What if life and business were always this way?

After being part of the winning team at Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014, Josh McNary reflected on the experience on his blog. Now as a Startup Weekend organizer and volunteer in Iowa’s Creative Corridor, Josh shares some of what makes the weekends special. Find the full post on mcnary.me.

Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014.
Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014.

Expectations & Surprises

  • I knew I would be surrounded by amazing people, some of which I knew and others which I wanted to get to know.
  • I expected I would learn from and help others via building a business in 54 hours. No matter the outcome, it was going to be a lot of hard work and fun.
  • I knew we would have a lot of coffee and eat really well.

Superb People

The weekend identified and highlighted great people wanting to further themselves, great ideas, our community, and serve others via their vocations.

New Ideas

Some ideas were better than others, but all of them were new ideas in the eyes of the beholder and forced those attending to think about possibilities.

Endless Energy

Early or late each day, teams were working away, making things happen via coding, calls, and business planning. No matter where you turned something awesome was getting accomplished.

Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014.
Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014.

Closing Momentum

By the time the weekend was wrapping up, the attendees were beginning to get tired and stressed for pitching their ideas, but the momentum for the community was hitting a feverish level.

Help the Region

If the community, entrepreneurs, and business can find ways to replicate the trust, drive, and passion of that experimental weekend – there is no reason this area cannot thrive. All you, I, and we have to do is do it.

Why would you not want to be part of an event offering such amazing opportunities and features? Even if it is only for a short weekend? Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at swia.co!

Startup Weekend Stories: Levi, from student to tech founder

Startup Weekend Stories: Memories, reflections and lessons learned from Startup Weekend events in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa. 

Today we meet Levi Bostiana software engineer interested in Linux and open source. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa in December, Levi has taken the plunge to work on his Startup Weekend Iowa City project, Me2, full-time. “So really,” he writes, “Startup Weekend changed my life.” Read more on his blog – ‘Startup Weekend Iowa City 2014 – the greatest weekend of 2014.’

Pitching at Startup Weekend Iowa City 2014.
Pitching at Startup Weekend Iowa City 2014.


What were your hopes and goals going into the weekend?

At first, I found it as a great excuse to program all weekend on a cool project. I wanted to have a lot of fun building a business idea with a group of people who love entrepreneurship like I did and that is exactly what I did.

What was the most challenging part of the experience?

I was the only developer on my team and I was just starting Android development at that time, so completing a prototype of an app in a weekend by myself was pretty challenging for me. I did not concentrate too much on the business/marketing side of the business that weekend, I worked with our designer, Brian Rupert, closely the whole weekend trying to get a prototype done we could show the judges Sunday. It was so exciting when I got the speech to text part done on the app. I was pretty proud Sunday having a prototype completed.

How has the experience impacted you after the weekend?

I changed my work habits after the weekend. I had no idea you could get so much done in a weekend like I did at startup weekend so I changed up my workflow a bit to be more productive. I also fell in love with the community in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area and attended events in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area whenever I could to see the community again.

Advice I would give to someone considering attending startup weekend:

It is the funnest weekend you will have all year. When startup weekend comes to town, it is time to drop all your plans and go. Catch up with some old friends and make new. On Friday, you have no idea what you are going to be doing all weekend but on Sunday, you and your team are really close and so proud of what you get done. So rewarding!

Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at swia.co!

Startup Weekend Stories: Brian, web designer and developer

Startup Weekend Stories: Memories, reflections and lessons learned from Startup Weekend events in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa. 

BrianToday we meet Brian Rupert, a designer, front-end developer and game creator based in North Liberty, Iowa. Before attending Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids in 2014, he wasn’t plugged in to the local startup community at all (“I didn’t even know what that meant,” he writes). Today he works with several of the region’s most prominent startups and is a regular at community events.


Startup Weekend Iowa City 2014.
Startup Weekend Iowa City 2014.

What were your hopes and goals going into the weekend?

I didn’t really know what happened at a Startup Weekend, but my goals were to build something, meet people, and possibly find some people to work with/for.

