SendGrid Becomes Newest Startup Weekend Global Sponsor

We’re super excited to announce that SendGrid has joined the Startup Weekend family as our newest global sponsor to help us foster startup communities around the world!

A Startup Story…

After graduating from the Techstars program in Boulder, CO, in 2009, SendGrid has grown its team to over 70 employees (as of Jan 2012) and sends billions of emails every month for tens of thousands of customers, including Foursquare, Hootsuite, Pinterist, Spotify and others. All along, SendGrid has been helpful to its fellow startups. And now, through their support of Startup Weekend, they plan to extend that helping hand even further.

So, what is SendGrid?

SendGrid is a cloud-based email infrastructure service. They help companies improve their customer communications by increasing email deliverability, reporting email metrics, offering dynamic scalability and providing tools for flexible and custom email integrations.

SendGrid makes it easy for developers to add email-based features into their applications. Integration is quick and simple via SMTP or API. Whether you’re sending transactional emails (automated welcome messages, notifications, password reminders) or a newsletter to announce a launch or feature release, SendGrid can help. They even have an API that lets your app accept email from your users, so you can create deeper engagement and a richer customer experience while utilizing the simplicity and universal familiarity of email.

SendGrid allows your team to focus on your product and your strengths, while they make sure the email keeps on flowin’.

A Special offer from SendGrid to all Startup Weekenders

As part of their global sponsorship, SendGrid will help the Startup Weekend community even further by offering their Bronze plan for free for 3 months to all Startup Weekend attendees in 2012.

Startup Weekend is very happy to welcome SendGrid as our newest Global Sponsor!  We look forward to leveraging our common interests to continue building and educating startup communities around the world.

“We love Startup Weekend for the opportunities it provides to aspiring entrepreneurs and the community it builds throughout the world. We’re glad that our service can help startups succeed by making it easy and affordable for developers to build email into their apps. Through our global sponsorship in 2012, we’ll be more involved than ever in the worldwide startup magic that is Startup Weekend…which is awesome.” – Tim Falls, Community Guy @SendGrid

“We are extremely excited to have SendGrid on board as a global sponsor; they understand the challenges startups face.  SendGrid has already supported Startup Weekend events in dozens of cities around the world and we’re very happy to work with them to support entrepreneurs at all of our events this year!” – Joey Pomerenke, Chief Marketing Officer @StartupWeekend

Click here for more information about SendGrid.








SW-Born CloudMine is Now a Startup Weekend Global Sponsor

Startup Weekend is thrilled to welcome an alumni as our newest Global Sponsor!  CloudMine, a startup born at Startup Weekend Philly in February 2011, has come full circle and is now offering their support and services to the entire Startup Weekend community.

Born at Startup Weekend
CloudMine co-founders Brendan McCorkle and Marc Weil met at what was each their first Startup Weekend.  On that Friday night, Brendan pitched an idea related to consumer data backup for mobile phones, and although the pitch received lots of votes, there wasn’t a developer on the team to start building the team’s vision. Despite the lack of technical work, Marc, who had worked with another team, was still intrigued by the idea.  Although they were strangers before SW Philly, once they started working, Brendan and Marc realized they had a shared vision, complementary skills (business and tech), and both had previous entrepreneurial experience.  They decided to work together on what would become CloudMine.

What is CloudMine?
CloudMine is a platform that eliminates the need for mobile app developers to build custom backend solutions for their mobile apps. It provides out-of-the-box all of the services that developers typically build themselves server-side so they can focus on getting their apps to market faster and for significantly less money.

Giving Back During Startup Weekend and Beyond
The Startup Weekend community has played a big role in CloudMine’s journey.  From co-founders who met at SW Philly in February 2011 to the public beta launch at SW Philly in October, and beyond, the CloudMine team (which also includes fellow co-founder Ilya Braude) is committed to supporting and engaging with the Startup Weekend community.  From attending events in person and offering monetary and in-kind services, to serving as impromptu mentors, the CloudMine team is all about giving back.

To learn more about CloudMine, click here.








Applications Close Jan 31 for Rockstar Accelerator: Apply Now!

Rockstart Accelerator is a new program that helps the most promising teams from around the world to launch their startups and break through on a global scale.

