What is Startup Weekend Louisville, Part 6

It’s time again for Startup Weekend Louisville! Our 11th consecutive event is coming up this October, and we’re so excited to be bringing this 54 hour frenzy of fun, innovation, networking, and entrepreneurship back again!

Check out the recap of Startup Weekend Louisville #10, held at the Kentucky Science Center and LouieLab in April 2017.

Since this will be our eleventh event, we’ve learned a great deal about what Startup Weekend actually is, but many people that haven’t been still don’t know. One of the most common questions we get is “What is Startup Weekend?” We want to answer that with the words of the people that have been there.

Welcome back to “What is Startup Weekend Louisville?”

In this ongoing series, we’ll present what past attendees have to say about their time at Startup Weekend Louisville. We hope it will give you a better picture of how and why we do Startup Weekend in Louisville. We’ll be posting accounts, results, and stories from past attendees as we get closer to Startup Weekend Louisville #11 on October 13-15, 2017.

For this installment of “What is Startup Weekend Louisville?” we’re going long-form and all the way back to the very first Startup Weekend Louisville. Melissa Chipman was the only woman to attend that inaugural event and she ended up on the winning team, City Anchor. What she had to say about her experience at the very first Startup Weekend Louisville in September 2012 first appeared in a series of articles at Insider Louisville, reprinted and linked here with the author’s permission.

This is a long read, but it’s probably the best play-by-play of Startup Weekend Louisville we’ve ever seen. Also, Melissa has been active with Startup Weekend Louisville ever since. She has been and attendee, a volunteer, and part of the organizing team.

If you’re interested in the original articles, they can be found here: Part OnePart Two, and Part Three.

Part One:

For the first forty-five minutes, I am the only woman at the event.

It’s Startup Weekend Louisville, a 54-hour marathon event that gathers developers, designers, and business people and propels them from startup pitch through business creation to presentation to local entrepreneurial leaders.

And it’s a room full of men at the U of L Med Center 2.

We network.

We eat from a buffet provided by Taco Punk.

We drink Rooibee Red Tea or Falls City Beer.

And then the presentation starts. Just minutes after Zachary Cohn, the Seattle-based representative from Startup Weekend, starts to speak, a second woman shows up.

By the end of the night, I’m no longer sure that she’s stuck around.

Startup Weekend is a boot camp for entrepreneurs. There have been more than 700 Startup Weekend events in 85 countries from the United States to Kenya to Mongolia. Three hundred and twenty cities have hosted Startup Weekends, but this is the first time the event has been in Louisville.

More than 70,000 people have participated in Startup Weekends worldwide.

This weekend alone, there are 14 Startup Weekends happening everywhere from Louisville to Auckland, New Zealand.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle where Cohn works also with Google, national sponsor of the event.
Local host sponsors are University of Louisville and Forge. Adam Fish, of Forge and Roobiq; Nick Such of Awesome Inc. in Lexington and BuildingLayer; and Nick Huhn, a digital strategist and consultant brought the event to Louisville.

The kick-off guest speaker is Fred Durham, former CEO and founder of Cafe Press. Durham described himself as a “recovering entrepreneur” who began Cafe Press in 1999 in his garage in California.

He’s a slight man, wearing a striking red tee-shirt with the words “Cassius Clay” on it. Appropriate, of course, that his tee-shirt makes an impression as Cafe Press made its bones by printing tee-shirts on demand and has grown to offer more than 600 customizable products on demand.

It’s been a huge success, Cafe Press, but this was Durham’s tenth business, and up until Cafe Press took off, he described himself as a “serial failure.”

He says, “If you’re going to fail, do it fast, and do it cheap.”

While his other nine businesses felt like trying to “push a car uphill,” when he launched Cafe Press he said it was like trying to “push a car downhill.” It ran away from him and his partner, and they had to scramble to fulfill the promises that they made to potential clients.
Durham sold Cafe Press right before it went public, which, he said, is the right way to do it. He came to Louisville to transition the business to the new CEO, and he ended up falling in love with the city. He completed the transfer and then moved his wife and children to Louisville.
He’s confident in the “possibility” inherent in “Possibility City,” and hopes to start a small-business incubator in the city in the next year.
Durham gave this advice to the Startup Weekend attendees: “If you can fail for 99 bucks [the cost of the event] in a single weekend the way we used to fail for a million bucks over the course of a year… shit, that’s a really big deal.”

After Durham speaks, Cohn launches a very welcome alternative to traditional “ice-breakers.” It’s a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors… WAR!” where attendees battle each other in a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” where the losers must cheer on the winners. By the end of the contest (which takes less than five minutes), two winners are left, backed by 30 or so roaring cheerleaders. Adam Klaers, owner of Xterra Consulting and Derby City Pedicabs emerges victorious.

Then the meat of the evening begins, 16 attendees give 60-second pitches for startups. Ideas range from tangible products to aps to services. And after the pitches conclude, we’re given 25 minutes to network – to ask further questions of the pitchers, to see if the pitchers need our services.

By the end of the fifteen minutes, I’ve given out nearly all of the healthy chunk of business cards I’ve brought, and then we’re asked to vote on our favorite projects.

