Our organizing team was recently contacted by Matt Brown, an entrepreneur and Clemson MBA student who attended TSW: Health and is making the trek back to Raleigh for TSW: Women this weekend. He was looking for suggestions of where to stay, and what happened next is the perfect representation of how welcoming and collaborative the Startup Weekend community is. Through a quick stream of email intros, Matt was connected to some local entrepreneurs who live at the ThinkHouse, a residential accelerator for young innovators, and he’ll be crashing with them all weekend. We were thrilled to see the SW community spirit take hold in such a unique way, so we decided to ask Matt a few questions before he hops in his car this afternoon!
Oh and by the way, there’s still time to grab a (discounted) ticket! You’ll meet Matt and other aspiring entrepreneurs all weekend!
TSW: Can you give us a bit of background on the Clemson MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation program and the entrepreneurial climate there?
MB: What I love about the Clemson MBAe program is that it has given me the chance to start my own startup and get an MBA at the same time. The Clemson MBAe program is designed to help would-be entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition, whether by starting your own venture, addressing societal needs via the not-for-profit sector, or within a company. With the Clemson MBAe program based in Greenville, South Carolina we are positioned in the best city for entrepreneurship in South Carolina.
TSW: How does it compare to what’s happening in the Triangle?
MB: Personally, I love what is happening in the Triangle! After experiencing what the Triangle has to offer entrepreneurial wise, I definitely think both Greenville and the Triangle are both on the same track to growing their communities through entrepreneurship.
TSW: How did you originally hear about Triangle Startup Weekend?
MB: I originally heard about Triangle Startup Weekend through some friends who were in The Ironyard Health Accelerator in Spartanburg, SC. My friends had participated in numerous Startup Weekend events, and told me the one coming up in the Triangle would be a great one to attend.
TSW: Why did you decide to attend TSW: Health?
MB: TSW: Health was actually my first Startup Weekend event ever. The reason I decided to attend TSW: Health was to take myself outside of my comfort zone and learn more about entrepreneurship in the health sector. For me, the beauty in doing TSW: Health was that I was able to learn so much about the health industry, and how entrepreneurship can make an impact.
TSW: Did you participate on a team during TSW: Health? Have you stayed in touch with the people you worked with?
MB: Participating in TSW: Health was by far one of the best decisions I have ever made! Ever since my TSW: Health experience, not a week has gone by that I have not spoken to someone from that weekend. Sometimes when I get a great idea for a business, I give one of them a call to get their feedback.
TSW: Being an out-of-towner and first-time attendee at TSW was probably a bit intimidating. Can you tell us what that experience was like?
MB: Deciding to attend TSW: Health was a big step outside of my comfort zone. Originally, I thought I needed to have a background in the health industry to participate, but once I got there I found that was not the case. In actuality, anyone can participate in TSW: Health, for the event is all about the relationships and bonds you foster over the weekend.
TSW: How did you hear about TSW: Women in Raleigh?
MB: The way I heard about TSW: Women in Raleigh was through some friends I made at TSW: Health. All of them were signed up to do TSW: Women in Raleigh, and they really motivated me to sign up. Also, what makes this startup weekend so special is that the goal of this event is to encourage more women to come out and help close the gender gap in the startup community.
TSW: This time, you’ll be couch-surfing at the ThinkHouse, a living and learning environment for young entrepreneurs. What are you most looking forward to about that experience?
MB: In couch-surfing at the ThinkHouse I am excited to see this residential accelerator in person. Currently, there is nothing like this in Greenville, so I have never seen anything like it before. Also, I honestly cannot wait to meet the members of the house and learn more about what they are working on. If it were up to me, I would put something like the ThinkHouse in every city possible, for I think it is great for entrepreneurs!
TSW: You’re making a drive to attend the event, so there obviously must be great value in attending. What’s most valuable about TSW for you? Why should others attend?
MB: The drive to attend the event is a 3 plus hour drive. Regardless how long the drive is for me I am excited to be around fellow like-minded entrepreneurs. For the value in attending events like this is unmeasureable. No matter the distance, I think other should try to attend Startup Weekend events because you never know what you can learn or who you will meet.