They provide up to $20.000 in seed investment, 100-day intensive program, 6-months of office space in Amsterdam, 99 mentors, coaching by entrepreneurs in residence and a 3-week road-trip to Silicon Valley. In the US, startups will meet serial entrepreneurs, pitch to investors and VCs, visit 500startups’ hub and co-work at Google campus for several days.
Applications close on Jan 31st at 23:59 CET – so if you are a promising startup that can do with a hand to break through on a worldwide scale, APPLY NOW (www.rockstart.com/accelerator)

Program highlights

·         6 month program split into 2 x 100 days
·         25 day roadtrip to Silicon Valley
·         Up to €15.000 in seed investment, € 70.000+ in sponsorship, cloud-hosting and free software.
·         99+ mentors from around the globe (CTO Amazon.com; Werner Vogels, CTO Flipboard, Arthur van Hoff and author of Running Lean; Ash Maurya)

Important dates

·         31 Jan 2012 Applications Close
·         13 feb 2012 Teams Notified
·         23 Mar 2012 Program Start
·         15 Jun 2012 Demo Day
·         16 Jun 2012 Start After Program
·         03 Sep 2012 Rockstart Road Trip








Applications Open Through Feb 6th for SXSW Startup Competition HATCH

HATCH is a pitch competition for startups with revolutionary ideas.  Fifteen finalists will be selected to present their business plans to a panel of corporate, angel, and venture investor judges in front of a well-connected audience at the SXSW 2012 Startup Village on March 11th, 2012 in Austin, TX.

If your early-stage tech startup has interesting or disruptive product and strong growth potential, HATCH is for you. Register with HATCH and submit your application today.

Program Highlights

  • Pitch at SXSW – Finalists will have 4 minutes to pitch their revolutionary startup to a panel of experts and an influential audience. They will also field probing questions from judges on their product, market, business model, and more.
  • Coaching – An experienced coach will provide one-on-one mentoring to selected participants prior to SXSW, assisting finalists in preparing for the competition.
  • Education – Each finalist will receive access to online education to assist them in hatching their business plans and ensuring the best possible presentation at SXSW.

Key Dates and Milestones

  • February 6 – Applications Due
  • Mid February – Finalists Selected
  • Mid February – One-on-one coaching and educational webinars begin
  • March 11 – Pitch competition at SXSW in Austin, TX

Reasons To Apply

  • Focused exposure to investors and industry leaders as part of the judging & coaching process.
  • Exposure to the tech savvy SXSW audience at an official SXSW event.
  • Photo and interview opportunities with the attending press.
  • Outstanding prizes.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to compete in HATCH, finalists must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • A company’s product / service must have launched no earlier than March, 13, 2011.
  • A company’s product / service must not be launched after June 13, 2012.
  • Companies will be allowed to submit only one product / service to HATCH. Companies who submit more than one product / service will not be eligible to participate.
  • Founders of the applying startup must retain some portion of ownership in the company to be eligible to participate.
  • Must not have raised over five million in funds from combined funding sources.
  • The presenter must actively participate in the educational and coaching components of HATCH.
  • The presenter must have a SXSW Interactive, Gold, or Platinum badge and be in attendance at check-in time on March 11, 2012 at the event venue in Austin, TX.







Startup Weekend Partners with New Microsoft BizSpark Plus Program

Startup Weekend is constantly looking for ways to give early-stage entrepreneurs access to the tools they need to launch innovative and disruptive startups.  That’s why we’re really excited about a new initiative that Microsoft just announced: Microsoft BizSpark Plus Program.

For more information on the Microsoft BizSpark Plus Program, please see below (article courtesy of the BizSpark Group Blog).

Today the BizSpark team is pleased to announce BizSpark Plus, an extension of the Microsoft BizSpark Program. BizSpark Plus will provide exceptional Microsoft offers to high-potential startups through a global network of BizSpark Plus Partners selected from leading incubators and accelerators.