I choose to throw my support behind two projects, both of which are, in their startup phase, Louisville-centric. Seven projects receive enough votes to be pushed through to development phase, and only one of the two that I supported makes the cut. So I join that team.
We split off into business meetings, each attendee rallying behind the startup that they most supported. And business plans start to emerge.
I have to admit, ever since I paid the $75 early-registration fee and committed to attend Startup Weekend, I’ve been concerned. I know that the Louisville startup and tech communities are heavily man-centric and not as welcoming as I’d like to non-tech folks. I worried that as a female, creative professional, I’d be the last kid picked for the dodgeball team.

But fifteen minutes into the business meetings, Dave Durand of Forest Giant pokes his head into my conference room and tells me that even though his idea hadn’t made the cut, he’s still forming a team (totally allowable in Startup Weekend rules). And he wants me to defect.
And after much bellyaching and feelings of betrayal, I do.

We’ll see how it all works out tomorrow.

But I still don’t get the man-centric nature of these events.

Why is the Louisville startup/tech community so dominated by men?

Hopefully I’ll be able to unpack that this weekend.

Part Two: 

I’d like to be able to say that the one benefit of being the sole woman among approximately forty male participants of Startup Weekend Louisville (not to mention all of the mentors, all of the hosts, all of the judges, the keynote speaker, and the Startup Weekend representative) is that at least the women’s bathroom is super clean.

It’s not. It smells pretty awful in there, like maybe the cleaning person made lunch of a couple dozen raw oysters that had turned.
There is one major benefit to being the only woman at Startup Weekend: I stand out. And at a networking event, you can’t beat that with a stick.

A bunch of times today, I had people I didn’t know call me by name, reference my blog, ask about last night’s Insider Louisville post.
Several times on Twitter today, I was asked – by men and women – two questions: (1) why there are no women at Startup Louisville? and (2) how to get women to come to these kinds of events?

The answer to (1) is very simple: I have no idea.
The answer to (2) is more complicated.

But before I get into that I want to be clear: the past 30-plus hours have been a dream. I don’t think I was this excited when I started my own freelancing business.

My concerns about being a woman in a man-heavy environment were unfounded.

I’m on a team with three brilliant guys who value my input and who share the work of our startup equally. Not a soul at the event has made me feel like a “girl” (which is good, seeing I left “girl”-hood behind around a decade ago).

I will be sad when this event is over, even though I am sleep-deprived and way over-caffeinated.

Seriously, I consumed so much Heine Brothers’ coffee (an event sponsor) today that I may, in fact, be levitating.

Startup Weekend is like summer camp. For nerds. These are my people.

Back to the “women problem” of startup events in Louisville. I point to the parenthetical statement I made in paragraph one of this article. When you have no women hosting, mentoring, judging, speaking, or representing the parent organization, that’s a problem.

Grace Simrall, a tech-driven entrepreneur and founder of iGlass Analytics, dropped in on the event at my invitation. But she’s not on the list of mentors or hosts. Michelle Jones, of the Consuming Louisville empire, whose iPhone ap, Menu and Hours was recently called the “perfect restaurant ap” by Fast Company, couldn’t attend because the event overlaps Rosh Hashanah (come on, Louisville– do better).

The closest we have to women “representing” at Startup Weekend Louisville is a sponsorship by Rooibee Red Tea.

Many mentors were afoot today, and I’m afraid that most of the other teams made better use of them. They included:
Alex Frommeyer, Beam Brush
Andrew Spendlove, GlowTouch Technologies
Greg Langdon, angel investor
Lou Kelmanson, Kelmanson Holdings
John Williamson, UCloser

My team was nose-to-the-grindstone starting at 9 a.m.

I’d been up until almost 4 a.m. working (of course, some of that midnight oil was spent writing last night’s article); a couple of my team members are morning people who’d started working at 5am.

As far as I’m concerned, I have the best possible team. There are only four of us, so we make decisions quickly. All four of us are so diversified that there’s no jockeying for responsibility. We’re a designer, a back end coder, a front end coder, and me– the project manager and networker. Our roles are clearly defined, and we’re largely autonomous.

Today was full-speed ahead for us. But other teams weren’t as lucky.

Some teams were pivoting as late as 7 p.m. today. One team went through more than seven business models before deciding on one that had nothing to do with the original pitch.

My team is CityAnchor. I need to keep the specifics a little close to my vest, but it’s our hope to not only be live, but perhaps even generating revenue by the time we present to the judges tomorrow at 5 p.m.

That’s huge. And exciting.

And I have faith in this.

Today Startup Weekend was 100-percent work. The designer is designing, the coders are coding, and I pulled in a number of social media experts for focus groups and to check out the mock-up for our mobile website and I am working on the website copy.
Tomorrow we start back up again at 9 a.m. and have work time until we break at 5p.m.

We’ll have dinner (tonight’s was provided by J.Gumbo’s – looking forward to seeing who’s bringing dinner tomorrow), and then we’ll pitch to the judges.

