Hackathon, Startup Weekend – Why is it for me?

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about hackathons and startup weekends, but a lot of people look at us like deer in headlights. Hack-a-what? Do what in a weekend? So, I thought it would be useful to provide some insight into what it is and why you might want to attend one. After all, even deer need direction.

First, let me say that instead of reinventing the wheel, we’ve decided to partner with Techstars to use their startup weekend model, but essentially, a hackathon and startup weekend are the same thing – cool events that challenge you to learn new things in an entrepreneurial fashion while making deep connections with new people as well as people you may know already.

Techstars Startup Weekends, like hackathons, are…

… 54-­hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non­technical entrepreneurs. The weekend events are centered on action, innovation, and education. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through testing, business model development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos to a panel of potential investors and local entrepreneurs. Participants are challenged with building functional startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-­minded individuals outside of their daily networks.

Who you’ll meet at Techstars Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekends attendees’ backgrounds are roughly

  • 50% technical (developers, coders, designers)
  • 50% business (marketing, finance, law).
Why do people come to Startup Weekend?
  • 29% of Startup Weekend participants attend an event to network, which can lead to a job
  • 20% attend to develop/build a product
  • 13% attend to learn how to create a new venture.

After the event is over, roughly 80% of attendees plan on continuing to work on their startup after the weekend.

What you’ll get out of the event:
  1. Education: Startup Weekends are all about learning by doing, whether you’re learning anew skill or a new way of thinking. Don’t just listen to theory, build your own strategy and test it as you go.
  2. Co­Founder Dating: The people who come to Startup Weekend are serious about learning how to build and launch startups. Create relationships that last long past the weekend.
  3. Have fun: During the weekend working alongside awesome people who share your ideas. Techstars Startup Weekend is meant to be fun and entertaining so enjoy it.
  4. Solve local problems with your ideas. Do you think that one of your idea can change your town or have a positive impact in your group of people? Bring your idea notebook with you and start making a positive change in your local community.
  5. Build Your Network: Techstars Startup Weekend works hard to recruit high quality,driven entrepreneurs­ like you!
  6. Learn New Skills: With a whole weekend dedicated to letting your creative juices flow,Techstars Startup Weekends are perfect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language, or give marketing a try. With nothing to lose there’s no reason not to step outside your comfort zone.
  7. Learn How to Launch a Business (and Actually Do It!): Techstars Startup Weekend is the epitome of Lean Startup Methodology.
  8. Mentorship: Local tech and startup leaders participate in Techstars Startup Weekends and give feedback to participants. Interact with the movers and shakers in your community.
  9. Get Access to Valuable Startup Resources: By participating in Techstars Startup Weekend you are given instant access to great products and tools. No one leaves Techstars Startup Weekend empty handed! Click here to learn more about some of the offers our Global Sponsors provide during the event.
  10. Free Food! Techstars Startup Weekends are affordable (typically $75-$99, only $25­-$50 for students). Your ticket includes seven meals (count ’em, 7!), snacks, and all the coffee you can drink.

As you can see, there are a lot of great reasons for attending Startup Weekend – South Shore. We partnered with Techstars Startup Weekend because they’ve hosted events in countries all over the world, they are a great organization to work with and they bring connections to Google, investors and other partnership opportunities.

Entrepreneurs are not lazy. They are the ones who get things done and go the extra mile (uphill both ways) to seek out cool opportunities. Are you an entrepreneur? Have you wanted to be one? This is your chance to see if you’ve got what it takes or to prove that you’ve got the right stuff.

Join us on November 9-11, 2018 to participate in an amazing journey of experiential learning, superconnecting and all-around fun. You will discover something magical about yourself, the world and the others you work with. It’s better than Disney!

Register here:


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Boston SWEDU Pitchfire Results! 30 Ideas, 9 Finalists to Form

Boston Startup Weekend Education kicked off Friday night with 30 ideas for education innovation from attendees.  After a round of 1 minutes pitches, organizers tabulated participant peer votes, leaving 9 ideas to advance to seek to form teams.  These pitchers were then left to flesh out their ideas and attempt to recruit sufficient teams to actually build these out over the weekend!

Here were our top ideas advancing to team formation:

  • Achieve Financial Freedom Together: pitched by Nancy out of her own experience seeking to learn to save and invest having come to the US from China but addressing universal issues of financial literacy by building a freemium financial education platform for Millennials, who despite strong average incomes have below average savings levels.
  • EDscursion: pitched out of an educator’s real life experience managing field trips for a rural classroom, this online platform would simplify and plan student learning excursions.
  • FeedLoop: pitched by Jeff, an educator turned developer seeking to build a student peer feedback platform for the classroom that adapts models employed by developers to write code.
  • “Google Analytics for EDU”: Pitched by Parviz who out of his decade of experience serving on the board of a local school, sees the need to build a platform that truly tracks learning effectiveness (sentiment analysis, sensor networks, machine learning)
  • Mindful Testing VR: pitched by John,a first year MBA at MIT, with 5 years of development experience at Microsoft, to address test taking anxiety. With 16-20% of students experiencing debilitating test taking anxiety levels, this platform will replace paper based testing with a VR environment for off-site test taking.
  • Quick Deck: pitched by Al, a medical adaptive test prep entrepreneur to create a simple, automated flashcard generator utilizing a Chrome extension for users to highlight given website content which will automatically link to a content library and auto-populate a digital flashcard template.
  • Reskill Me: pitched by Neel, a venture capitalist originally from London, as a skills training platform targeted those threatened to be left behind by Globalization in a post-Brexit world.
  • Super Moms: pitched by Alex (another Brit!) online career platform for reintegrating recent maternity / paternity leave parents into the workforce.
  • Teacher Licensure Tracker:  pitched by Cara, a teacher turned UX designer, this is an administration platform for storing and tracking teacher certifications and licenses.