BizSpark Plus Partners are chosen from local markets based on their track record of attracting and working with world-class startups. Here are just of few partners who have already joined as BizSpark Plus Partners:

  • Techstars (Global)
  • Startup Weekend (Global)
  • SeedCamp (Global)
  • Founder Institute (Global)
  • Fumec (Global)
  • Springboard (UK)
  • TechCity (UK)
  • Eura Technologies (France)
  • DojoBoost (France)
  • Cietec (Brazil)

There will be several offers from Microsoft through this program, the first being  Windows Azure for BizSpark Plus, that allows our partners to provide up to $60,000 of Windows Azure compute and storage per startup over two years.

Our goal is to help startups grow their business and by offsetting startups’ cloud computing costs, this enables startups to spend time and money elsewhere – focusing on solving their business challenges, learning from their users, hiring more developers, investing in marketing and promoting their business or getting new customers.

Over time, we will be extending additional offers through our BizSpark Plus Partners. For more information about the program, visit http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/plus.








When Doves Cry and Other Startup (Weekend Education) Lessons Learned

by Khalid Smith, Education Leader Startup Weekend

I’m at an amazing conference where teachers and principals are all having conversations about how to be more innovative educators.  I’m in discussions about how to turn classrooms into learning spaces, how to think about “discipline” as another way that you reinforce the teaching philosophy, and learning the latest techniques to measure your importance to your social network – all against the backdrop of this amazing high school where the proof is right in front of you because the conference is run by the students.  I’m hearing principals introduce “radical” notions of how they want their teachers and students to “fail faster” and watching the looks of horror in the audience slowly turn to recognition.  As the Education Leader of Startup Weekend Education, I’m excited to be here.  I am proud to be part of an organization that kicks-off startups, kick-starts communities, and kicks the entrepreneurially curious in the behind.  I’m here mixing and mingling and learning and hoping to connect with innovative reform-minded teachers that might be interested in attending or organizing a Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU) event in their community.  But something is amiss.

Judging from the looks I’ve gotten from this special breed of teacher that attends conferences like EduCon, here my friend, blogger Audrey Watters has achieved the status of E.F. Hutton or Alan Greenspan.  Here a mere sigh of her disapproval moves public opinion and defines heroes, villains, goats and victims in the world of Ed-Innovation.  She and I hugged and had a great chat this morning.  I still love her, I do.  I know you can only be heartbroken when you’ve first given your heart to something.  But her comments the day before this conference have cast SWEDU and me as now being aligned with the enemy.

My last encounter with a very tech savvy teacher weighs heavily on my mind.  She had a particularly great comment in the discussion and I approached her afterwards and saw her face change from cordiality, to curiosity, to recognition to disdain in our 10-second encounter.  I opened my laptop to take notes and four key takeaways took shape:

Lesson #1) BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: Audrey’s piece is here.  It’s not particularly rough.  I don’t dispute the facts.  In it she simply expresses her sadness and concerns and doubts about the direction of SWEDU.

In the weeks leading to the partnership with Pearson, Audrey was among the voices I sought for consultation.  Her advice was honest and wise and hasn’t changed. As we approached announcing the new relationship with Pearson, I pitched Audrey the opportunity to interview my Pearson counterpart and me together.   I looked at it like a couple seeking marriage counseling as they entered into a relationship.  I thought her the ideal foil to ask the hard, objective questions a new couple may be too polite or inexperienced to discuss by themselves.  She did and concluded her piece by editorializing her sadness.

The lesson here is, although I’d invited the attention, I wasn’t adequately prepared when it arrived a little differently than I expected.   It’s been 72 long hours while I formulated this response.  This weekend I saw how many educators read Audrey’s latest critique of SWEDU as their cliff-notes to the state of EdTech reform without familiarizing themselves with so much of her previous praise.   I’d lost the opportunity to introduce myself, to extend the SWEDU brand and establish commonality of purpose with passionate, reform-minded educators. I’d also missed my opportunity to explain myself – to show how Audrey and I both care deeply about getting more innovation into education.  We just have different ideas about the best ways to enable that.   I didn’t get to explain that I don’t subscribe to the belief that education reform is a win-lose game where, in order for innovation to be unleashed, the establishment must be upended.  I didn’t get to make the larger point that what I do know is that education reform faces some major obstacles.   In order to overcome those challenges, our community of startups needs to acquire some resources that are beyond our control.

