With Startup Weekend just days away, it’s time to get psyched! If you missed the chance to purchase a full event ticket, don’t worry, you can still join us at the pitch event on Sunday! You’ll be able to see the progress that each team has made over the weekend as well as mingle with the participants and mentors at the Give a Damn after-party. Listening to the participating teams pitch their ideas is exciting, and many of the ideas presented go on to become full-fledged products and companies.
One of our successful participants, Jeston George, spoke with us about the impact of Startup Weekend on his idea. Jeston is the CEO and founder of Apptegy, a company providing a platform that allows schools to sync all marketing and communication efforts together seamlessly into a single mobile app. Jeston pitched in the 2014 Startup Weekend in Little Rock, and although his team didn’t place, he’s expanded on his pitch to create Apptegy. Jeston met several of his core employees during Startup Weekend and he still consults with several other Startup Weekenders. Jeston wholeheartedly recommends Startup Weekend and says that it’s a great way to meet like-minded people. Startup Weekend provides a platform, as well as resources, for budding entrepreneurs to flesh out their ideas and receive valuable feedback from seasoned pros.
Speaking of pros, one of our Startup Weekend mentors, Corey Boelkens, CEO and founder of RaftUp, will be speaking at Sunday’s pitch event. Corey was a participant in the 2015 Startup Weekend, where his team placed second. According to Corey, Startup Weekend was an integral part in launching his company. With mentors there to help facilitate a buildable and pitchable idea, the process helps validate and lend confidence to the participants. This year, Corey plans on helping participants focus quickly and effectively on their ideas so they will be prepared to pitch on Sunday.
The first person who comes to my mind when I think of a true maker is my dad. Before he had computer software readily available to generate 3D drawings, I watched him measure and create sculptures from poster board. Fast forward 30 years, he now owns a welding and fabrication job shop capable of making just about anything out of metal.
What does this have to do with the upcoming NWA Startup Weekend? We know that not everyone’s ideas will be software solutions or apps. Some innovators may be interested in making physical products, and still want to have a minimum viable product (MVP) by the pitch event on Sunday. For this subset of aspiring entrepreneurs, the NWA Fab Lab will have extended hours to open specifically for Startup Weekenders.
The NWA Fab Lab is an official makerspace that hosts equipment such as laser cutters, 3D printers, woodworking tools, and a 3D body scanner. They use open-source software that is available to the public and host trainings led by community volunteers. Both individuals and groups are invited to utilize this community resource, located just right off of the Fayetteville square. Under the direction of the Fayetteville Chamber, their vision is to encourage entrepreneurship, advance science and technology careers, contribute to the resurgence of American innovation and create a new generation of entrepreneurs, inventors, and artisans.
Whitney Green, Director of the NWA Fab Lab, told us a bit about products community members have prototyped using the Fab Lab’s equipment. One example she shared was a new drinking utensil. Their 3D printers are the same type Startup Junkie‘s Michael Iseman used to print over 25,000 board game pieces for his Kickstarter launch.
Not only will the Fab Lab be available for Startup Weekend participants to work from during the event, they have also donated a 6-month membership to the team that places first in the “Best Maker” category. At the last NWA Startup Weekend, we had engineers modifying drones. What will our participants come up with this year? Attend the pitch event Sunday afternoon to find out!