The panel of judges are:
Kent Oyler – founder of High Speed Access (first tech IPO from KY) and OPM.
Doug Cobb – Entrepreneur-in-residence at Chrysalis Ventures
Bob Saunders – Managing Director at Saunders Capital
Lou Kelmanson – angel investor
Fred Durham – Founder & former CEO of CafePress (who was Friday’s keynote)

We’ve been given a set of judging criteria, but what the “winning” team wins is still unclear to me.

But that’s just fine, in my case. Unless something goes terribly awry tomorrow, we’ll have an actual business founded and launched by 5 p.m., and that’s enough of a win for me.

People are tweeting about Startup Weekend Louisville using the hashtag #swlou.

And I know I said I have to keep my team’s information on the down low, but we’re already tweeting at @CityAnchor, and you can friend us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CityAnchor.

I’ll be live-tweeting the presentation process from @CityAnchor.

If you’d like to see the presentations in person, you can come to the UofL MedCenter 2 on Sunday at 5pm. Read more about all six teams at the Startup Weekend Louisville blog. Join us, we’re proud and excited– all forty-something of us.

By the way, I have no idea what happened to the other woman who showed up last night. I was so consumed by my role as participant today that I utterly neglected my reportorial role.

But either she’s one of the Silence from Doctor Who, or she didn’t show up today.

Either way, I am relatively certain she’s not responsible for the women’s bathroom issue.

Part Three:

Anchors Aweigh!

When Dave Durand, CEO of Forest Giant, came to Startup Weekend, he was there to be a mentor.

After all, he’d started a number of businesses and even sold one. But the thrill of the startup was too much of a pull, and he joined 15 other entrepreneurs in Friday night’s pitch session.

But Durand’s business idea for a local blog aggregator didn’t make the cut when it came down to voting to create teams.
Fifteen minutes after joining a team that wasn’t sure it was going to be able to see its product through in a weekend, Durand bolted and chose to create his own team anyway.

By the time Durand asked me to defect from Game City, he’d already poached two other team members. Shane Logsdon is a back end web developer with Blackstone Media and a freelancer. Ukiah Smith is a front end web developer for Power Creative and owner of Faction42, a company that creates websites.

Durand is the design guy. In addition to being a freelance journalist, I’ve been blogging about Louisville for six years at My Loueyville, and I just launched Chipman Creative, a writing, editing, and social media business.

I’m project manager/networking for the CityAnchor team.

We were the smallest team. We were the one team that wasn’t supposed to exist. And as I have mentioned in my previous articles, I was the only woman at the event.

Over the course of the fifty-some hour event, we went from Durand’s pitch to revenue-generating startup with a live (albeit still buggy) product.

We call it CityAnchor.

CityAnchor is a curated event, arts, music, and food blog aggregator. The live version of CityAnchor currently includes 16 Louisville blogs. We vet our blogs, so only the most trusted voices are collected on CityAnchor. If you’re a local, we’re a one-stop shop for all of the best culture blogs in the city. If you’re a visitor to Louisville, you can check out CityAnchor and see what the locals are doing and promoting.
On Saturday, we put a market survey online and brought in a focus and demo group of movers and shakers in the Louisville arts and social media community, including Kirsty Gaukel, PR Director for Actors Theatre; Kyle Ware, director of Tourism Honors Academy, artist, and member of Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble; and Richard Meadows, social media expert.

We also hit social media hard. As I am writing, we have 110 followers on Twitter and 72 “likes” on Facebook. Not too shabby for a little more than 24 hours. Leveraging my 2150+ followers on Twitter (@loueyville), CityAnchor also pulled in three “founding sponsors” on Sunday: Nuts N Stuff, a bulk retailer on Barret Ave; Social Concierge, a new social media startup; and Derby City Chop Shop, the stylish barber shop on Bardstown Road.

We were the only startup to start generating revenue by presentation time, a fact that won us good favor from the judges.

At 6 p.m. on Sunday, the six remaining teams pitched their ideas in front of a packed room and a panel of five judges:

Kent Oyler – founder of High Speed Access (first tech IPO from KY) and OPM.
Doug Cobb – Entrepreneur-in-residence at Chrysalis Ventures
Bob Saunders – Managing Director at Saunders Capital
Lou Kelmanson – angel investor
Fred Durham – Founder & former CEO of CafePress

Only five of the six teams had an actual startup to pitch. The sixth and final presenting team had pivoted and failed so many times that their presentation, which earned a standing ovation, ended up being about what not to do.

Nick Huhn, the presenter and one of the hosts of Startup Weekend Louisville, gave the presentation, and at the afterparty at Garage Bar, we discovered that it had not been caught on video. If it had, it should have been mandatory viewing at all future Startup Weekend events.
The remaining five startups hit it out of the park with their presentations.

SproutHub is a mobile farmers’ market – a food truck that sells produce direct from farmers. You can find out where the SproutHub truck will be by monitoring a map app or by receiving text messages from the service.

Game City is an app that “gamifies” attending local events. Earn points by checking into an event – a festival, a play, a marathon, a local business– and redeem those points for discounted entry to events, prizes, and other incentives.

Gwaled (pronounced “wallet”) is a mobile app that stores and manipulates loyalty rewards data. Customers can trade loyalty cards and give them as gifts.