Lesson #2) BE WILLING TO LEARN IN PUBLIC.  One of the most powerful ideas I will take away from EduCon is how teachers can build an incredible culture of learning when they get off their pedestal as the authoritarian and become the model learner in the classroom.  (I’m sure this is no secret to all you blogger/author/consultants out there). Embracing this first lesson helped me turn a lot of unproductive energy I wanted to spend on defending my integrity or attempting to win a debate into a very liberating admittance of what we’ve said all along.  Startup Weekend Education is a startup.  As the leader, my job is to #1 have a compelling vision, #2 ascribe to a set of values and principles that guide my strategic choices, and #3 constantly experiment and help this organization learn its way toward sustainably delivering the vision.  Startup Weekend Education is about building entrepreneurial teams, companies and communities that make meaningful advances in the way people teach and learn.  The community makes it happen, my role is to coach, to be a model learner, empathetic advocate and create the conditions where curiosity leads to inquiry and then to growth. In keeping with that, the response I choose in this moment of crisis is to use it as a moment to reinforce my own pedagogical philosophy – admit my commonality with those I lead, share a little about what choices led me to this point and, hopefully, learn something in the process.

 

Lesson #3) FOCUS ON SOLVING SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS IN BIG MARKETS

The customers of Startup Weekend Education are entrepreneurs, education domain experts, developers and designers.  My job starts with asking “What problem can Startup Weekend Education solve for them better than any other entity in the world?”  The answer to the question is big and scary.

Even as education attracts increased interest from would-be “disrupters” there is also a murmuring consensus.  When people say that education is “ripe” for disruption, they largely mean that the opportunity exists to go around institutional sales to the education bureaucracy and effectively target parents, teachers, students or a few progressive charter schools or networks that can pay for solutions.

None of these revenue models are bad things, but they all come with trade-offs.  Is it acceptable or sustainable to shift more of those costs towards teachers who already shoulder more than their fair share?  Targeting affluent parents or well-funded charters helps progressive ideas get off the ground but often contributes to the already stark inequity in education.

We need an all-of-the-above strategy, but entrepreneurial ed-innovation is operating with one-arm tied behind its back.  Within the $900 Billion (US) spent by federal, state and local decision makers on our educational system are hundreds of billions spent on books, tests, teaching tools, professional development solutions, software and hardware.  What even the “disrupters” have conceded is that, gaining access to this market is determined less by product benefits, user-experience or evidence of effectiveness as it is determined by relationships and access.   The 5 or so global education corporations are largely successful because they have the scale to operate huge sales forces that maintain relationships with networks of decision makers and very effectively push their portfolio of products through the bureaucracy.  Without this network, outside ideas are effectively blocked from gaining significant traction. With no hope of a mega-blockbuster, large VC investments are hard to come by, which in turn makes earlier investors more scarce.  The pattern continues down the chain until there is little entrepreneurship at the very early stage because there’s little support for entrepreneurs (capital) or there’s only capital for certain types of ideas.   The big problem my SWEDU customers face is that the startups within the community have a tougher time finding funding or attracting top talent to work on education ideas.

So this is where Pearson comes in.  The largest and most dominant of all the learning companies, Pearson knows that bureaucracy better than anyone.  SWEDU brings in global partners (Google, Gates and Grockit, along with Kauffman) because they can commit resources to helping educational startup companies grow, because they bring global brand recognition, and because they are the best at what they do and enable our partnership to tackle problems we could do without them. Pearson and Startup Weekend Education have entered into an arrangement to see if there is a solution we can develop that would help innovative education entrepreneurs navigate the bureaucracy.  Do I have all the answers?  No.  Do I know there is a high chance of failure?  Yes.  Do I understand the risks and concerns of the community on which we depend?  I hope after reading this you think so.  If not send me an email and I’ll get back to you Khalid@startupweekend.org

 

Lesson #4) EARLY ADOPTERS FALL IN LOVE FAST AND SOMETIMES GET HURT.  SHOW THEM LOVE ALWAYS.

