How Will Your Ideas be Judged at Startup Weekend Evansville?

The Startup Weekend Evansville judging criteria is broken up into four sections. Teams are judged according to the following criteria (weighed equally):

Product Execution:

  • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (be it software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimal feature set to be able to start collecting data.
  • How many iterations of the product have the done throughout the weekend? Successful product execution should be able to show you a roadmap of where they started and how they have collected data to evolve their product. A great SW team should be able to make it through many cycles of data collection throughout the weekend.
  • Were they able to demo something functional?

Business Model Validation:

  • Can you identify a clear customer segment?
  • Can you identify a clear value proposition to that customer?
  • How many customers did you talk to in the weekend? 
  • How have you validated your solution with the customers?
  • How will you acquire customers? 
  • What differentiates your model from competitors?


  • What are your users core needs?
  • How many users have you engaged with?
  • What feedback have you gotten to inspire your user feature set?
  • Tell me based off your user insights why your product looks this way? 
  • Tell me based off your user insights why your product feels this way? 


  • Who is your team made up of? 
  •  Why can this team take your idea to the next level?
  • What has your team done this weekend to show you can go above and beyond all other startups to become successful? 

When it’s Time to Pursue Your Idea

From a recent article in Forbes by the Muse, I was inspired to share their four ways to know it’s time to pursue your idea because they run parallel with the desired goals and outcomes of Startup Weekend Evansville.

“Ideas…They’re fantastically fun to throw out and thrash around, but making them happen is a daunting prospect. Especially when you’re looking for an idea that can bloom into a business.

So how do you know if your idea is strong enough to plough ahead? Or invest? Or quit your day job? There’s certainly no science to it, but there are some things that help make the decision easier—so that when you do take the plunge, it feels less like a plunge and more like a shallow dive.

In an attempt to make this a more interesting read, let’s check out some signature moves from famous old prodigies and see what they can teach us.

1. The Darwin: Share Your Idea

Darwin didn’t hide away in a black box and magically resurface with his theory of evolution. He wrote stacks of letters to other scientists, journalists, and friends to pressure test and develop his theory before he was ready to share it with the world.

I find it deeply infuriating when people say “I have an idea” and follow it quickly with “but I can’t tell you about it.” The notion that people are idea-goblins, waiting to steal your genius and launch it before you do is, on the whole, quite absurd. Having ideas is the easy bit. Making them happen is where the real hard slog starts.

So set aside the conspiracy theories and get sharing. It really is critical. By circulating an idea, you strengthen, build, and evolve it into a more robust thing. In short, you’re upping its chance of survival by allowing it to adapt to feedback and input. As a bonus, sharing also gets you in the habit of pitching (and defending) your idea; and the sooner you can practice conversing like an entrepreneur, the better.

2. The Alexander: Have a Cunning Plan

If planning battles was as sexy as fighting them, perhaps we would have celebrated Alexander the Great’s strategic chops as well as his swordsmanship. Whether invading Thessaly or Thebes, he knew exactly what had to be done and how to do it.

The same diligence must be applied to start-ups; and creating a business model is a great place to start. It forces you to address your shortcomings and decide whether or not you can overcome them. No idea is perfect, but deciding early on where your weaknesses are and how to conquer them is a big time and energy saver in the long run.

Creating a business model will also give you a taste for the hard work involved with starting a business. There’s a Hollywood-style myth currently doing the rounds about the start-up that gets acquired for a billion dollars after a year or so of what looks like very fun work. Start-ups are indeed fun, but it’s important to not gloss over the intense hours, sweat, and work—and the planning—they require.

3. The Galileo: Trust Your Gut

This isn’t the “are you willing to be incarcerated for your idea” test, but there is something to be said about trusting your gut. Only a lunatic would have rocked the boat as much as Galileo did without dogmatic belief in his idea.

My own “trust your gut” moment came eight months in. I’d been trying relentlessly to find partners to help me build my site. It had been fruitless and laborious and I had pretty much given up. But then I noticed a pattern. When I went out on the town, I’d find myself talking about my idea heatedly, and repeatedly. I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t abandon it. I believed in it too much to let it slide.

