What a night!

40+ budding entrepreneurs showed up last tonight at the brand new Engineering Facility of the University of Alaska Fairbanks for a 54-hour whirlwind of entrepreneurship, innovation, and learning.

The President of the University of Alaska, Dr. Jim Johnsen, kicked off the night: “If not you, who? If not now, when? If not this, what? Build the future of Alaska!”

After a crazy game of “Half Baked” (half-baked startup ideas ranging from chocolate 3D printers to pickled ice-cream delivery subscriptions…), we went on to the real pitch-fire.

24 diverse ideas were pitched (1min, not more!). Voting was tough but we came down to 8 top teams after a couple of crazy voting rounds and team mergers.

Get the scoop about the top teams selected at Startup Weekend Fairbanks:

Top teams selected at Startup Weekend Fairbanks

Looking forward to seeing you for Day 2 of Techstars Startup Weekend Fairbanks!

– Marion

A Successful Startup Requires All Professions

Rapid technological advancement has created a strange association with the word ‘innovation.’ People hear this word and assume that the ‘innovation’ must have been technological in nature.  The same could be said about the word ‘startup.’ Media fixation with HBO shows like Silicon Valley, as well as a fixation with the actual Silicon Valley, CA with its thousand of tech startups, leave many thinking these entrepreneurial opportunities are geared for programmers, engineers, and research scientists.
This is not entirely true.
A number of the 10 Top Up-and Coming Startups are non-tech in nature. In fact, notes in their article that Will Schroter, CEO of Fundable, as identifying a major trend of moving away from tech-only startups and apps. This means the origin of innovation can come from any profession–artist, chef, farmer, postal worker, etc. Alice Rawsthorn makes this point in her 2016 TED Talk Pirates, nurses and other rebel designers. The innovations she highlights comes from the most unexpected sources (Blackbeard, really?). Instead Rawsthorn focuses on the traits necessary to implement innovation: bold thinking, vision, and persistence.
Fairbanks Startup Weekend is about gathering all the visionaries in one room and unleashing all that bold thinking and persistence into a 54-hour mission to build a viable business model. Intense? Yes. Super fun? Super yes! And the best part is that you won’t be alone. There will be a facilitator, mentors, and coaches to help you a long the way. So regardless if your product is tech-based or not, it’s more important to have people who are passionate about contributing their skills to unified vision.
Bring your ideas to our Friday pitch session, join up with a startup team and develop an idea on Saturday, and present your business model on Sunday. We provide everything (like food) to keep you going throughout the weekend.

What is Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekends are weekend-long, hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if startup ideas are viable. On average, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, the other half have business backgrounds.
Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.
Watch this “Startup Weekend for First Timers” to learn more!
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Marion Desmazières, Facilitator

We are happy to announce Marion Desmazières is our Fairbanks Startup Weekend Facilitator for the 2018 event! She is an experienced Startup Weekend organizer, and energetic facilitator. Marion is quite the entrepreneur herself, though she currently spends her days working  as a tech business developer based in Seattle, WA.

Marion runs developer education partnerships for Alexa, the voice service powering Amazon’s popular Echo devices. Before joining Amazon two years ago, Marion coordinated Global Startup Battle in 2012 and managed partner relations for Startup Weekend HQ in Seattle. She holds a Master’s in Business Management from EDHEC Business School and an MBA in Technology Commercialization from the University of Alberta. A Startup Weekend veteran, Marion has facilitated 20+ events in France, Canada, the US, Algeria and Morocco.

Sign up for Fairbanks Startup Weekend at gain insights from Marion and others while developing your own startup from the ground up!

Startup Weekend: Judging Criteria

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally):

  • Business Model

    • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?

  • Customer Validation

    • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?


  • Execution & Design

    • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?