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In 2007 Techstars, Andrew Hyde founded Startup Weekend in Boulder, Colorado. According to the Seattle Times, participants paid $20 to receive shares of their company. Andrew Hyde, claimed 5 percent of the company. The model quickly expanded, and ‘in January 2010, Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen took over full ownership and registered the organization as a not-for-profit, relocating to Seattle in 2010’.  In the fall of 2010, Startup Weekend gained a grant and 501c3 nonprofit status from Kauffman Foundation.     

Mark and Clint also broke Startup Weekend attendees into small groups. With the slogan: ‘to build a business in 54 hours,’ Startup Weekend entrepreneurs challenge those enrolled to ‘get out and validate,’ as current Portland area organizer Dave Barcos puts it. In the end, a diverse mindset can change the idea for the better. Composed of an average of of 60-120 participants, these  ‘Weekend Warriors’,  engage in a bootcamp experience and network with like minds. ‘In the end perseverance to overcome and a team of people with diverse mindsets can change an idea slightly and still build a great business,’ says Seattle organizer Ewelina Kelley ’it’s more important to talk about what the software will do than actually show it’

Hackathons and meetups focus on the deliverable, Startup Weekend focuses on the business and it’s intentions. In software and hardware development you can build a prototype but it still takes a number of guesses. Different ways to think about your business make sense as safe houses to build great ideas with less customer validation, but attendees must be prepared to fail. ’You’re going to fail either way,’ says Kelley.  

In hackathons, developers search for commonalities, using semantic programming to understand the context of what is being asked. Hackathons focus on the deliverable, while Startup Weekend is focused on the business and  it’s intent . Rather than building things whether or not they’re usable by anybody else, Startup Weekend offers a good mix of talent.

One successful startup from Startup Weekend is a ‘uv sensor plug[s] into a phone, takes information regarding skin type, sunscreen, [and] would tell you how much sun exposure’ you had, according to Barcos. Another, a gift accelerator, purchases gifts. With the gift giver unable to give big gifts alone, the group gifting app. results with a person receiving a bigger, better gift. They also receive a group gift card when the gifting is completed.

One emphasized common dynamic is to not worry too much about pitching  and winning. Learning to connect with what would be or will be cofounders. According to Portland organizer Yu Te, ‘startups take time, rely on business model foundation what kind of product business serves, what kind of revenue.’ Go with flow the flow don’t be overly attached.

Learn interpersonal skills necessary for building successful business ventures from successful individuals. Judges, mentors, and attendees take time out of their busy schedule to make the Startup Weekend experience.

‘There’s a hurdle [and] the first hurdle is taking action’, says Yu Te. By sharing a weekend with like-minded individuals, the attendee is able to show off their strengths and answer their weaknesses through team collaboration. The next Startup Weekend in Portland has an education focus, and will begin in March. Please consider Startup Weekend Seattle as well, their next event is music focused. Themes vary event to event including hispanic, tourism, food, devices, youth, social impact, and women/girls. Common dynamics of teamwork, business planning, and self discovery enhance any participants’ work experience.


murrayjbaker@gmail.com murrayjbaker@gmail.com
Portland, OR