The patron saint of entrepreneurs Steve Jobs, once was boo-ed at his own conference as he announced a deal with Microsoft.  He knew that Microsoft controlled a valuable resource; in his case it was Microsoft’s windows, office and browser software that had become the standard for pc communications.  Apple needed access.  Jobs had a very different vision for how Apple would grow and it didn’t involve wasting energy trying to out-innovate Microsoft in the arena of documents and spreadsheet formats.  Most assuredly, he was booed by some of Apple’s strongest supporters who saw Apple as a rebellion against the evils of Microsoft as much as it was a movement for a more human-relatable computing experience.  Jobs famously shushed the crowd with, ”We have to give up the false notion that for us to succeed Microsoft has to fail.”  History has proven that Jobs knew what he was talking about and that he had a plan, but we only know that because Jobs had the guts and the empathy to stand up and tell the Apple enthusiast community personally. Your customers and community will make lots of demands of your startup.  Many entrepreneur gurus will tell you to ignore them.  The truth is that you owe them a debt for their early support without which you would still be floundering in ambiguity about your business, product or market.  You don’t have to fulfill every wish they have, but every once in a while, just pause, get on stage, tell them that you’ve really listened and heard them, tell that you have a plan, thank them for all their support, allow them to be sad, admit you’re a little bit scared and then invite them to walk with you in this new direction.








Join us for a Panel Examining Emerging Tech in the Arab World

Join Startup Weekend at “Arab Tech Emerging: Connecting the Next Generation of Innovators” Panelists include Startup Weekend COO Adam Stelle.

In 18 months, Startup Weekend has grown by leaps and bounds in the MENA region. In 2010 there was only one event in the Arab world; in 2011, Startup Weekend organized 13.  This high-growth isn’t showing sign of slowing either – we estimate that we’ll hold over 25 events in the MENA region in 2012.

The rising popularity of Startup Weekend in the Arab World is neither surprising nor isolated.  Following the 2011 “Arab Spring”, young people, many of whom are tech-savvy and entrepreneurially-minded, are eagerly embracing self-empowerment through self-employment.

Join us for “Arab Tech Emerging: Connecting the Next Generation of Innovators” with panelists from Google, Mercy Corps, and Startup Weekend to learn about the potential of the next generation of young Arabs.

To register for the event and learn more about the participating organizations, click here.








Startup Weekend Announces Global Education Partnership with Pearson

Collaboration will aid and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in the education industry.

Seattle, WA – January 25, 2012– Startup WeekendTM today announced a one-year global partnership with Pearson, the world’s leading learning company. The partnership will strengthen Startup Weekend Education, a global initiative that aims to transform teaching and learning through entrepreneurship.

Pearson’s expertise in education will be made available to entrepreneurs who want to create innovative tools and services to improve education globally. Pearson is a keen supporter of young entrepreneurs, and this partnership will deepen the company’s involvement with the startup scene.

Startup Weekend Education events build on the successful model established by the original Startup Weekend initiative by focusing on increasing the entrepreneurial spirit within the education industry via regular meet-ups and a support network. Intended to promote innovation and encourage the next generation of education-related startups, Startup Weekend Education events add teachers, professors and other education experts to the carefully balanced mix of designers, developers and marketing participants.

Khalid Smith, Education Leader of Startup Weekend, says: “Adding Pearson to our amazing roster of sponsors for Startup Weekend Education, which includes Grockit, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google, makes for a very robust program. With these partners, Startup Weekend Education has an opportunity to create communities of support for early stage education entrepreneurs unlike any other institution in the world. Our global partners are truly best-in-class in their respective fields and we can’t think of a better way to support our mix of innovative entrepreneurs and educators than giving them access to the very best mentors and resources that the education and technology sectors have to offer.”

Tom Hall, Head of Partnerships at Pearson’s Future Technologies and Partnerships division, says: “We’re passionate about promoting innovation in education and believe that supporting education entrepreneurship globally and in local communities is a key way to achieve that goal.”

Patrick Supanc, CEO of Alleyoop, an internal Pearson startup focusing on college and career readiness, adds: “If we are going to transform educational opportunities globally, we have to find better ways to innovate locally, a mission that Startup Weekend fosters extremely well.”

