Win Tickets to SXSWEDU at Twin Cities SWEDU!

This year, participants could win SXSWEdu tickets via the NBCUniversal Open Possibilities Challenge!

For this OPTIONAL challenge, all teams that address the challenge statement below will be considered for a special prize: 3 tickets to the SXSWedu in Austin, TX.

Challenge: “How might we prepare students for the 21st century workforce and/or to lead 21st century communities?”

Click here for eligibility rules and judging criteria.

The DocentEDU Story: It all started at SWEDU…

[This is a re-blogged post by Karin Hogen, co-founder of EdTech startup DocentEdu. Karin and her co-founders attended Startup Weekend Education in May 2014 where DocentEDU was launched. Since that time, DocentEdu earned finalist honors at the Minnesota Cup, presented at Minnedemo, and is in the hands of thousands of students.]

It all started at Twin Cities Startup Weekend EDU…

May 7, 2014 • Karin Hogen

The Beginning

When the now teammates of DocentEDU showed up to Twin Cities Startup Weekend EDU at the Carlson School of Management on May 2, they all came as strangers. They all came with different ideas to pitch and different goals for the weekend. However, most importantly, they all came to do something great–and that they did. By winning Startup Weekend EDU, the DocentEDU team can now pursue their goal of creating a business which will positively impact education as well as the business world.

 The Middle

After just 52 hours, the 7 teammates went from a group of strangers with diverse goals, to a tight-knit team with one goal: transforming the way we interact with online content by creating the web tool DocentEDU. @Matt Nupen@Karin Hogen@Dan Antonson, Wyatt Andersen, Ashish Shrivastava, @Abdulla Malek, and @Derek Persons made up the team. From the minute Matt Nupen gave his pitch, everyone began to focus on how to create the best and most developed product possible in the short amount of time given during the weekend.

 The End

Throughout the hectic weekend, the team worked tirelessly. This paid off by the first place win on Sunday night. According to the judge who announced the win, @Jay Haugen, DocentEDU is a rare innovative tool that can transform teaching and learning. He even emphatically said that he wanted DocentEDU in his school district the next day.

The amazingness of the weekend comes from our team members, but we would also like to thank others who made our dream possible. We as a team would like to thank the organizers of Startup Weekend Twin Cities: Steven Wellvang, Christopher Nyren, Kristen Daniels, Seijen Takamura, and Justin Moen. Without their constant encouragement and help, our product wouldn’t have made it as far as it did. We also want to thank all of the mentors and the judges who gave us such great guidance and feedback. Lastly, we want to thank @3M Post-It Products for their great collaboration tools.


The Future

Currently, DocentEDU is registering for The Minnesota Cup competition. The team is also exploring the amazing contacts it made during the weekend. We hope to keep working, get some investment, and get a beta version up and running as soon as possible.


In the meantime, make sure to sign up on our website for updates and to follow us on Twitter.

5 Minutes To Glory (Dominating The Final Presentation)

At the end of Startup Weekend, your team is expected to present for 5 minutes in front of a panel of experienced local entrepreneurs. Your 5 minute presentation should include both a demonstration of your MVP Prototype AND a brief overview of your business strategy (i.e. all of the thinking you put into your startup).

Every time I organize or facilitate a Startup Weekend I receive tons of questions about what a good final presentation looks like. So here’s a little guidance:



There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of example final presentations on YouTube from Startup Weekends around the world. You might have to adjust search terms to find the ones in English, but they are a great reference point.

A few of my favorites are below.

SW EDU Seattle – Lighthouse – Geo-location tracking for special needs children

Great job painting a picture of the problem, very impressive demo

SW Omaha – SimplyFi – Simplifying wifi expansion and management

Overall great energy and enthusiasm, great job knowing the flow, good articulation of the problem being solved.

SW Saratoga – Aqua – Improving sanitation and reducing water consumption in developing markets

Great example of a rudimentary prototype which is NOT digital! Keep in mind not every startup is an app.

SW San Francisco – Words with Bears – Language learning thorough motion via MSFT Kinect

Great demo, great job painting a picture of the opportunity and white space in the market, also a pretty funny name.

This slide deck from fellow Startup Weekend community member Nick Stevens has some very practical guidance on what to include in your presentation:



This 5 minute time limit will be STRICTLY MAINTAINED and you will be clapped off-stage at the end of the time.

In that 5 minutes, you will have to:

1) Demo your MVP Prototype

2) Consider many questions that the judges are interested in:

– What research was conducted to validate the problem & solution?
– Who is the target audience?
– How will the company acquire new customers?
– Who is the competition?
– How does the company differentiate itself?
– How will the company make money?
– Why was the product designed the way it was?
– How user-friendly & aesthetically pleasing is the product?
– What does a future roadmap look like?
– Were you able to conduct a demo?
– And more!