PT Pal had a slick presentation for their web-based and app-supported physical therapy monitoring company. Physical therapists can monitor patients’ in-home exercise participation, using guilt-driven accountability and a rewards system to help patients heal better faster.

After Durand’s presentation, Meadows, who also attended the pitch to the judges, came up to the CityAnchor table, grabbed a note pad, and wrote his reaction. The sticky note simply read, “AWESOME.”

While the judges conferred, the rest of us mingled and networked. Twice in that twenty minutes, I was told that there were two or three “viable business models” among the five presenters – and both times, CityAnchor wasn’t one of them.

Zach Cohn, from the Startup Weekend HQ in Seattle, reconvened the meeting to announce the winners.

And CityAnchor won.

Won!

Me and my guys? We won the inaugural Startup Weekend Louisville.








What is Startup Weekend Louisville, Part 5

It’s time again for Startup Weekend Louisville! Our 11th consecutive event is coming up this October, and we’re so excited to be bringing this 54 hour frenzy of fun, innovation, networking, and entrepreneurship back again!

Check out the recap of Startup Weekend Louisville #10, held at the Kentucky Science Center and LouieLab in April 2017.

Since this will be our eleventh event, we’ve learned a great deal about what Startup Weekend actually is, but many people that haven’t been still don’t know. One of the most common questions we get is “What is Startup Weekend?” We want to answer that with the words of the people that have been there.

Welcome back to “What is Startup Weekend Louisville?”

In this ongoing series, we’ll present what past attendees have to say about their time at Startup Weekend Louisville. We hope it will give you a better picture of how and why we do Startup Weekend in Louisville. We’ll be posting accounts, results, and stories from past attendees as we get closer to Startup Weekend Louisville #11 on October 13-15, 2017.

Take a look at what Dave Mattingly has to say about his experience with CompassioNote, the winning team at Startup Weekend Louisville #8 in March 2016. Dave’s thoughts originally appeared on his blog, here.

“It’s sort of a cross between MacGyver and Shark Tank.”

This weekend, I built a new company with people I didn’t know.

It’s all part of the amazing event that is Startup Weekend. This happens in cities around the world every weekend.
This is my third time participating in a Startup Weekend, and my team won first place!

If you’ve never been to a Startup weekend, I recommend it.

A hundred or so people get together and pitch ideas to each other on Friday night, then we gather around the ones we like the best. We spend Saturday researching, building, and talking to potential customers to see if the idea is one that people want. Then we spend Sunday polishing it up to we can present our final 5-minute pitches to a panel of judges, who make their decision based on factors such as team-to-customer interviews, a working prototype, ongoing viability, and potential market size.

It’s sort of a cross between MacGyver and Shark Tank.

We all start with nothing but ideas, and after 54 hours of feverish activity, one team walks away on top.

I love doing it because it’s a great way to meet to people, hear new ideas, work on a short-term project that excites you, learn a new methodology or industry or technology, and have a final product of some sort to show when you’re done.

Our team initially started off with a sad story that we didn’t want to see repeated.

Kartik Kamat told us that his retired friend and mentor had passed away, but that he didn’t hear about it until well after. Kartik’s pitch was that we’d build a tool to notify us as soon as there’s an obituary for our friends and loved ones that we don’t have daily contact with.

Many of us had similar experiences, and we formed a team to help.

We found that the idea resonated with a lot of people, and although we originally envisioned our target customer as HR departments that would want to keep track of former employees (after all, if someone has been there a long time and made a lot of friends, they probably want to hear about it after the employee had retired). But we found out that HR tended to care more about current employees than former ones, and suggested that sales teams would be more interested.

That was our lightbulb moment. Imagine being a salesperson with a list of a few hundred clients and a few thousand prospects. If one of them passes away, you’d at least like the option to send a card or flowers. Providing personal service like that, when it’s most needed, can cement a lifelong customer relationship.

We pivoted our efforts, and found that we can purchase obituary information for the entire country, and integrate it with professional sales tools like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Goldmine, and others.

We built a personal-use web version (that you can try here), to make sure we had a functional process, but we expected that the real money would come in from professionals whose careers are built upon relationships with very large numbers of people.








What is Startup Weekend Louisville, Part 4

It’s time again for Startup Weekend Louisville! Our 11th consecutive event is coming up this October, and we’re so excited to be bringing this 54 hour frenzy of fun, innovation, networking, and entrepreneurship back again!

Check out the recap of Startup Weekend Louisville #10, held at the Kentucky Science Center and LouieLab in April 2017.

Since this will be our eleventh event, we’ve learned a great deal about what Startup Weekend actually is, but many people that haven’t been still don’t know. One of the most common questions we get is “What is Startup Weekend?” We want to answer that with the words of the people that have been there.

Welcome back to “What is Startup Weekend Louisville?”

In this ongoing series, we’ll present what past attendees have to say about their time at Startup Weekend Louisville. We hope it will give you a better picture of how and why we do Startup Weekend in Louisville. We’ll be posting accounts, results, and stories from past attendees as we get closer to Startup Weekend Louisville #11 on October 13-15, 2017.

