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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!

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Sarah Binder