The idea: On Friday, it was an app to suggest recipes based only on the food you actually had in your pantry.Sunday night it was pretty much the same thing, but suggested “best matches” of recipes with your stock of food.

What were the most memorable parts of the weekend?

The most challenging part was getting comfortable tearing the idea apart since it wasn’t mine. I also had no idea what a BMC (Business Model Canvas) was or really what was going on as far as validating the idea. I should have been more involved with that instead of designing/building the product. Actually building something (although useless) in the weekend was pretty exciting. Pitching was fun as it was something I hadn’t really done since college (14 years ago). Not having our idea validated and much of the presentation ready about an hour before pitch time was pretty unexpected since I wasn’t involved in that. Now I have learned.

Special shoutout: Organizer David Tominsky:

At Startup Weekend I was pretty heads-down working on our project and really squandered a lot of the networking/socialization aspect but I didn’t get a T-Shirt Friday night because they ran out. David told me to message him and he would get it. I did, and he was RIDICULOUSLY cool about it. He probably has no idea because he was just doing what he said he would. He made me way more comfortable with and feel welcomed to the community. Without him I would probably still be unhappy sitting in my home office working on unfulfilling projects.

How has the experience impacted you after the weekend?

In the best ways possible. I am working for a few startups in the area. I have learned SO much. I started working on my own app and pitched it at 1 Million Cups. I am coworking regularly. I did another Startup Weekend and am taking the idea through Venture School (A six week program developed at the University of Iowa). I like to think I have made some friends out of the deal, which is awesome.

Advice I would give to someone considering attending Startup Weekend:

You HAVE to do it. There is no downside. You have 51 other weekends this year to do all the other shit you think is important. Come to SW with an open-mind, willing to cooperate, excited to learn, and it can change your life.

Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at swia.co!

10 reasons to check out Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids

Get tickets for Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2015 here! http://bit.ly/1zvgONm

  1. Education: Startup Weekends are all about learning by doing, whether you’re learning a new skill or a new way of thinking. Don’t just listen to theory, build your own strategy and test it as you go.
  2. Co-Founder Dating: The people who come to Startup Weekend are serious about learning how to build and launch startups. Create relationships that last long past the weekend.
  3. Have fun: During the weekend working alongside awesome people who share your ideas. Startup Weekend is meant to be fun and entertaining so enjoy it.
  4. Solve local problems with your ideas. Do you think that one of your ideas can change our community or have a positive impact on people around the world? Bring your crazy idea notebook with you.
  5. Build Your Network: Startup Weekend works hard to recruit high quality, driven entrepreneurs–like you!
  6. Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014
    Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids 2014

    Learn New Skills: With a whole weekend dedicated to letting your creative juices flow, Startup Weekends are perfect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language, or give marketing a try. With nothing to lose there’s no reason not to step outside your comfort zone.

  7. Learn How to Launch a Business (and Actually Do It!): Startup Weekend is the epitome of Lean Startup Methodology.
  8. Mentorship: Local tech and startup leaders participate in Startup Weekends and give feedback to participants. Interact with the movers and shakers in your community.
  9. Get Access to Valuable Startup Resources: By participating in Startup Weekend you are given instant access to great products and tools. No one leaves Startup Weekend empty handed! Click here to learn more about some of the offers our Global Sponsors provide during the event.
  10. Save Money: Startup Weekends are affordable (typically $99, only $50 for students). Your ticket includes seven meals, snacks, and all the coffee you can drink.

Startup Weekend 101

By Startup Weekend Global

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Startup Weekends are…
Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. The weekend events are centered on action, innovation, and education. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through testing, business model development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos to a panel of potential investors and local entrepreneurs. Participants are challenged with building functional startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks.

Startup Weekend is a global nonprofit that has hosted hundreds of events in cities around the world.

Core values…

  • People should be judged by their actions, not by what they talk about
  • The best way to lead a fulfilling life is to pursue your passions
  • Entrepreneurship is the single greatest force advancing society and human welfare
  • Empowering others is the best way to identify leaders, build communities, and inspire change

Read more…

Startup Weekend manifesto

10 reasons to check out Startup Weekend