As you work on your final presentations, you should ask yourself these questions and more, then, be selecting about determine which information to include or omit from your final presentation. Work with your team to determine which points help you tell the most compelling story about your startup.  Use those as the foundation for your final presentation.

Anything you leave out, you should anticipate a judge asking during Q&A. Immediately following your presentation, the judges will have 5-10 minutes to ask you follow-up and clarifying questions about your startup.



Many teams will over-emphasize their solution or technology in their final presentations. I believe strongly that this is over-rated.

I believe that one of the most effective things that a team can do is paint a very focused, emotional, yet concise picture of the big problem to be solved or the opportunity at hand.

If you can pull at my heart strings and make me truly see and believe in the bigger picture, it’s much easier jump for me as a judge, audience member, of consumer-at-large to land on your startup as the only possible solution to the problem.

Doing this shows that you understand your user, you’ve developed true empathy with them, and are thus able to design a solution that truly meets their needs.

WTF is a Minimal Viable Product?

As a participant at Twin Cities Startup Weekend Youth Edition, you and your team will be expected to create a minimal viable product (MVP) prototype to demonstrate to the judges on Friday night.

You might be thinking to yourself “WTF is a MVP?!”

Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup defines an MVP as:

“A Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

Ash Maura, author of Running Lean, has a slightly more strict take:

“A Minimum Viable Product is the smallest thing you can build that delivers customer value (and as a bonus captures some of that value back).”

The dialogue and discussion about MVPs is large, but several factors remain consistent:

1. Maximize learning.

2. Create value for your customer (or learn why value is not created).

3. Minimize time and resources devoted to get there.

The image below is a good articulate the process of developing an MVP.


In the lower half of the diagram, value was created immediately (if only a very small amount of value), but was not maximized. Over time and multiple versions of the product, learning was achieved, and the product evolved.


We look forward to seeing you create MVP prototypes next week at Twin Cities Startup Weekend Youth! Below are some resources to help you create an MVP over the course of the event. 







Apple Keynote:

Microsoft Powerpoint:

High Quality iPhone Mock-Ups:






A LIST OF LISTS OF RESOURCES:!/s/posts/prototype

Startups in 13 Sentences

We are less than 1 week away from Twin Cities Startup Weekend: Youth Edition!

We’re excited to see you and hope you’ve started thinking about your 60 second pitch.

As you gear up for the event, check out this short but powerful feature from Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator. Y Combinator is one of the most prestigious accelerators/seed funds in the world and has helped launch startups like Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit, and OMGPop.

This post is entirely a re-blog/copy & paste of Paul Graham’s original post here. We do not claim any credit for it, but hope you find it inspirational.

Startups in 13 Sentences

February 2009

One of the things I always tell startups is a principle I learned from Paul Buchheit: it’s better to make a few people really happy than to make a lot of people semi-happy. I was saying recently to a reporter that if I could only tell startups 10 things, this would be one of them. Then I thought: what would the other 9 be?

When I made the list there turned out to be 13:

1. Pick good cofounders.

Cofounders are for a startup what location is for real estate. You can change anything about a house except where it is. In a startup you can change your idea easily, but changing your cofounders is hard. [1] And the success of a startup is almost always a function of its founders.

2. Launch fast.

The reason to launch fast is not so much that it’s critical to get your product to market early, but that you haven’t really started working on it till you’ve launched. Launching teaches you what you should have been building. Till you know that you’re wasting your time. So the main value of whatever you launch with is as a pretext for engaging users.

3. Let your idea evolve.

This is the second half of launching fast. Launch fast and iterate. It’s a big mistake to treat a startup as if it were merely a matter of implementing some brilliant initial idea. As in an essay, most of the ideas appear in the implementing.

4. Understand your users.

You can envision the wealth created by a startup as a rectangle, where one side is the number of users and the other is how much you improve their lives. [2] The second dimension is the one you have most control over. And indeed, the growth in the first will be driven by how well you do in the second. As in science, the hard part is not answering questions but asking them: the hard part is seeing something new that users lack. The better you understand them the better the odds of doing that. That’s why so many successful startups make something the founders needed.

5. Better to make a few users love you than a lot ambivalent.

Ideally you want to make large numbers of users love you, but you can’t expect to hit that right away. Initially you have to choose between satisfying all the needs of a subset of potential users, or satisfying a subset of the needs of all potential users. Take the first. It’s easier to expand userwise than satisfactionwise. And perhaps more importantly, it’s harder to lie to yourself. If you think you’re 85% of the way to a great product, how do you know it’s not 70%? Or 10%? Whereas it’s easy to know how many users you have.

