Startup Weekend: Where it Started – Q+A with Speedwell + Yarrow

Startup Weekend Columbus: Where it Started

Q&A with the Co-Founders of Speedwell & Yarrow

As former management consultants and working moms in dual-career households, Speedwell & Yarrow co-founders Ashley Lambrix and Lindsey Michaelides understand first-hand the challenges that come with managing busy careers and busy households. They brought their idea for Speedwell & Yarrow to Startup Weekend in February 2018 — an idea to help working parents manage life outside of the office.

The Startup Weekend team spoke with Ashley and Lindsey to learn about their experience with the goal of providing insight into what the weekend is like for prospective attendees and how Startup Weekend can lead to something more.

Let’s start from the beginning. Where did this business idea originate?

The idea was an outgrowth of our own personal experiences as two women who have had intense careers in management consulting and continued those careers in-house. Outside of our professional careers, as members of dual-career households and as working moms we had shared experiences that we talked about as friends and colleagues. The two of us eventually came to each other both struggling with day-to-day, asking, “Is anyone else stressed by this?”  So, initially, it really began with the uncovering of a problem that needed to be solved, rather than a specific solution.

You had this idea and you kept talking to people about it, how did you decide to take it to Startup Weekend?

We had gotten to a point through research that we felt confident our problem was relatable and meaningful within our peer group. Lindsey had a connection to Techstars who provided the suggestion that Startup Weekend could be a way for networks outside of ours to give feedback on and validation of our understanding of the problem. We had defined our problem with very little idea of what the solution could be – we wanted to leverage a larger collective brainpower.

You came in with a big goal to Startup Weekend, so can you tell us a bit about your experience with the event and what you experienced over the weekend?

Startup Weekend was the first introduction for both of us to the startup community in Columbus. We had so much fun and were energized by working on the problem, the pace of the weekend and the environment. We didn’t come into the weekend thinking that it’d be a good test case for exploring what entrepreneurship was like. We got it though, which helped us feel more informed when deciding to continue working on the idea after the event. The other unexpected benefit was expanding our thinking outside of our own domain expertise. We didn’t know the role technology could play as a part of a solution, but gained access to the knowledge to figure out where to start in building that out.

For those that might be reading this that have never pitched an idea, can you tell us what it’s like at Startup Weekend?

It was super fun. We put some thought and prep to our pitch in advance – we were probably over prepared. So, we pitched our original idea which went well and then got up and pitched two others because it was so fun. There is such great energy in the room; if you even have an inkling of an idea or a problem that isn’t solved today that could be solved better, you should come and pitch.

Okay, you’ve pitched (More than once!) How was your idea selected? 

The scrum of voting was intense. You each have your idea and have to collect votes from peers to determine the crowd’s favorites. We worked our tails off to beg for those votes.

Tell me about your SWCBUS team! How did you select team members? What was the team bonding process like? How did you work together?

We were fortunate in that we tried to be really welcoming to anyone that wanted to be a part of the team and were really clear from the outset about what specific skills we were looking for. It just kind of came together and we didn’t end up turning anyone away.

Describe the Startup Weekend environment: what was it like to build the idea on Saturday and Sunday? Find help from other participants, mentors, volunteers helpful?

We really went into the weekend trying to ensure that the team stayed as energized about the idea as we were. Part of how you do that is engagement and facilitating a process where people feel good about their involvement. We spent a lot of Saturday morning doing team brainstorming on the concept and then dividing and conquering on different fronts like research, development, framing of the pitch. We had a good balance of group activities and dividing and conquering individual tasks which allowed people to use their unique skills.

Would you recommend others attend? Why or why not?

Absolutely attend. By participating you have nothing to lose and so much to gain, whether you have an idea that you’ve actively been thinking about or you just want an opportunity to challenge yourself in a whole new way with a group of people you don’t interact with on a daily basis.

Thanks so much for talking with us! It’s pretty amazing to see how far Speedwell & Yarrow has developed just one year since your first Startup Weekend. We are very excited about your next step with the Techstars Accelerator!  

This also just goes to show that the people behind the ideas have power. What are your ideas? What will you create? There’s still time to get your Startup Weekend ticket! See you on Friday!

