in the world, as well as countless advocacy and non-government organizations seeking to make change.

That change can sometimes be slow, messy and difficult.  The institutions of Washington are complete with large bureaucracies that are sometimes allergic to innovation and bogged down in red tape, so those from Washington sometimes get painted with the same brush.  But under the hood, there’s much more to Washington than the apparent bureaucracy. Washington DC has a vibrant startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem that is growing by leaps and bounds, driven by highly-educated and motivated technologists.

Imagine what could happen if we merge these mostly separate and independent ecosystems? What if we could bring together a motivated group of people with skills and experience in policy, business, design, development, and entrepreneurship, with a common passion to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the world? The possibilities are endless.

We’ve been observing the lay of the land and see the time is ripe to plant and incubate seeds of ideas and mentorship to harvest new fruit and engage a community hungry for change. We saw a potent concoction waiting to happen, that may make a lasting impact on the world and create something special that no regular Startup Weekend could inspire.

We are doing this because we realize how hard it can be to simply start and get connected to other changemakers. But more importantly- We, the Startup Weekend DC organizers, come from such said separate and independent ecosystems sparking change. Together we are seizing the opportunity to break barriers to help others get started and connected.

Through the Social Impact Edition, changemakers in Washington DC will finally have an opportunity to come together to learn new ways to solve problems, rapidly test, validate, and execute concepts, and launch companies with a social impact component. They’ll also be able to tap into a vast amount of resources, such as mentors who are Presidential Innovation Fellows and impact investors such as Village Capital. This Startup Weekend can be the catalyst for true innovation to make the world a better place and build excitement to do so.

It’s time for the rise of the impact entrepreneur, and there’s no better place than Washington DC and no better time than now.

 








My First Startup Weekend

Last September, I had one of the best weekends of my entire year.  Rather than my standard mix of going out with friends, getting some exercise, and watching sports, I spent the weekend at Georgetown University taking part in Startup Weekend.

No talk. All action. Launch a startup in 54 hours.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the weekend, I just knew that I was excited to meet a bunch of like-minded people and work my tail off all weekend on an amazing idea. This was not a typical weekend for me.

To keep a long story short, my experience at Startup Weekend was phenomenal. I worked on a team named CIMPLY,  which worked on a mobile platform that aims to change the game in corporate giving.

My team was diverse, intelligent, friendly, and came together well in a short period of time. The mentors that came in to speak with us were a big help, and I must have learned more during Startup Weekend than I learned in my previous 5 weekends combined. Most importantly, my entrepreneurial spirit came alive that weekend. The fire in my belly was ignited – I was pumped up.

I’ve been interested in diving into the startup world for a few years. It is an exciting, heart-pounding, and challenging world, where sustained success is hard to come by. Some people may say that you have to be crazy to even try starting your own business.

Well, call me overly optimistic, but I believe you are crazy for not at least trying it out. Also, I believe that if you’re up for the challenge, there’s no better place to test the waters than at a Startup Weekend.

3 Reasons WHY Startup Weekend Rocks as an Intro to Entrepreneurship

  1. Build Your Skillset

Building a startup is a baptism by fire – and whether your business succeeds or fails, you will develop many skills along your journey. Reading books like The Lean Startup by Eric Ries or following bloggers like Andrew Chen are a great start,  but eventually you will need to get to work!

A typical day at Startup Weekend could include building a landing page and meeting with mentors in the morning, followed by designing a prototype and doing customer interviews in the afternoon. Make sure you’re ready to wear a number of different hats!

The skills you accumulate while working for a startup will become very useful, even if you don’t continue to work for a startup. Most importantly, you will gain confidence and competence – two things that employers are always looking for.

  1. Networking. Networking. Networking.

As a business professional, your network can be one of your biggest assets. Entrepreneurs, in particular, must develop robust networks if they plan to succeed.

If you take nothing else away from your Startup Weekend experience, you will make a handful of new connections with whom you worked long, meaningful hours with on a startup idea. You will connect with team members, mentors, judges, organizers and fellow participants through the experience you have together that weekend.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of these people before, during, or after Startup Weekend! Part of our goal is to build a community after the event where we can collaborate with each other on our work. This aspect is a big part of what makes Startup Weekend a unique event.

  1. Make a Lasting Impact

-Steve Jobs

The bottom line is that entrepreneurship gives you an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the world. The ideas in your head could manifest themselves into products or services that the world needs. My question is – what’s holding you back from sharing those ideas? Why not give it a shot?

Our upcoming edition of Startup Weekend DC will focus on business ideas that benefit humanity in some way. We know that this city is filled with changemakers who can’t wait to get their transformative products or services off the ground, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with. Join us May 15-17 at Artisphere in Rosslyn and let’s see how big an impact we can make in one weekend!

Learn more about Startup Weekend DC: Social Impact edition by clicking here.

This post originally appeared on Quarter For Your Crisis, a community which empowers the twenty and thirty-something’s of the world to take control of our lives and start living intentionally.