Take a look at what Alex Haynes from The Glass Capitol team at Startup Weekend Louisville #9 in October 2016 had to say. Alex’s thoughts originally appeared on The Blackstone Media website here.

It’s an entrepreneurship competition; it’s about the money

First things first. Entrepreneurship is about making money doing what you love, and providing services that others want and find beneficial. If your idea can’t make money, or if you can’t figure out how to make money with it, you’ll have a hard time winning. That’s the problem my team and I ran into. We started The Glass Capitol, and our goal, first and foremost, is to empower others to help build a better government. For us, the money was a secondary concern. We focused on illuminating the inner workings of our government through analysis and statistics. We learned quickly that building a business requires more. It requires a firm revenue model. It requires a proper business plan. That’s what the judges at Startup Weekend are looking for. No idea is a great idea until it’s validated

“The secret to winning startup weekend is validation.” That was the first thing our first mentor told us on Saturday morning. We were told that you can think you have the greatest idea in the world but it doesn’t matter without proof. Surveying your consumer base is the first and most important step in starting a successful startup. People will give you ideas you wouldn’t come up with on your own and can give fresh perspectives on the problem you’re confronting, but outside input can be harsh, and it will also tell you what the most glaring flaws in your ideas are on the spot. Learning to approach and speak with people about potential businesses is the best skill I gained out of startup weekend. It brought me out of my comfort zone, and now I have the confidence to talk to the public about my ideas. The public is the best place to vet new ideas. They’re forthcoming with criticism and the wisdom of the crowd will find improvements you wouldn’t on your own.

You don’t need to code to win

A working MVP is good. Numerous potential customers wanting to spend money on your product is better. Our team at startup weekend was mainly non-programmers, and their hard work was more valuable than the code we wrote during this event because their persistence got us the validation we needed. We were able to canvass public spaces and talk with more than 100 people about The Glass Capitol. It was the most enlightening part of Startup Weekend because we got the feedback and proof we needed to show that people want us to keep building The Glass Capitol. We want to build a better government; and as a team, we proved to ourselves, and each other, that we can get ideas about how to do that out there into a public space. We gained social proof. Without social proof, a business won’t get off the ground.








What is Startup Weekend Louisville, Part 3

It’s time again for Startup Weekend Louisville! Our 11th consecutive event is coming up this October, and we’re so excited to be bringing this 54 hour frenzy of fun, innovation, networking, and entrepreneurship back again!

Check out the recap of Startup Weekend Louisville #10, held at the Kentucky Science Center and LouieLab in April 2017.

Since this will be our eleventh event, we’ve learned a great deal about what Startup Weekend actually is, but many people that haven’t been still don’t know. One of the most common questions we get is “What is Startup Weekend?” We want to answer that with the words of the people that have been there.

Welcome back to “What is Startup Weekend Louisville?”

In this ongoing series, we’ll present what past attendees have to say about their time at Startup Weekend Louisville. We hope it will give you a better picture of how and why we do Startup Weekend in Louisville. We’ll be posting accounts, results, and stories from past attendees as we get closer to Startup Weekend Louisville #11 on October 13-15, 2017.

Take a look at what these two past attendees and current organizers have to say about their experiences:

William Colaw, Cofounder of Critter Facts, 2nd Place Winners at Startup Weekend Louisville #9 in October 2016

“Being a part of Startup Weekend was an impactful experience for our new company, CritterFacts, and for my own personal and professional growth. I believe anyone who is interested in starting their own company, works in business development, or wants to learn to work with a team with tight deadlines should go through the experience of Startup Weekend.”

Phil Brun, Founder and CEO of Lifebit, 1st Place Winners at Startup Weekend Louisville #10 in April 2017

“Over the course of one weekend I went from being alone with an idea to having the winning idea and being surrounded by a team of close friends that had been complete strangers just a few hours earlier. It is an amazing experience, but my favorite part was pitching to the audience, judges, and fellow colleagues. Startup Weekend Louisville is like a supercharged MBA program that absolutely has no equal, and I encourage every citizen of Louisville to participate.”








What is Startup Weekend Louisville, Part 2

It’s time again for Startup Weekend Louisville! Our 11th consecutive event is coming up this October, and we’re so excited to be bringing this 54 hour frenzy of fun, innovation, networking, and entrepreneurship back again!

Check out the recap of Startup Weekend Louisville #10, held at the Kentucky Science Center and LouieLab in April 2017.

Since this will be our eleventh event, we’ve learned a great deal about what Startup Weekend actually is, but many people that haven’t been still don’t know. One of the most common questions we get is “What is Startup Weekend?” We want to answer that with the words of the people that have been there.

Welcome back to “What is Startup Weekend Louisville?”

In this ongoing series, we’ll present what past attendees have to say about their time at Startup Weekend Louisville. We hope it will give you a better picture of how and why we do Startup Weekend in Louisville. We’ll be posting accounts, results, and stories from past attendees as we get closer to Startup Weekend Louisville #11 on October 13-15, 2017.

Take a look at what David Bannister, Jr., a member of the Hello Political team had to say about Startup Weekend Louisville #10 in April 2017. David’s thoughts were originally posted on his blog here.