6. Offer surprisingly good customer service.

Customers are used to being maltreated. Most of the companies they deal with are quasi-monopolies that get away with atrocious customer service. Your own ideas about what’s possible have been unconsciously lowered by such experiences. Try making your customer service not merely good, but surprisingly good. Go out of your way to make people happy. They’ll be overwhelmed; you’ll see. In the earliest stages of a startup, it pays to offer customer service on a level that wouldn’t scale, because it’s a way of learning about your users.

7. You make what you measure.

I learned this one from Joe Kraus. [3] Merely measuring something has an uncanny tendency to improve it. If you want to make your user numbers go up, put a big piece of paper on your wall and every day plot the number of users. You’ll be delighted when it goes up and disappointed when it goes down. Pretty soon you’ll start noticing what makes the number go up, and you’ll start to do more of that. Corollary: be careful what you measure.

8. Spend little.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for a startup to be cheap. Most startups fail before they make something people want, and the most common form of failure is running out of money. So being cheap is (almost) interchangeable with iterating rapidly. [4] But it’s more than that. A culture of cheapness keeps companies young in something like the way exercise keeps people young.

9. Get ramen profitable.

“Ramen profitable” means a startup makes just enough to pay the founders’ living expenses. It’s not rapid prototyping for business models (though it can be), but more a way of hacking the investment process. Once you cross over into ramen profitable, it completely changes your relationship with investors. It’s also great for morale.

10. Avoid distractions.

Nothing kills startups like distractions. The worst type are those that pay money: day jobs, consulting, profitable side-projects. The startup may have more long-term potential, but you’ll always interrupt working on it to answer calls from people paying you now. Paradoxically, fundraisingis this type of distraction, so try to minimize that too.

11. Don’t get demoralized.

Though the immediate cause of death in a startup tends to be running out of money, the underlying cause is usually lack of focus. Either the company is run by stupid people (which can’t be fixed with advice) or the people are smart but got demoralized. Starting a startup is a huge moral weight. Understand this and make a conscious effort not to be ground down by it, just as you’d be careful to bend at the knees when picking up a heavy box.

12. Don’t give up.

Even if you get demoralized, don’t give up. You can get surprisingly far by just not giving up. This isn’t true in all fields. There are a lot of people who couldn’t become good mathematicians no matter how long they persisted. But startups aren’t like that. Sheer effort is usually enough, so long as you keep morphing your idea.

13. Deals fall through.

One of the most useful skills we learned from Viaweb was not getting our hopes up. We probably had 20 deals of various types fall through. After the first 10 or so we learned to treat deals as background processes that we should ignore till they terminated. It’s very dangerous to morale to start to depend on deals closing, not just because they so often don’t, but because it makes them less likely to.

Having gotten it down to 13 sentences, I asked myself which I’d choose if I could only keep one.

Understand your users. That’s the key.

The essential task in a startup is to create wealth; the dimension of wealth you have most control over is how much you improve users’ lives; and the hardest part of that is knowing what to make for them. Once you know what to make, it’s mere effort to make it, and most decent hackers are capable of that.

Understanding your users is part of half the principles in this list. That’s the reason to launch early, to understand your users. Evolving your idea is the embodiment of understanding your users. Understanding your users well will tend to push you toward making something that makes a few people deeply happy. The most important reason for having surprisingly good customer service is that it helps you understand your users. And understanding your users will even ensure your morale, because when everything else is collapsing around you, having just ten users who love you will keep you going.


[1] Strictly speaking it’s impossible without a time machine.

[2] In practice it’s more like a ragged comb.

[3] Joe thinks one of the founders of Hewlett Packard said it first, but he doesn’t remember which.

[4] They’d be interchangeable if markets stood still. Since they don’t, working twice as fast is better than having twice as much time.


Speakers Announced for Women's Policy Forum: Fighting The Startup Gender Gap

We are very excited to host the “Women’s Policy Forum: Fighting The Startup Gender Gap” on Wednesday, November 12th.

It is also our pleasure to announce several speakers for the event who will seek to provoke some early-morning discussion among the audience.

“Julie Samuels is Executive Director of Engine, a nonprofit focused on technology entrepreneurship and giving startups a seat at the table in policy debates. Julie is a frequent commentator on technology and policy issues for national media—particularly in the intellectual property space—and she has filed briefs with the Supreme Court, testified before Congressional Committees. Julie came to Engine by way of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she was a senior staff attorney and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. Before joining EFF, Julie litigated IP and entertainment cases in Chicago at Loeb & Loeb and Sonnenschein. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Julie spent time as a legislative assistant at the Media Coalition in New York, as an assistant editor at the National Journal in D.C., and she worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Champaign, IL. Julie earned her J.D. from Vanderbilt University and her B.S. in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”

“Babs Lee is cofounder of Kilo, a touch interactive video startup with patented technology started out of Stanford’s MOOC on Technology Entrepreneurship. Actively involved in the DC startup scene, she is a Startup Weekend DC co-organizer having recently led the team that organized Startup Weekend DC’s first ever Women’s edition, an even which garnered 100+ participants. Babs self-taught herself java, html, css and javascript and is also a former Google Developer Group DC co-organizer. She is a staunch supporter of closing the gender gap in tech and startups.”