About Speedwell & Yarrow:

Speedwell & Yarrow helps busy professionals manage life outside of the office. Our service offers employers a new way to retain talent by lightening the mental load for busy professionals, giving them back time and mindshare to focus on what matters most.

As former management consultants and working moms in dual-career households, Speedwell & Yarrow co-founders Ashley Lambrix and Lindsey Michaelides understand first-hand the challenges that come with managing busy careers and busy households. They created Speedwell & Yarrow to support professionals and help them live fuller, more engaged lives – at work and at home.

About the Co-Founders:

Prior to founding Speedwell & Yarrow, Lindsey was a business strategist and management consultant with McKinsey & Company. Lindsey has more than 10 years of experience in business strategy with experience across the healthcare, retail, and media industries. Both as a consultant and corporate strategy leader, Lindsey focused largely on business model transformation and large scale M&A and joint venture creation.

Lindsey has a personal passion for supporting women and helping to create more female leaders. She has an MBA from Duke University and an undergraduate degree from DePauw University. Lindsey is married with two young boys and a crazy dog named Gary.

Ashley is a former management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group and Senior Strategy Advisor for OhioHealth. She has over 10 years of strategy experience and content expertise in growth and partnership opportunities in B2B and B2C spaces. She has experience in recruitment and retention innovation through program and brand development.

Ashley received an MBA from Chicago Booth, an MA in Middle East Studies from the University of Chicago, and a BBA from the Ross School at the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband and their two children.

A Candid Conversation with a Startup Weekend Veteran


The Startup Weekend team spoke with Rosemary Garry, a three time Startup Weekend participant, to learn about her experiences with the goal of providing insight into what the weekend is like for perspective attendees. 

So if you were looking for a sign if you should get your ticket to Startup Weekend, this is it!

This is your sign to get your ticket to Startup Weekend Columbus – if you’re a newbie or a returning participant.

But really, check out our conversation with Rosemary to see all the benefits you get when participating at Startup Weekend.

Let’s start from the top: Describe the weekend…

Startup Weekends are crazy, really fun events for developing solutions to problems you see in the world. You have something at the end of the weekend that may not be perfect, but it works, and you’re proud of that.

Give me a run-down of your Startup Weekend experiences…

I first participated as a student at Ohio State in 2013. At the time, it was mostly college students and there was this feeling in the air—the energy was really high. We worked on developing an app that pooled together shared expenses and tasks for households in a college environment. We called it Chore Tab.

That first Startup Weekend sticks out because it was just a hilarious, fun collection of memories of my teammates becoming really close friends, one of which ended up becoming a business partner of mine.

So it’s safe to say that you had a remarkable first event. What were your other two Startup Weekend teams?

The second Startup Weekend idea I worked on was an idea called Boozy: an alcoholic milkshake. We actually ended up being able to talk to the one person in the U.S. that has the patent for a bottle design that could freeze without the alcohol and milk separating inside the bottle. We had a licensing proposal for our product when it was all said and done and were even able to make an—albeit small— profit during Weekend 1 from selling samples.

The last idea was a product called Fender-Defender. It was a front and rear camera sensor that could tell you when you were in close proximity to other cars. To test out the idea, we made a sensor using a raspberry pie and asked people to parallel-park.

You worked on three different teams each time, what is it like participating as a member of a team?

It’s legitimately fun to build things with people you’ve joined up with. Part of the team building process is to ensure that you’re on a team that you vibe with, which is critical for having fun and building a MVP (Minimal Viable Product) by the end of a weekend.

Something that you mentioned to us is that not only did you participate with three different ideas, you also won or placed with these teams! Tell us, what’s the secret sauce to winning?

Follow the instructions! It’s surprising how many people don’t read the instructions for presenting to the judges. I’ve seen amazing concepts that would have won if they just included more details around their business plan and put financials in their presentation.

Also, actually make something. The point of Startup Weekend is to make something out of the weekend, to show that you tried. Part of the fun— a lot of teams forget— is creating a product that functions, even if just barely. It is probably going to be terrible and that’s okay!, The point is that you tried something and got your hands dirty.

What kept you coming back to Startup Weekend?

The thing that kept me coming back… it’s so rare to find a room where you have a really, really high chance of working with a team that you’ll get along with and that you can build something with over a weekend. You’ll be having fun and laughing, doing yoga, hanging out, eating chipotle… it’s that environment that kept me coming back.