So this past weekend I attended Startup Weekend Louisville #10!

It was an incredibly educational and exhausting weekend, but I have to say it was entirely worth it! Me and my employee (Jonah) went as part of our team’s goals for us to do fun non-work related professional development. So I just wanted to review a little bit of the weekend and the things I learned.

Friday Night

Friday night was a blur. We arrived around 7pm for dinner and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Mayor Greg Fischer kicked it off and welcomed us. Friday night was when all of the pitches would be made, votes to pick a number of pitches to work on, and forming project groups.

There were somewhere around 30 pitches made. During the pitches, I was inspired to get up and present something I saw as a business problem. I made a pitch explaining my frustration with digital calendar apps and how I wish they were more intuitive, helpful, and easier to use than paper planners (which I do on the regular since my concussion). It didn’t get picked, but I DID get several votes and had some great conversations talking and telling some folks about what I wish I had in a digital calendar app.
Out of all the pitches picked, there was one that interested Jonah and I both. It was a political oriented idea that was about helping both candidates and voters connect over specific issues. We ran up to that team quickly and got accepted into the group. Hooray!

Saturday

Saturday seemed to drag on quite a long while. It was the longest and most exhausting of the days. We arrived promptly around 9AM to start working on the project. We were given a great presentation from one of the organizers about how to do customer research. There were some great principles that I know I will be taking away to help me do some empathy exploration for future interviews. As a group, we did some interviews of different types of customers… we called and talked to politicians, people who ran previously, campaign managers, and of course several voters. These gave us a lot of valuable feedback that allowed us to struggle for several hours about our problem statement and vision for what it was we were creating.

Saturday night came and we started to get a working prototype of what we were hoping to achieve. We had significant technology issues with the network and web spaces we were trying to access. This is when Jonah recommended that we work on this in GitHub. We tried to think about doing everything in wordpress, but the challenges of customizing a template seemed more difficult than starting from scratch in the time frame we had. So between me, Jonah, and our third technical guy Rob were able to pull together a working mock-up that was written using HTML, CSS, Javascript, and JSON (for our sample data).

We left that night feeling a little worried and anxious that we might not have enough time. Probably the lowest point for many of us.

Sunday

Sunday rolled around and we got back to work right at 9AM again. We worked on the look and feel and getting the data to load properly into the page. I left for a few hours to go to church (Palm Sunday) and when I arrived back everything had basically taken shape! You can see what we were able to achieve by going to http://hellopolitical.com.
We spent the afternoon doing some small edits here and there trying to get the point across of what we were trying to develop. By the end of it, the team was feeling pretty confident with the work we had done, and business minded folks of the group were polishing our final pitch for the Sunday night judging.

Sunday night’s judging came around and we were at the mercy of the judges. We felt like we got our point across, met all the criteria to put us ahead of the other groups, but sadly we didn’t win anything. I was disappointed, but it was out of our hands. We still see the incredible opportunity with the project and I’m hopeful that many of us will continue to work on it as we go forward and see if this has the potential that we think it does.

Conclusion

I made some contacts I would have never made. I learned a lot about GitHub (never used it before). Learned some valuable UX techniques on interviewing. I got to flex some programming muscles that I hadn’t used in a long time. I was engaged the entire weekend in something outside of both my comfort zone and expertise. Lastly, I learned how people can get sucked into the startup mindset and how intoxicating it can be. The people present were all passionate, energized, and exceptional in the skills they had to offer.

Overall, it was a great experience and I can see myself participating again AND encouraging others to attend.








What is Startup Weekend Louisville?

 

It’s time again for Startup Weekend Louisville! Our 11th consecutive event is coming up this October, and we’re so excited to be bringing this 54 hour frenzy of fun, innovation, networking, and entrepreneurship back again!

Check out the recap of Startup Weekend Louisville #10, held at the Kentucky Science Center and LouieLab in April 2017.

Recap of Startup Weekend Louisville 10

Since this will be our eleventh event, we’ve learned a great deal about what Startup Weekend actually is, but many people that haven’t been still don’t know. One of the most common questions we get is “What is Startup Weekend?” We want to answer that with the words of the people that have been there.

Welcome to”What is Startup Weekend Louisville?

In this ongoing series, we’ll present what past attendees have to say about their time at Startup Weekend Louisville. We hope it will give you a better picture of how and why we do Startup Weekend in Louisville. We’ll be posting accounts, results, and stories from past attendees as we get closer to Startup Weekend Louisville #11 on October 13-15, 2017.

For the first post in our series, we present the words of Startup Weekend Louisville alums Amy Shah and Cara Loeb.

From Amy Shah – Lessons from Startup Weekend 9 Oct 2016

Tonight was the last night of Startup Weekend Louisville #SWLou. While my team did not win this frenetic and exciting event, I have to believe we came out of Horrigan Hall at Bellarmine University budding entrepreneurs and stronger people. I personally learned more about myself as my teammates and I took a personality inventory called DISCFLEX suggested by Kirsten Bullock. (I was later surprised to know she is related to one of the founders of the Bronsted-Lowry acid base theory!) I was also able to learn how to use a Google Drive and various shared uses of documents in that drive. Martin Lindsey encouraged me to learn WordPress by showing me the ease at which a great web page can be developed. And I signed up to learn more at a conference later this year based on this experience. This was just such a valuable pearl. The whole weekend had me coming out of my shell and meeting new participants. I also learned how to do customer discovery which is something I knew less about but soon became immersed in. I appreciated the quiet strength and patience of Jeanette Brown as she participated in our group. As we worked with founder Beth Givens to create her tutoring company Bocca del Lupo (@boccadellupo), I was inspired by the hope that only creating new things brings. There were just so many skills I gained from the experience that I truly encourage everyone interested in entrepreneurship to take part.

From Cara Loeb – Testimonial about Startup Weekend Louisville 10 April 2017

I can confidently say that Startup Weekend changed my life. We went in with an idea that couldn’t quite catch its stride. The mentors gave us fantastic advice on how to find our customers, encouraged us to go out and do field research, and gave us a better-defined model on how to make money from our app. Not only was Startup Weekend a great opportunity for learning how to get an idea turned into an actual product/service, but it also taught me that my faith in my company can be tangible if given the right direction. It was a weekend of fun, high-energy people that are simply there to improve our world in some way. Not only did we win second place, but we also made a lot of great connections, both locally and outside of Kentucky, to help us create a better educational app. Our company, CritterFacts, now has a growing customer base and an improved business model thanks to the mentors and judges of Startup Weekend.








Avoid the Regret

The participants, organizers, volunteers, coaches, and mentors at the close of Startup Weekend Louisville #10 in April 2017.

 

Not pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity – inaction – may produce a sense of loss when someone else successfully develops the idea or when the entrepreneur looks back wondering what might have been had that entrepreneur only given it a try. (Economics: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, IRMA, 2015, p. 135)

Startups fail every day. The risk of failure is a serious barrier to entry for potential entrepreneurs. In some cases the failure falls squarely on the shoulders of those that had the idea in the first place. CB Insights found that 42% of startups fail because of no market need, also known as a solution looking for a problem. I would imagine the majority of these ideas were never properly validated, and there’s no excuse for skipping that crucial step. As Rudyard Kipling once said “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.”

Sometimes the idea is fantastic but is executed bigger or better by a competitor. As long as they did everything they could, that’s not the fault of those that failed, it’s just something that happened. According to CB Insights, 19% of startups fail because they get out-competed. As Jean-Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.”

But what about failure to start? How many startups fail because their would-be founder never pursued their idea?

There are so many excuses.

Someone else is already doing that…

So what?! Then you should do it better to make sure YOUR idea comes to life in the right way.

I don’t have time…

This should actually say “it’s not a priority…”

I’m the wrong age for that…

The average age of the founders of Workday, a $1.16 billion, publicly traded, cloud-based financial management and human capital management software company was 52. Vivek Wadhwa and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, the Kauffman Foundation, and the Founder Institute have all done extensive research on this, and they found that founders 55 and older are two times more likely to launch a high-growth startup. Turns out you’re not too old after all.

I’m afraid to fail…

We’re all afraid, to differing degrees, of failure. It’s usually not an uplifting experience. Fear of failure is reasonable, but succumbing to it is not. We’re all afraid of something. Richard Branson is “generally a shy person” and is afraid of public speaking. Yes, the same Richard Branson that dressed in drag and served passengers on an Air Asia flight, is SHY and AFRAID of public speaking. Imagine the sheer size of his regret if he hadn’t said to hell with it 50+ years ago.

According to this author on PsyBlog “Regret isn’t just a backward-looking emotion, it also looks forward and it can be a terribly powerful emotion which affects our behavior in the here and now.” They also go on to say that anticipated regret (or how bad you think you’re going to feel if you fail) is usually stronger than the real regret that comes with failure! Because of this, we avoid taking risks, we avoid taking chances, and we play it safe as much and as often as we can.

I’m not telling anyone to go base jumping or squander their life savings on beanie babies, but what I am telling you is that failure happens and it’s OK. In fact, there are so many instances of failure spurring people on to amazing success:

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times by various publishers.
  • Reed Hasting’s first iteration of Netflix was a total failure.
  • Oprah was told she was “too emotional” when she was fired from her first TV job.
  • James Dyson amassed 5,126 failed prototypes before perfecting his vacuum (he’s worth $4.5 billion these days).
  • Colonel Harlan Sanders had to pitch to over 1,000 potential investors before, at the age of 68, he finally hooked one.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a list I’d be happy to count myself a part of.

Eliminate your excuses.

Get a head start on turning your idea into a business.

Get help, get support, and get going. What are you waiting for? 

Register for Startup Weekend Louisville #11 – Right Now!