Startup Weekend Education events kicked off in September 2011 with events in Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and London. Plans for 2012 include events in New York City, Boston, Palo Alto, Atlanta and Dallas; additional focused international efforts include Latin American (Sao Paulo), Western Europe (UK) and India (Mumbai). Plans are still being developed for late summer/fall 2012.

Education innovators interested in hosting or organizing local events are encouraged to contact Startup Weekend at http://edu.startupweekend.org.

For more information about the partnership, contact Khalid Smith at khalid@startupweekend.org, Susan Aspey at Pearson Susan.Aspey@Pearson.com, or visit http://edu.startupweekend.org

About Startup Weekend

Startup WeekendTM supports the development and expansion of entrepreneurship through events worldwide that educate aspiring entrepreneurs by immersing them in the process of moving an idea to market. Startup Weekend has built a network of more than 37,000 alumni, 300 volunteer organizers and 70 trained facilitators spread across more than 200 cities in 100 countries. For more information, visit www.startupweekend.org. @StartupWeekend

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, providing educational materials and services, business information through the Financial Times Group and consumer publishing through the Penguin brand. Pearson serves learners of all ages around the globe, employing 36,000 people in more than 70 countries, and is listed on the Londonand New Yorkstock exchanges. For more information, visit www.pearson.com.








Soonzy (SW Columbus) Accepted to10xelerator

Soonzy.com (@ComingSoonzy) was founded at Startup Weekend Columbus, OH, and is now based there. In early January 2012, they were accepted into the 10xelerator venture accelerator program in Columbus, OH, backed by The Ohio State University and The State of Ohio.

Their core purpose is to aggregate the latest news and rumors about products with upcoming release dates. All other details of their company will remain in stealth mode until their public launch, which is estimated to be in early to late April 2012. Sign up on their landing page at Soonzy.com to receive periodic updates (it’s a LaunchRock – another SW company!).

At Startup Weekend Columbus in October 2011, Andy Sparks (hustler), co-founder & CEO of Soonzy, pitched an idea then dubbed “DemandZilla,” which enabled users to “demand” certain businesses like restaurant chains come to their city.

Andy soon realized that businesses refusing to come to new cities shot a big hole in the business model and then recruited co-founders Carrie Phillips (design) and Zach Boerger (developer) to join the team two weeks later at a “post-startup weekend hackathon.” Since then, they altered their business model to one that they believe to be viable for the long-term.

Prior to Soonzy, Andy attempted to start a microbrewery in college at 19, worked at DOmedia, spoke at TEDxYouth Columbus, raised money for Ohio State’s startup club, The Business Builders Club, and is still active in his role as Product & Sales Manager at eproximiti, a Columbus-based mobile app development company specializing in healthcare. He is also a Startup Weekend Organizer and Facilitator.

Zach is graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in Computer Science in June 2012, has worked for Zaarly, Microsoft, and Pie Digital in addition to starting his own startup in college, Hottest on Campus.

Carrie is graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in Industrial Design in June 2012, and has worked with The Social Innovation Initiative, a collaboration between faculty and students to bring products to market, for the last two years as a product designer.








Babelverse to Provide Live Voice Translation Service for President Obama's State of the Union Address

…in 6,976 languages!

The team behind Babelverse, the world’s first real-time on-demand interpretation service, announced today that they will translate President Obama’s address in real-time to viewers around the world in 6,976 languages. The start-up, founded by Mayel de Borniol (France) and Josef Dunne (UK), were awarded top honours at LeWeb’11, the internationally renowned technology conference based in Paris, France.

“Barack Obama’s address this evening touches more than just folks from the United States,” says Dunne, who co-founded Babelverse in Athens, Greece. “The outcome of the address has a direct bearing on the lives of individuals across the globe, and we would like it to be accessible to the 7 billion citizens of the world, no matter what their native tongue is.”

Babelverse, a start-up that was part of the government-backed accelerator programme, Start-Up Chile, originally created the application as a way to improve communication during international rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese Tsunami.

President Obama’s address, to be potentially translated into up to 6,976 languages can be streamed at: http://stateoftheunion.babelverse.com.

English speakers capable of translating to the various languages of the world can volunteer their time during the address at: http://stateoftheunion.babelverse.com.