It was a hot day in Tampa. Craig Chavis was in his MBA program when his passion for travel suddenly hit him with an idea: he wanted to find a way to help locals on the ground better facilitate travel for tourists. He brought his idea to a Tampa Bay Startup Weekend in 2012 and was met with a shock; not only was his goal appealing to many of the members, it was chosen as one of the startup ideas to be developed that weekend.
Chavis was paired with a team of all backgrounds and even got some input from Tampa Bay Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a frequent participant at the event. Not only was it a memorable weekend, it was a conducive one for Chavis: Three of his team members went on to join him in operating his Startup Weekend idea into a full fledged startup called iNomadz.
Chavis credits the Startup Weekend experience to much of his growth as an entrepreneur, especially in the technology space. “Without the first Startup Weekend, I wouldn’t understand what is needed to develop a startup. I ran a t-shirt company and a DJ company but was completely new to technology — terms like front end, back end, MVP weren’t part of my line of thinking.”
After getting his feet wet in the Tampa Bay Startup Weekend experience, Chavis has continued to be a frequent participant in the Weekends — in addition to another weekend in Tampa, he has also participated in a Startup Weekend in DC and another weekend in Birmingham.
Chavis currently runs a startup called Visajump, an application that aims to provide real time tourist visa information in less than 30 seconds from 252 countries, territories and inhabited islands. Not only has he met one of his co-founders through a Startup Weekend, he has used many of the principles in the development of his new startup. As soon as he had the idea for Visajump, he quickly moved to create a clickable prototype without second guessing every part of the process, a skill nurtured in Startup Weekend.
What advice does he have for people doing Startup Weekend for the first time?
“Go with the flow,” Chavis explains. “Whether your idea is selected or whether you are part of a team, enjoy the process. You don’t actually have to be the one pulling all the strings to gain from Startup Weekend — even joining a team and bringing a new perspective to an idea can be a huge win.”
Inspired by Craig’s story? Find a Startup Weekend near you and make some magic: https://startupweekend.org/