We can’t wait to meet Matt and all of the other participants when TSW: Women kicks off tonight! Use code “TSWsupporter” for 20% off and make sure to stay tuned for a follow-up interview with Matt after the weekend comes to a close.
With Triangle Startup Weekend: Women quickly approaching, you may still be wondering whether or not you should purchase that ticket. Perhaps you haven’t bought one because you’re not sure exactly what the event entails. Maybe you worry the $99 ticket price isn’t worth it (we have a discount code, by the way). Or maybe you’re just incredibly busy and “accidentally” deleted our registration reminders.
Whatever it is that has kept you from signing up thus far, we think we have a pretty strong argument to get you there. We spoke with TSW: Health participant, Amal Essader, about what motivated her to buy her first-ever ticket to a Startup Weekend, and why she’s so glad she did.
Amal learned about TSW: Health from some colleagues of hers who were on the organizing team.
Triangle Startup Weekend: Beyond a nudge from your friends on the planning team, why did you decide to participate in TSW?
Amal Essader: It sounded like a challenging and fun activity where I could network with other highly energetic people who are on a mission to innovate and improve our lives.
TSW: What team did you work with and what was your role?
AE: I worked with “Aura,” a team looking to provide natural therapies to women. My role was to help gather customer feedback; I called friends and family, spoke with pharmacists, and interviewed passersby throughout the weekend. I also worked with the team on strategic planning.
She found the collaboration and opportunity to explore new skill sets to be incredibly rewarding.
TSW: What was the most valuable part of the weekend for you?
AE: I walked into the unknown and worked on a completely new idea with a team of people I had never met before. That could have been really scary, but we all united around the same goal: to make this experience the best one and to advance our idea to the next level. The weekend also allowed me to unlock some talents and skills I didn’t know I had or didn’t know I could use.
TSW: How did you feel before, during, and after the event?
AE: I was excited and nervous before the event, as I wasn’t sure what to expect exactly, but was looking forward to it.
During the event, I felt like I was a part of a new family. My team members and the TSW coaches and staff were encouraging and enabled us to think outside the box and take our thoughts and ideas to the next level. I have to admit, it kept my adrenaline pumping and that felt GREAT!
After the event, I was definitely tired, but it was a bittersweet feeling. I felt really good knowing that I helped someone take their idea to the next level and I didn’t want the event to end! Overall, it was really exciting being an event where the room was vibrating with energy.
TSW: Some folks might be intimidated by working with new people for a whole weekend. How do you work with a group of people you don’t know for 54-hours straight?
AE: How could you not?? Isn’t that what you do when you embark on a new job and have tight timelines for a critical project? To me personally, this was the highlight of the event. This is how you learn from others and challenge yourself to see and accept ideas from a different perspective.
TSW: So, did attending the weekend give you a better understanding of what startups can be?
AE: You bet it did! It’s one thing to plan or discuss ideas in a classroom setting, but it’s another thing to experience it LIVE! The TSW event is the perfect place to try your idea and to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone to learn about problems and solutions you never thought of before.
Amal also shared some great insight on how to prepare for the weekend, and encourages first-timers to challenge themselves beyond the norm.
TSW: If someone could have given you one piece of advice before the weekend, what would you have liked to know?
AE: Go into this event with an open mind and be prepared to think outside of the box. My advice to future TSW participants, especially the first-timers, is that you are a valuable team member. Your skills are valued regardless of what they are. Crazy ideas can be the winning ideas, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts…and HAVE FUN!
TSW: So, let’s hear it: Why do you think someone should sign up for TSW: Women?
AE: It’s a chance to meet new people, learn new perspectives, gain insights, be part of a solution, and help others see their idea to fruition. Everyone should challenge their status quo and get out of their comfort zone to experience something new and different. Think of TSW events as a big generator: ideas are generated, the room is vibrating with energy, coaches and volunteers are constantly looking after your best interest, and everyone has a critical role to keep the “generator” going. Most importantly, everyone is enjoying their time.
We hope you’ll join us this Friday through Sunday (10/10-10/12) for an energizing weekend full of new ideas, new learning experiences, and new friends. And if you need just a bit more convincing, use code “TSWsupporter” for 20% off tickets.
See you there!