Would you say that you grew as a participant?

Definitely. You can’t negate that it’s a skill building tool; public speaking and teamwork are the greatest drivers of success in an office setting and Startup Weekend is a training ground for learning how to succeed in that environment.

What are some of your best memories?

During my second weekend when I worked on Boozy, we had a really, really late night trying to make the boozy ice cream/milkshake. We ended up finding a soft serve machine that we were able to borrow and started making ice cream. Making ice cream is really technical and frustrating, but because you’re working with friends it was fun. We had a very, very, very big fail where all of the alcohol and ice cream just exploded from the machine and went all over one of our teammates. In the middle of the event space, she’s just standing there covered in milk and bourbon and it was hilarious.

All of my best memories though are ones that traditionally might have been fails, but because the weekend is all about learning, having fun, and doing something with fellow entrepreneurs, I don’t remember them that way.

If you were talking to someone who was on the fence about attending, what would you say?

There really isn’t an environment that is as forgiving as Startup Weekend. There aren’t expectations, there isn’t a bar you have to hit, or an idea that you have to create something that’s perfect.

There are no limitations, no expectations, and you have the ability to grow in whatever you’re working on. For me, I attended Startup Weekends and really wanted to work on public speaking. There is no other (traditional office) environment where you can be the youngest member of a team and pitch an idea to a board of directors. You just usually don’t get to practice like that unless you’re doing it for real.

Amazing. Thanks for sitting down and talking with us Rosemary! You summed up some of the best takeaways from the weekend: you get to meet incredibly smart people, be in an incredible environment, and challenge yourself to create something you didn’t even think possible.

It’s time. Get your Startup Weekend ticket now.

A little bit about Rosemary Garry – Three time Startup Weekend participant and winner!

As a startup enthusiast, Rosemary served as President of Ohio State University’s student entrepreneurship organization. Founding several of her own concepts throughout college (often through events like Startup Weekend), she discovered her biggest passion in her business consulting startup, specializing in new growth opportunities, consumer insights, and marketing strategies. In addition to her side hustle as a small-scale landlord, she now works as a Strategist an marketing agency specializing in data science optimization.

From Startup Weekend to Shark Tank: An Interview with Tom Burden

SHARK TANK - "Episode 912" - A U.S. Air Force fighter-jet machine-gun mechanic from Columbus, Ohio, introduces a high-performance problem-solver; an entrepreneur from Queens, New York, hopes the Sharks bite into a DNA test that aims to aid and optimize medical research; a Dallas, Texas, entrepreneur duo hopes to lure the Sharks with their high-tech solution for a common household chore; robots and drones are all the rage with boys, but one Bethesda, Maryland, entrepreneur is hoping to encourage more girls to get into coding and technology, on "Shark Tank," SUNDAY, NOV. 12 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) RICHARD BRANSON, MARK CUBAN, LORI GREINER, TOM BURDEN (GRYPMAT)

Startup Weekend is all about meeting great people, learning new things, and building something awesome.

There’s probably no better example of this than Tom Burden, who’s taken his Startup Weekend idea all the way to Shark Tank.

How did he pull it off?

SW Organizer Alex Bell caught up with Tom to learn exactly that.

Getting Traction

Alex: How did you find out about Startup Weekend and when did you first attend?

Tom: So, I first found out about Startup Weekend back in the day when I wanted to start doing the Grypmat, around the end of 2013.

I found the LaunchPad Incubator in Toledo and they had a business competition called Pitch & Pour. I applied to it and I got denied and then they were like “well, we’ve got an event called Startup Weekend” and I was like, “sweet, I’ll try it out” and ended up getting first place.

Around 2015, I started helping out with Columbus Startup Weekend after I realized it was like a networking powerhouse and there’s so much stuff that I could learn that I didn’t know from my startup, all of the tips and tricks of how to do things faster and easier.

If there’s a way to do it free, it’s at Startup Weekend, if there’s a way to find it as cheap as possible, it’s at Startup Weekend. There might be like a software program, like “hey, you can get a free or a trial version or if you actually use these other two softwares combined, it will give you the same output.”

So, yeah, it’s a very scrappy community.

Alex: So you had this idea for the Grypmat and you were just looking to really sink your teeth in, you wanted to go to this launch pad innovator/accelerator place and be part of their program but for whatever reason you weren’t legit enough for them, so they sent you to Startup Weekend first.

Tom: Yeah. It was just too early for the Pitch & Pour, Startup Weekend was more of where I was at in entrepreneurship – I needed to learn a lot more about startup stuff.

There was a lot of stuff that I didn’t even think about at the time, like how do you pitch an idea, make an effective presentation, how to be on stage, how do you describe your idea or get feedback from customers and stuff like that.

We tried to make a prototype over the weekend and it turned out horrible, like “OK, we’re not going to put that on stage.”

Alex: So Startup Weekend was kind of the perfect way to get Grypmat started, get some of those connections, get some of the skills built, get some of the threads of things that you can pull on to go further, like ‘OK, now I need to figure out this now, I need to learn that’.

Tom: Yeah.

Alex: That’s awesome. That first time you pitched the idea for the Grypmat and it was one of the ideas that were chosen for the weekend?

Tom: Yeah, I think they took like 10 ideas and mine was the tenth.

Alex: Was it specifically for aircraft then or what was your idea at that point?

Tom: Yeah, yeah. I was a National Guard F16 Weapons Mechanic at the time, so the idea was that whatever part of a jet you’re working on, you would have a different mat that’s form-fitted for that part of the jet.

Alex: That’s awesome. You mentioned you tried to build a prototype and it didn’t work out really well. What did that look like?

Tom: So we were trying out this grip material, like a paint that you can put on tool handles to grip them better.

I also bought some wire mesh – kind of like a screen door – and I would cut it into a shape that I wanted and then I try to coat it with the grip paint.

It just turned into a dripping mess and we ended up throwing it out.

Alex: Definitely not worthy of using in your final presentation.

Tom: Yeah, yeah. I wish I would have taken a picture of it and put that in the presentation, like ‘yeah, we tried to make a prototype, it didn’t work’.

Alex: That would have been great, judges and people in general like to see “here’s how hard we failed this weekend”

So you tried to make this prototype, did you just end up with a presentation, did you guys have some sort of like 3D AutoCAD kind of design or did you have anything for the presentation other than just “here’s us pitching the idea?”

Tom: Probably, the most impressive part of the presentation was that I had some of the material [that I make Grypmats out of].

I put the material on a stool and I put my iPod on top of it while playing a song, then I took the stool and I moved it so that iPod was vertical, still playing music.

I also had a model of a jet with little bits of material stuck to it to visually see that where we need this gripey material on the curved surfaces of a jet.

Alex: That makes sense, having a sort of visual aid that maybe doesn’t look pretty but shows what you were trying to do.

So all in all what was your impression of that first weekend? Obviously winning was a big highlight.

Staying Scrappy

Tom: Yeah, winning was super exciting and you feel like you’re on cloud nine.

Then Monday hits and you’re just like “everyone is just going to like me and everything’s going to work” and it doesn’t work that way.

I remember I was like “wow, I need to make a working prototype!”

I figured, if anyone can make it, it’s a college engineering department, so I just kept asking professor after professor after professor where I could go to get something made and people kept saying “I don’t know what you can do, and I have no idea anyone that you could go to.”

The thing you’ve got to understand is you’re not the top priority of these people’s lives, when you’re going to them, the chances of them being to execute what you need are slim – even if they can do it they might not want to make the time.

I finally got to talking with the Dean of Engineering and he was like “we’ve got this machine shop that could get it made.”

So I went to the machine shop, ended up making some stuff and none of it worked.

At the same time, I was talking to some people in charge of an innovation grant and they directed me to this prototyping company that was actually in Columbus.

That company told me that it was going to be $15000 to make a prototype and I was like “no, that’s outrageous. I can do a lot of the drawings and all the research and a lot of the stuff myself, I just need them to help make it, I don’t need $10,000 put into brainstorming, I just want this made.”

At the time there was some magic to being broke.

If I had $100,000 back then, I would have created a product that would have been complete trash but the thing is, if I have a $100,000 now, I can turn that into a million dollars probably within six months.

When you’re at that broke phase, well, there’s two ways you can go about it.

You can either say, A – “there’s no other route to go and I’m going to quit” or B – you can constantly say “how can this happen, how can we create a solution, get around this or is there another way or another avenue.”