StartupWeekend Education Returns to Boston (November 10-12)

On November 10th, Startup Weekend Education returns to Boston for the first time since 2014 with a great group of judges, mentors and organizers from the education and start-up worlds set to support you and your ideas to help drive innovation in education!

Backed by Techstars, the worldwide entrepreneur network, and hosted at Pearson Education’s Copley Square offices, StartupWeekend Education (“SWEDU”) creates a space and resources to bring new ideas, technology and entrepreneurs to make a difference across the Boston (and global!) education community. 

No better example exists LeanGap, one of the winning teams from the past 2014 Boston SWEDU. Pitched by by a high-school student as an idea for a start-up accelerator for other high schoolers, LeanGap is still going strong today, having just finished their third summer (read more here on BetaBoston)!  

On November 10-12, you have the chance to be our next success story, working with over 100 educators, students, developers, designers, and other professionals on your team.  Our judging panel includes Mark Racine (CTO of Boston Public Schools), Christine Ortiz (former dean of MIT), Jean Hammond (founder of the LearnLaunch accelerator), Aaron Feuer (CEO of the Zuckerberg funded Panorama Education) and Curtiss Barnes (SVP of Pearson) and our coaches are drawn from some of the leading entrepreneurs, practitioners and software developers in the education industry.

You will also benefit from having a local organizing team who have led nearly a dozen SWEDUs between them, including Vicky Guo of Pearson, a co-organizer of the 2014 Boston SWEDU, Hannah Nyren of the EdTech Times (@edtechtimes), who was on one of the winning teams at 2014 Boston SWEDU, and Christopher Nyren (@cnyren) founder of Educated Ventures.

The winning team will secure additional support, including free invitations to some of the leading education startup conferences and festivals across the country including LearnLaunch, NY EdTech Week, and more to be announced!

Lets see what you can do in 54 hours with all their support, three meals a day, and a fun, collaborative working environment! Learn more and register under the early bird pricing (ending this Thursday!) at bit.ly/bosswedu!

AquaXI Takes First Place

Another amazing Startup Weekend has wrapped up.  We successfully completed the world’s first Startup Weekend focused on the Blue Economy, we called it Startup Weekend Blue.

Team AquaXI

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was the perfect location and the most gracious host of the event.

Throughout the course of the weekend we had 30 – 50 people at the event from participants, coaches, sponsors, investors and the general public.   We also had some of the wildest weather I can remember on Cape Cod, from dense fog and 50 degrees on Friday night to driving rain and 40s on Saturday to 20s on Sunday and a couple inches of snow…. insane.

SW Blue

Read all about it here on the Cape Cod Times.

Post Event Report

We had over 50 people on Wednesday night, after a brief overview of the vision for the region we got right down to brainstorming.  We had put up the four pillars of the Blue Economy, Climate Change, Water/Wastewater, Fisheries and Energy however the group really focused in on fisheries.

In case you can’t read the text in the photo here’s a list of the ideas and topics discussed:IMG_4678 (1)

  • Buy fresh buy local
  • Community Supported Fishing (CSF) with a special focus on membership interacting with retail
  • Municipal shellfish support
  • Import/Export balancing: the idea that the Vineyard should have a balance of what gets exported and imported specifically with regard to fish/shellfish.
  • Marketing: better marketing of the Island and its assets
  • Little Guards: an ecologically focused summer program for kids
  • Nitrogen Mitigation: cost effective treatment options
  • Easement vs. conservation for shellfishing areas with a view
  • Cultural sustainability: preserving the Island’s culture with a focus on sustainability
  • Shellfish / Nitrogen Mitigation
  • Working Harbors: especially places like Vineyard Haven
  • Field Station: used for research, eco tourism, etc.
  • Shellfish compost

There was a great article published on the event: https://vineyardgazette.com/news/2016/03/12/blue-economy-initiative-urges-island-entrepreneurs-look-ocean


Cape’s blue economy lands some green


Blue Economy Ideation Comes to the Vineyard

We’re getting excited for the upcoming session, check out the recent press on the event.

Blue Economy Gets a Boost

In case you missed it, here’s an important milestone for the regional economy.


Startup Weekend Blue to get a rolling start in 2016

The Cape Cod Times wrote a follow-on piece to outline the work we’re doing to keep the momentum going for Startup Weekend Blue.


Building a blue economy

Interesting article in EcoBusiness about building blue economies in Asia, we can do that right here!