 4. The JFK: Up the Ante

Once JFK announced to the world that America would be the first nation to put a man on the moon, there was no turning back. An ambition had been declared and now it had to happen.

As an entrepreneur, start looking for ways to up your own ante and terrify yourself (just a little). Yes, start-ups are lean and should operate with prudence, but until you take a bold action to transport your idea from your head to the real world, it really is just an idea. Actively pursuing ways to make it real will force you to commit with new tenacity. For me, this moment came when I wrote my first check. I felt the stakes rise and my commitment triple once I paid for logo design. Until then, my idea was just an idea.

If you have a business idea of your own, these are all things you can do, and should be doing, now. They’re more than just best practices, they’re tricks to help you build confidence. And confidence counts. Having conviction in your idea and conviction that you can deliver on it is what will make “taking the plunge” feel less like a risk and more like an inevitability”. – The Muse

If you are at this point of thinking and thinking about your idea, realize you are not the only one pondering the same market problems and solutions.  Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, ideas are commodities.  It’s only a matter of time from when someone steps forward and brings their idea into the “light” that the reality of validation can begin.  Life is too short to wonder what if.  Take an easy step at Startup Weekend Evansville.

If you seek change, you are an entrepreneur and Startup Weekend Evansville wants you.

“While the news is full of stories of business geniuses and technology gurus who build multimillion-dollar companies seemingly overnight, being an entrepreneur is a journey.  Do you see a problem and have an idea for an innovative solution?  Be it in the realm of the arts, education, engineering, health care, and beyond, your desire to create change makes you an entrepreneur” – Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company From Concept to Creation in 54 Hours

You may be an entrepreneur and not even realize it.  If you resonate with the aforementioned, you are not alone.  Even if you have never launched a product, service, or started a business.  Entrepreneurship is more than the explicit startup.  Entrepreneurship is a mindset.  Entrepreneurial mindset development involves connections.  Multiplicities of connections abound at Startup Weekend.  The first step is connecting with likeminded individuals that allow you to be and think the way you do.  The ethos of Startup Weekend Evansville is openness to new ideas and acceptance of all perspectives.

Startup Weekend Evansville helps harness the raw power of creativity and human potential by empowering individuals and teams to build and validate the solutions to the opportunities and problems they see and feel every day. Through Startup Weekend Evansville, people are able to pursue their passions and find the people they need to transform their vision into reality, while providing opportunities to learn how to succeed not only on a local level, but with the ability and potential to become a high-growth venture. We at Startup Weekend Evansville are confident these opportunities will influence hundreds and ultimately thousands of entrepreneurs and contribute to an infrastructural change and cultural movement that will positively impact our communities and ultimately our economy.

54 hours can change your life and potentially, the world.  Come play with us!

-Bryan K. Bourdeau – Co-founder Startup Weekend Evansville

Parking for Startup Weekend Bloomington

Startup Weekend Parking Map – 2014

Here’s a map to help Startup Weekend Bloomington 2014 participants find free parking for the event!

Buy Tickets HERE!

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Prepping Your Friday Pitch

One of the most important parts of Startup Weekend is the Pitch Fire session on Friday night. Anyone who wants to pitch gets 60 seconds to convince the crowd that their business idea is interesting, feasible, and meaningful. Teams will form around the top ideas pitched, so your pitch has to be one of the best! Sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be. Check out a few of our tips to help you craft the perfect pitch.

6 Elements of a Good Pitch

1. Focus on the problem you want to solve

How does your business idea solve a problem for you customer? Why is this an important problem to solve? How did this problem inspire you to create a business idea? This is usually the most important part of your pitch!

2. Mention how you think the problem should be solved

What’s the solution to the problem? What product or service are you planning to create? Only spend a few seconds on this! You have to entire weekend to work through a solution.

3. Talk about your secret sauce

What’s unique about your product or service? Do you bring any special skills or knowledge to the table?

4. Tell us what you already know

Have you already done a little work on your business? Market research, customer validation, a business plan?