I could have sat there – I actually did stop for three or four months when I was waiting to hear back from this prototyping company, I was just sitting around expecting them to do it.

Eventually I realized, if I work with this company, something may come to light, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to keep pushing my business forward.

So I went back to asking different professors for help and eventually found this company in Toledo that sells these two-part chemicals I needed to make Grypmats.

He just knew everything, “yeah, the best way to do it would be this,” “make sure you take this, release and spray it so it doesn’t stick to the wet mold,” – things it might have taken me a long time to figure out on my own.

So I finally got the answer I was looking for but it took a lot of people to get just that one answer.

And with that answer, I built the first Grypmat mold during Thanksgiving break in my dad’s barn and for about $60.

Alex: I imagine working through that was tough.

It sounds like it took a lot of heading back to the grindstone of “Oh, this might be a lead. No, this isn’t working out, what do I do now? Well, I could give up but is there a next thing? What’s that next thread that I can start pulling on to keep making some more progress?”

Tom: I would always envision that I wanted to try every single door to see if one opens and when one opens, who knows what I’d find on the other side.

That’s how I thought when I was going to all these different professors, “okay this door is locked or this door is not opening. Ok, here’s one that opened, what’s it going to? Well, it’s going to someone else that knows about these materials, OK we’re kind of making progress, now that led to making a prototype. Now, with the prototype, we can show people the product, what’s the next row of doors? Let’s get funding or how do we get this manufactured.”

You’re just constantly trying every single option or door you can get your hands on until one works.

Alex: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Solid life advice even outside of entrepreneurship.

So, you’ve been back to Startup Weekend since that first time, you mentioned the learning and networking as reasons why.

Tom: Yeah, the community is great. A lot of the best friends that I have now and the people that I work with are from Startup Weekend.

It’s not just professional networking, it’s also personal networking, making friendships and meeting like-minded people.

Also, I always felt like the people who organized Startup Weekend are like just on another level of being scrappy.  I’ve always felt that if I were to work with all of the Startup Weekend people, we would take over the world because you’re raising money and putting these events together to lay the foundation for all of these potential companies in your free time.

So, yeah, any of the organizers, the facilitators, they’ve always been like top notch, it’s always good to be around other people like that.

Making the Future

Alex: For sure.  This my first year of organizing and definitely, it’s cool learning from all the different people and figuring out how to make this thing work.

Next question is kind of a big one: what are you working on now?

Obviously, there’s the Grypmat – hopefully everybody’s seen your Shark Tank presentation.

For those that haven’t, you got a deal and now your Startup Weekend idea is a real company, you’ve got people working with you, you’re traveling around – what’s next?

Tom: So the next step is really expanding our team – this morning, I was talking with a couple of potential interns.

At the same time, we’re growing the Grypmat from something that’s just for Aviation into a product for tool organization.

So it started as “Oh, if you work on planes, you should probably get the Grypmat.”  Now it’s “if you work with tools or you like to be organized and you have physical things that aren’t being organized, you should probably get a Grypmat.”

We’re getting a lot of attention from automotive, military, medical, quite a few different spots within the beauty supplies, we’re experimenting and testing these different markets.

So, that’s kind of the direction of we’re growing into as a company.

And beyond just growing the company, the team and I are starting to see that the mat will be a great segue to get contacts and resources in nearly every single market.

In the future, if I have a product for military, I’m already going to know how to get a product within the military, if I have something for automotive, I’ll already have all the contacts to do so – we’ll be making a handful of phone calls to put things into motion rather than trying to build relationships.

Along with that, I want to be the model company for the Sharks, where they’ll need a system for a new company and I’ll say “well, this is how we’ve been doing it and it’s kind of scrappy, it’s kind of new, but it’s been extremely fruitful” and then they’ll basically have their other companies adopt those systems.

I guess that’s really the long-term vision – optimizing systems.

I mean, I think about what it would be like if we got to the point where Grypmat lowers costs for airlines, then they can drop their ticket prices to be more competitive and better serve their customers.

The same thing with Medicare – what if we get to the point where the operating room is so efficient that operations become less expensive.

I get it, it’s just a rubber tray right now, but I believe my strong point is inventing and seeing these flaws in the systems and I feel like Grypmat is just kind of a stepping stone for going further in that direction.

Alex: That’s awesome dude, I love how you’re aligning where you’ve been, what you’re doing today, and where you want to be in another 10 years so well.

Is there anything else you want to mention before I let you go?

Tom: Yeah, if you’re interested in entrepreneurship or startups or not, I think it’s definitely worth going to Startup Weekend.

I’ve never heard of anyone who has gone and didn’t find it life-changing or didn’t leave with a new friend or inspired; everyone who goes leaves with something that’s very impactful to their life.

Alex: Awesome, thanks for your time Tom!

To Learn More

Be sure to follow the latest Grypmant News on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you’re coming to our next Startup Weekend, you can meet Tom in person – he is Saturday’s featured speaker!

From Transportation Planner to Hack(er) in One Weekend

Guest post by Thea Walsh, MORPC Director of Transportation Systems & Funding

At the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), we love all things transportation. We know how powerful and effective a safe, reliable, efficient, and accessible transportation system can be in improving the quality of life of Central Ohio residents. And that’s why we are always working with local governments and regional organizations to embrace innovation in transportation. But we don’t interact nearly enough with the city’s entrepreneurs for ideas to make us think outside the planning bubble.

Startup Weekend Columbus: Smart City Edition was both MORPC’s and my first time spending a weekend with curious, passionate, and enthusiastic people who want to do amazing things to make our world better while also creating a successful business. This past weekend gave me a rare opportunity to put myself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, and what a frenetic, fun ride it was!

Smart City? Yes, we’ll help with that.

It’s not often the U.S. Department of Transportation announces a national competition worth $40 million to one winning city. Smart City is a chance for Columbus to become the country’s first fully deployed and integrated innovative city – with self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors in the transportation network. With Columbus chosen as one of just seven finalist cities, this is something to be proud of! The winner will be announced in June.

Winning the Smart City competition is the ultimate work of collaboration, and Startup Weekend embraced that attitude and even took it to the next level! More than 100 entrepreneurs started the competition by pitching ideas relating to a variety of Smart City verticals including transportation, infrastructure, internet accessibility, sustainability, internet accessibility, urban agriculture, energy, and more. From there, they formed teams around the top ideas as determined by a popular vote.

Startup Pitches to Results

We’ve worked in transportation for a long time, and all of our technological advances have started with taking a risk, research and data, collaboration, and conversation among those in the region.

The same is true of the Startup Weekend teams. Each team that I worked with was so eager to hear about MORPC and the information or data that would make their projects stronger. The enthusiasm for innovation was infectious. They were also passionate about finding the right end products for our Smart City, which was not always easy. On Sunday they shared their concept with the judges. This is not a “relaxing” weekend activity by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a very rewarding experience.

We’re All in This Together

I want to thank all of the Startup Weekend participants and volunteers for spending a weekend dreaming big, being bold, and sharing ideas. Congratulations to the winning team – Fender Defender – but the event did not end Sunday evening. In fact, on Monday morning at our weekly MORPC Leadership Team meeting, we recalled the many other innovative business concepts and started making plans to meet up with these entrepreneurs!

Finally, I leave this thought and impression of my weekend: Columbus has always been about cooperation and collaboration. We are the intersection where well-built relationships and technology come together. To us, it’s just… smart.

8 ways to win Columbus Startup Weekend: Smart City Edition

You’re about to attend Startup Weekend: Smart City Edition. What will it be like? How do themed events work? You’ve read the schedule, but maybe you’re still unsure about what to expect. This guide is for you.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: Anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, UX/design, and market validation. The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for feedback and to win prizes. This event is focused exclusively on Smart City ideas.

Not sure what making a “Smart City” is all about?

Building a ‘Smart City’ is about using innovation, data, and technology to streamline transportation, reduce pollution, minimize energy use, cut costs of city living, and connect citizens. This is an exciting time for Columbus because the city is competing against 6 other cities around the nation for over $60 million in federal grants to fund initiatives in sustainable transportation, smart logistics, and access to jobs—learn more here! A ‘Smart City’ is a city built for the future.

Some categories to get you started:

– Transportation
– Infrastructure
– Internet Accessibility
– Sustainability
– City Planning
– Water
– Energy
– Urban Agriculture
– Waste/Recycling

OK, now that you’re up to speed on what types of ideas are able to be pitched, let me tell you how to best take advantage of the time you have.

1.) Come with an idea

Obviously this event is about building awesome ideas. Do some homework looking at the categories above and thinking of some ideas around them. If you bring an awesome idea and form a talented team, you will get the most out of the event and maybe even walk away with some prizes!

2.) If you don’t have a serious idea, pitch something – anything!

Startup Weekend provides you with the rare opportunity of an incredibly open, friendly environment for you to practice getting in front of a crowd. I don’t care if you’re pitching the next UBER or on-demand cat food delivery, it’s worth pitching. Take advantage of the opportunity!

3.) Be ready to join another team

We will have a lot of ideas pitched. Mathematically, it’s impossible for all ideas, or even the majority of ideas to be built with a team. Keep an open mind and listen to the other pitches – chances are good that you’ll be joining on with another team and idea.

4.) Select your team intentionally

I cannot understate this: your experience will be driven by your team. You will be working hard with these folks for 54 hours, and you want them to be open, fun, smart people. It’s almost impossible to completely know on Friday evening if you’re going to be best friends with someone, but it’s pretty easy to get a feeling if you won’t get along with someone. Even more important than the idea you work on is the team you work with.

5.) Bring your business cards

This event is not about selling your products or services, but you will almost certainly meet a whole host of people you want to follow up with after. You may form lifelong friendships – seriously. Bring your personal cards and expect some authentic, deep networking.

6.) Come early Saturday for yoga

We will have Josie Schweitzer of Thank Yoga providing a free 30-minute session at 9am on Saturday morning. Namaste!

7.) Bring an appetite

We will be feeding you seven full meals during the course of the weekend from a slew of local providers. Outside of that, we’ll have snacks and drinks throughout the weekend as well. You will be well fed, so enjoy it!

8.) Make some social media noise

Columbus is a finalist for the $40 million Smart City grant! An initiative seeking to create a model city that uses data, technology & creativity to shape how people and goods are transported, this opportunity will change the future of our community.

Our event is aligned with the city’s efforts, and we’d love to support them through the event as well. Take advantage of the below hashtags to help Columbus rise to the top!


Are you convinced? Tickets for our next event, Smart City Edition, May 13-15 at Rev1 Ventures are still available! Click here to learn more and punch your ticket.

8 Things You’ll Learn at Columbus Startup Weekend

Guest Blog Post by Claire Coder, founder of Aunt Flow and second place winner of the 2015 Columbus Startup Weekend Health Edition.

Throughout StartUp Weekend, I continually heard the phrase, “Startup Weekend will change your life.” This never truly settled in until I decided to continue to pursue the idea that I had pitched, full time. 54 hours can change your life and here are some tidbits on how to make your experience the most memorable.

1. In the Startup scene, MVP does not mean “Most Valuable Player.” Google it

2. Caffeine inhalants are a real thing and were probably created by another entrepreneur staying up late trying to create an MVP for a different enterprise

3. Careful, Startup Weekend just might change your life. I actually dropped out of college to work on the idea that I pitched at the weekend

4. will be your life saver if you don’t have a graphic designer on your team

5. Suzy Bureau knows how to engage an audience; take notes on how she does it so you are ready to blow the judges away when it comes time to pitch

6. Hashtags are powerful #SWCBUS #socent #startup #fundauntflow

7. Market research is not a survey of 100 friends on survey monkey

8. The Startup community is super supportive… Speaking of support, Aunt Flow needs to raise $25,000 to move forward. YOU can make an impact at

I originally pitched Aunt Flow, as “SafetyPon,” and placed second at the 2015 Columbus Startup Weekend Health Edition. The social enterprise is a buy one, give one subscription based model for tampons. Following the weekend, and in just five months, I have hustled to take the business idea to the crowdfunding stage, be featured in a variety of publications, gain over 14k Twitter followers, and receive numerous awards for the business plan.

The business does not stop there. My true passion is to lessen the taboo of talking about tampons (and be on Ellen.) In this effort, I have created a YouTube channel where I ask women to share their most embarrassing period stories and I talk with men (Flow Bros) about everything menstrual related from cramps to period sex. Learn more about Aunt Flow at

Twitter @GoAuntFlow
Instagram @GoAuntFlow

Tickets for our next event, Smart City Edition, May 13-15 at Rev1 Ventures are still available! Click here to learn more and punch your ticket.