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.








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.