This was originally posted to the Techstars Community Voices by the author on March 17, 2017. The original post can be found here: http://www.techstars.com/content/community/avoid-the-regret/








Avoid the Regret

Not pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity – inaction – may produce a sense of loss when someone else successfully develops the idea or when the entrepreneur looks back wondering what might have been had that entrepreneur only given it a try. (Economics: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, IRMA, 2015, p. 135)

Startups fail every day. The risk of failure is a serious barrier to entry for potential entrepreneurs. In some cases the failure falls squarely on the shoulders of those that had the idea in the first place. CB Insights found that 42% of startups fail because of no market need, also known as a solution looking for a problem. I would imagine the majority of these ideas were never properly validated, and there’s no excuse for skipping that crucial step. As Rudyard Kipling once said “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.”

Sometimes the idea is fantastic but is executed bigger or better by a competitor. As long as they did everything they could, that’s not the fault of those that failed, it’s just something that happened. According to CB Insights, 19% of startups fail because they get out-competed. As Jean-Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.”

But what about failure to start? How many startups fail because their would-be founder never pursued their idea?

There are so many excuses.

“Someone else is already doing that…”

So what?! Then you should do it better to make sure YOUR idea comes to life in the right way.

“I don’t have time…”

This should actually say “it’s not a priority…”

“I’m the wrong age for that…”

The average age of the founders of Workday, a $1.16 billion, publicly traded, cloud-based financial management and human capital management software company was 52. Vivek Wadhwa and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke University, the Kauffman Foundation, and the Founder Institute have all done extensive research on this, and they found that founders 55 and older are two times more likely to launch a high-growth startup. Turns out you’re not too old after all.

“I’m afraid to fail…”

We’re all afraid, to differing degrees, of failure. It’s usually not an uplifting experience. Fear of failure is reasonable, but succumbing to it is not. We’re all afraid of something. Richard Branson is “generally a shy person” and is afraid of public speaking. Yes, the same Richard Branson that dressed in drag and served passengers on an Air Asia flight, is SHY and AFRAID of public speaking. Imagine the sheer size of his regret if he hadn’t said to hell with it 50+ years ago.

According to this author on PsyBlog “Regret isn’t just a backward-looking emotion, it also looks forward and it can be a terribly powerful emotion which affects our behavior in the here and now.” They also go on to say that anticipated regret (or how bad you think you’re going to feel if you fail) is usually stronger than the real regret that comes with failure! Because of this, we avoid taking risks, we avoid taking chances, and we play it safe as much and as often as we can.

I’m not telling anyone to go base jumping or squander their life savings on beanie babies, but what I am telling you is that failure happens and it’s OK. In fact, there are so many instances of failure spurring people on to amazing success:

  • J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times by various publishers.
  • Reed Hasting’s first iteration of Netflix was a total failure.
  • Oprah was told she was “too emotional” when she was fired from her first TV job.
  • James Dyson amassed 5,126 failed prototypes before perfecting his vacuum (he’s worth $4.5 billion these days).
  • Colonel Harlan Sanders had to pitch to over 1,000 potential investors before, at the age of 68, he finally hooked one.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a list I’d be happy to count myself a part of.

Eliminate your excuses.

Get a head start on turning your idea into a business.

Get help, get support, and get going. What are you waiting for? 

Register for Startup Weekend Louisville #10 – Right Now!








TaxSmack Takes the SWLex 2016 Title!

 

sw-2016-group-photo

All the teams that competed this weekend did an excellent job; congratulations! We had skills and talents ranging from web developers to excellent public speakers and presenters! All our teams stayed fueled with food and caffeine from local sponsors such as Fazoli’s and Cup of Commonwealth. We all had lots of fun this weekend getting to know each other, sharing ideas, and participating in some friendly competition. This year, TaxSmack won first place for Startup Weekend Lex 2016 led by Paul Hamilton and Dave Gilbert!

Our top 3 teams were:

  1. TaxSmack- making it easier for 5M low-income households to claim missed tax savings
  2. Makify- a 3D printing app that can print out doodles and be mailed all over the world
  3. Whyoo- the Uber for automobile oil changes, where technicians come to you

The crowd favorites were Lannister app, a group payment app making group purchases a breeze, as well as Makify! All the teams had such impressive ideas and final pitches that our judges had a tough time deliberating the winner. There were lots of great ideas this weekend and some awesome presentations.

A few highlights from the weekend:

  • 63 attendees
  • 27 ideas pitched
  • 10 teams formed
  • 7 sponsors
  • 5 organizers
  • 4 coaches
  • 3 judges

The work from this weekend and the ideas pitched serve as an inspiration to us all that even one idea can be made a reality with a little hard work and awesome company! We are so excited to see the success of all the startups from this weekend. More information on all the teams from the weekend can be found here. A big thank you to all our sponsors, organizers, coaches, and judges. It was a great weekend!








Startup Weekend Lexington 2016 – Demo List


Startup Weekend Lexington 2016 kickoff

Here are the 10 demo teams and what they are building this weekend at Startup Weekend Lexington 2016. Teams this year are taking part in the Global Startup Weekend, with more than 15k entrepreneurs at 200+ events around the world this week. For a quick recap of the weekend so far, check out pictures on Flickr and updates on Twitter.

  1. Bluegrass Expeditions
  2. Adventure Incentives
  3. Lannister App
  4. SOS Drones
  5. Flourish
  6. WHYOO
  7. Earned Wellness
  8. Makify
  9. DeeMO
  10. TaxSmack