“Nishika is on the advisory board for Startup Women, UP Global’s initaitive to reduce the gender gap in startups and technology. As a San Francisco-based CEO and Creative Director of her own fashion label dE ROSAIRO, Nishika draws on the idea of connectedness, power, and transformation in her designs. A naturally gifted artist and dancer throughout her life, she started designing clothes in her teenage years. Fashion has always been her creative touchstone and way of life, fueling her imagination and storytelling. She grew up embracing the world and its cultures, living on four continents and traveling to 23 countries by the time she graduated from business school. Prior to founding dE ROSAIRO, Nishika spent nine years as a strategic advisor to Fortune 500 companies, mostly in Silicon Valley. The experience she gained was invaluable to realizing her childhood dream of founding her own designer label.  The dE ROSAIRO brand offers a blend of Nishika’s passion for design and her natural aptitude for business and entrepreneurship, with the ultimate goal of shaping a new vocabulary of sophisticated, everyday luxury for the modern woman.”


08:30 am – Breakfast served and opportunity to network
09:00 am – Programming begins sharply
10:30 am – Wrap up

2121 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20433
Room # F5P – 100

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday!

SW Bangor Postponed to Feb 6-8, 2015

Dear Startup Weekend Enthusiast,

We are grateful for your support and for your desire to help make Startup Weekend SW Bangor a fantastic event.

After taking an honest look at our prospects for delivering a top-notch experience, we have decided to postpone SW Bangor until February 6-8, 2015 in order to allow for greater participation. Stay tuned to for more information.

If you would like to participate in a SW between now and then, check out Startup Weekend Auburn, November 14-16, 2014.

We will be contacting your very soon to discuss transferring/refunding your ticket to the new event dates.

Thanks again for your interest and help. We look forward to serving again in the near future.

– The Organizing Team

Instacart offer for Pitch Karaoke attendees!



We’re excited to share an evening of laughs and learning with you all. Pitch Karaoke will be the first public event at UP Global’s new HQ at Startup Hall on the University of Washington campus.

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that delivers in as little as an hour! It connects you with Personal Shoppers in your area who pick up and deliver your groceries from your favorite local stores.

Promo codes will be distributed at the event.

Thanks Instacart and to our additional community partners in HaikuDeck and 3M Post-It.

Seattle Pitch Karaoke… What is it anyway?

August 28th marks the 2nd Startup Weekend Bootcamp that Seattle has hosted this year and we’re hoping to make it something really special.

BattleDecks (aka PowerPoint Karaoke) is “an improvisational activity in which a participant must deliver a presentation based on a set of slides that they have never seen before.” (Wikipedia-official definition y’all)

As far as we can tell, in Seattle, this has only been done once before by Creative Mornings which was both 1) a blast and 2) a learning experience.

As part of the Seattle Startup Community, we at UP Global HQ are excited to resurrect this nifty activity with our own little twist.

1) We’re gonna make it all about pitching startups!

2) We’re gonna do it at night, over drinks!

3) We’re gonna learn something!

Behold, PITCH KARAOKE! An untraditional take on pitch prep featuring 6 mystery pitch-decks, 6 unprepared pitchers, laughs, learning, and beer.

Pitch Karaoke seeks to support anyone interested in startups and entrepreneurship by:
– helping people overcome public speaking fears
– educating the community on the critical elements of a 5 minute pitch presentation
– pushing future entrepreneurs to be comfortable with the concept of failure
– bringing together the Seattle startup community in a humorous yet relevant environment

The Format:
6 mystery slide decks will be created to showcase 6 imaginary startups.On the day of the event, volunteers from the crowd will be asked to pitch these startups in front of Seattle’s welcoming, friendly, and HUMBLE entrepreneur community. 😉

The Caveat?
– They will NOT see the slides in advance of their presentation.
– They will NOT be told the outline of critical presentation elements.
– The startups will be imaginary. They do not exist in real life… yet.
– Presentations are Ignite-style: 5 minutes total – 20 slides auto-advancing every 20 seconds.

At the conclusion of the pitches, the audience & pitchers will gather to discuss the critical elements of a good pitch and to recap highlights from the evening.

Check out this sample of what’s to come:

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Hope to see you there!