5. Showcase your winning personality

Show your potential team members how awesome you’ll be to work with! People want to be on teams with passionate, motivated, and interesting leaders.Be open and welcoming of new ideas.

6. Show up with an idea that does something meaningful

How will your business make your customers lives better? Will your business make the world a better place to live?

4 Pitch Pitfalls

1. Don’t go into too much detail about how your solution works. That’s what the rest of the weekend is for!

2. Don’t spend too long on your personal background, this pitch is about the problem you’re solving.

3. Don’t be boring, make people remember you and make sure you seem fun/good to work with

4. Don’t leave the stage without telling the crowd who you need on your team (designers, developers, marketers, etc.) and make sure to name your pitch/idea!Something people can remember later.

Anatomy of a Pitch

A pitch should be unique to you, but some structure never hurts as a place to start. A simple template may look like:

[10 sec] Introduce and sell yourself
[20-30 sec] Describe the problem you want to solve
[10-20 sec] Describe your solution (e.g. explain the product)
[10 sec] What do you need to be successful during the weekend? ( people, skills, tools, etc )

We hope this helps you get prepared for SW Btown! We’ll see you next weekend.


Michiana: A Community of Makers

Being a maker, and being around other makers is incredibly fulfilling. That creativity, desire to help others, unconventional problem solving, and overall positive energy is something that drives me. For more than a year now, I’ve been regularly visiting The MakerHive. It’s a great group of people who all love 3D printing, laser cutting, designing circuitry, programming robots, and anything else that you can imagine. Better yet, we all believe in the open source philosophy and are there to help each other. What an amazing group to be a part of!


That’s also why I’m so excited about Startup Weekend Maker Michiana. We live in a community of creative people who haven’t realized how much of a difference they can make. By simply pitching an idea and working with a team to develop and mature that idea for a weekend, we will make incredible things. People with ideas will become makers, people who already identify as makers will help people that they wouldn’t otherwise have known, and together we’ll solve real problems and truly better everyone.
Do you have a need or idea to pitch at Startup Weekend Maker Michiana? Would you like to learn more about 3D printing and some of the other disruptive technologies that are taking the world by storm? Do you have creative and artistic skills that would help others realize their true potential? Please join us on November 14-16 to MAKE those dreams a reality!

Jim Spencer


Startup Weekend Organizer

Senior MakerHive Member


Inside Indiana Business Features Startup Event

On October 6, Inside Indiana Business introduced Startup Weekend Michiana 2014 to its readers as “an event to boost entrepreneurship is set for next month at LaunchPad in downtown Goshen. Three Degrees of Separation, a South Bend-based business community organization, says Startup Weekend Maker Michiana will bring together developers, coders, designers and engineers.”

The press release that followed is written below:


SOUTH BEND, Ind. – This week Three Degrees will be hosting the official launch of Startup Weekend Maker Michiana, an all weekend event where creatives of all kinds (business people, developers, coders, designers, makers/engineers) come together to bring a start-up idea to life.

Local entrepreneur Eric Kanagy, CEO of RedPost, is excited about having one of the first maker-themed Startup Weekends in the nation to Michiana.

According to Kanagy, “Our region is actually leading the nation in micro-manufacturing, with 3D printers and small batch manufacturing taking over from traditional, capital-intensive methods. Startup Weekend will give us a small glimpse into this massive shift that’s happening right under our noses.”

This year’s Startup event will be hosted in downtown Goshen and will be a little different from past competitions. Participants will be asked to pitch an idea, form a team, and then develop that idea from paper to a real-life object. Judges will be present to choose the winners of the best start-up idea.

Three Degrees of Separation, a South Bend community group, meets Tuesday at 6 PM in the St. Joseph Public Library downtown South Bend.

Three Degrees exists to collaborate and facilitate connections between local entrepreneurs, develop new start-up ideas, and offer resources and support for business development.

Startup Weekend Details:
When: November 14-16
Where: Launchpad, 232 S. Main St., Goshen.
Registration/More info: