5 Reasons to Attend Startup Weekend ABQ

If you haven’t heard already, Startup Weekend Albuquerque is June 2nd – 4th @WESST and I am excited to be part of the central New Mexico’s new organizing team. A lot of great organizations are working together to bring a fun and impactful event that you don’t want to miss.

Having organized and participated in Startup Weekends in the past, here are my 5 reasons why you should attend this 54 hour hackathon.

Try out that idea you are always talking about

I have consulted with hundreds of entrepreneurs, visionaries and developers about their ideas and products. Many of them never schedule nor take the time to work on their startup ideas, instead they continue to just talk about it with their friends. Don’t be that person. Startup Weekend allows you to make the time and gives you a structure to take action and see your idea come to life.

Focused Networking

Most people that are changing careers or trying to get a job know that networking is key to success. But what no one tells you is how hard it can be to make time to research and do it. At Startup Weekend, you will meet some of the leaders of the local ecosystem as well as coaches and mentors to gain wisdom. You will build new friendships and business partnerships with others participants that are taking the same steps to bring new companies and ideas into the world.

Community Engagement

Service not only looks good, it is good! These types of activities impact local industries. Participating in a hackathon is a great way to show you are engaged with your local community and care about something more than just getting a job. Employers and recruiters now look for “soul” on job applications and cover letters nowadays. So ask yourself, what are you doing to connect and contribute back to society?

Food, Fun and Fame

Probably not the main reason why you should come to Startup Weekend but having fun and getting fed all weekend already justifies the cost of ticket registration. Something else you might gain is a chance at fame. Winners at times have opportunities to move on to global competitions and get into the press.

Start a New Future

It may sound unreal but, for some, participating in a Startup Weekend can lead them on a new career path or even create a new startup company with other participants. Don’t believe me? Zapier.com and Rover.com, both leaders in their industries, are just a couple of the companies that came out of a Startup Weekend. And, Albuquerque’s very own Teeniors was launched at a Startup Weekend!

If you are in ABQ or surrounding area, I encourage you to sign up for Startup Weekend ABQ 2017 before the early tickets are gone.

Why. I. do. Start Up Weekend.

I’m all in.

I organize Start Up Weekends. I attend community leader retreats. I’m training to become an international Start Up Weekend facilitator.

But I’m also a private sector employee and intrapreneur.

I want to help build a thriving innovative entrepreneurial community. I want to live, work, play and innovate. And that’s why I go to Start Up Weekend

I’m not the millennial in his parent’s basement playing and coding video games. I’m not the software engineer trying to find a team to build the next Uber for Airbnb for Facebook for Gen Z’ers.

And neither are the people that attend Start Up Weekend ABQ. We’re community builders, parents, boomers, millennials and ideation specialists. We’re small business, veterans, students and entrepreneurs.

The “who are these people” misconception may be the hurdle we need to jump in order to make Albuquerque the community we all want. Because “these people” are actually all of us.

I took the Start Up Weekend concept to my company. We hosted a weekend event to work on an innovative approach to market ourselves. Our MVP (minimum viable product) became our marketing plan. We had some tough “war room” conversations. We stayed up late and came in early. We heard from our leaders and learned from our co-workers. We talked about new products over pizza and planned out office décor over coffee. We created an environment to harvest ideas. We created space and place to cultivate innovation. And most importantly, we took the time to work on ourselves and the people we surround ourselves with in order to make this place just a little bit better.

So, whether you’re a tinkerer or an analyst; whether you’re a developer or a marketer, Start Up Weekend is about building a community and an environment to encourage entrepreneurial activity. It takes a community to build a community and we would love to have more on board.

You can still sign-up for Start Up Weekend: bit.ly/swabq_event

Area entrepreneurs invited to pitch ideas at third Startup Weekend at NMSU

Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University will host its third Startup Weekend Las Cruces event for current and future entrepreneurs hoping to receive feedback on their startup business idea.
Headshot of Estela Hartley.
Innovation strategist Estela Hartley will be the featured speaker at this year’s Startup Weekend Las Cruces event. (Courtesy photo)

This year’s event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 and culminate with judging and awards on Nov. 15 at Arrowhead Park, 4605 Research Park Circle in Las Cruces. Tickets are $75, and tickets for high school and college students are $25. Cost includes meals, refreshments and prizes. Startup Weekend Las Cruces is the only startup event taking place in Southern New Mexico. Participants from around the region are welcome to attend.

The Startup Weekend event features teams forming around top ideas and spending 54 hours creating business models, code, design and market validation. Each team will then present their project before a panel of judges, including Bobby Lutz, NMSU alumnus, CFO and owner of G.L. Seaman and Company, and member of the NMSU Foundation Board and the Arrowhead Advisory Council; John Hummer, co-founder, executive board member and President of The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Albuquerque business owner Amy Bigbee.

The event’s featured speaker on Saturday is Estela Hartley, an innovation strategist who works with startups, established businesses and nonprofit organizations to solve complex problems and design meaningful businesses, products, and services using new frameworks, tools and practices. She will speak about customer interviews.

Hartley specializes in collecting consumer insights and designing business models and customer experiences that create new value and significantly improve outcomes for all stakeholders.
She is a native New Mexican and earned a bachelor of community health from NMSU before studying healthcare interior design at The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago. She earned an MBA in design strategy from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Public Health Sciences at NMSU.

The New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) is donating a $1,000 prize to the ultimate statewide winner, who will then be eligible to compete at the Global Startup Battle.

Participants may include software developers, designers and people with a background in business, marketing and public relations.

Zetdi Runyan Sloan, director of the Arrowhead Technology Incubator and lead organizer for Startup Weekend Las Cruces, said the winner of the statewide competition will not only receive regional press coverage, but national recognition as well.

“This year’s organizing team, made up of volunteers from the public and private sector, are thrilled to see so much support extended by the Las Cruces business community,” Sloan said. “Restaurantpreneurs, realtors, technologists, nonprofits and others have all recognized the benefit of encouraging entrepreneurism through events like Startup Weekend, and are actively contributing to its success as sponsors, volunteers and supporters. NMEDD’s support of this year’s Startup Weekend is very unique and, to our knowledge, is the first of its kind. We’re excited to have an opportunity like this extended to our local entrepreneurs.”

To register for Startup Weekend Las Cruces, or for more information, visithttp://lascruces.startupweekend.org. The NMSU College of Engineering has made eight scholarships available for students to attend this year’s event. For information about discounts, scholarships and sponsorships, contact Sloan at 575-646-7833 or zrunyan@nmsu.edu.

Similar events will be hosted in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of community leaders and entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. The nonprofit organization is headquartered in Seattle, but Startup Weekend organizers can be found in cities around the world.

Las Cruces joining statewide Startup Weekend

LAS CRUCES — It’s billed as 54 hours of intense training for entrepreneurs and, if you are up for the marathon, there is a chance it could launch a career.

Las Cruces is among three cities taking part in New Mexico’s Statewide Startup Weekend, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday night. This year, the third year Las Cruces has participated along wtih Albuquerque and Santa Fe, marks a change from previous years as experts from around the state and country use technology to share information among all three cities simultaneously. The event will connect all three cities, with sessions to be held at the Santa Fe Business Incubator in Santa Fe; Fat Pipe, Eipcenter & ABQid in Albuquerque; and Arrowhead Center on New Mexico State University’s campus in Las Cruces.

“Unique this year is New Mexico will be the first and only integrated statewide startup weekend,” said Zetdi Sloan, director of the technology incubator at the NMSU Arrowhead Center.

Sloan said collaboration between speakers at the three statewide events and the use of technology will bring an opportunity for all participants to benefit from the shared knowledge of the speakers presenting this weekend.

“The keynote speaker will be in northern New Mexico and webcast to all participants across the state,” Sloan said. “Santa Fe, Albuquerque, we’ll have some other guest speakers over the course of the weekend.”

Participants will begin Friday evening with brainstorming sessions to pitch ideas for development. Through a voting process, top candidates will be selected and teams formed to develop a business plan and pitch it.

The top project for each city will be selected Sunday night and will immediately go before a panel of judges. The winner will receive $2,000 in development assistance from the state’s Economic Development Department.

Startup Weekend ABQ Returns!

We’re excited to bring back Startup Weekend as one of the last big events for startups of all kinds in 2015. Startup Weekends in  New Mexico have a very successful record of bringing great people together to validate and launch new ventures and we want anyone with skills and ideas about new business to participate!

More info coming soon!


Ribs, Gamers, and Makers: 36 hours at Startup Weekend Albuquerque


After a day-and-a-half of work, teams at Startup Weekend Albuquerque are getting down to the final few hours in a 54-hour long marathon.

In just one weekend each team is responsible for defining a problem, coming up with a solution, and then breaking it down into a product / company that can be pitched to a team of judges and executed on in the coming weeks and months.

Andre Moore, who is a first time participant, is pitching an idea he’s had in the back of his head for a while. He loves cooking BBQ, and after getting feedback from family and friends who say his ribs are the best in town, he heard about Startup Weekend and decided to try it.

Andre's Ribs tweet

His team started with a broad set of ideas, and is now narrowing down the framework to something they can execute on and that reflects his love for food and cooking for people:

“After a day of looking at the timing we’ve scaled it down to a small food truck build to start, and changed the name from The Ribcage to Andre’s Ribs…we’ve been working on getting things to fit in a way that will work for us and also be unique.”

Nick Williams, who has participated in previous Startup Weekends and is putting together an idea called Catalyst Week, also knows how important it is to narrow down what you’re working on as the weekend comes to a close…

“It’s a tradeoff, you have to stay focused on the presentation and at the same time  incorporate feedback from mentors / coaches…the challenge is doing both, being flexible and focused.”

With intensive customer development completed to see if each idea has traction, other teams are getting the details down and practicing sharing their story / product idea.

MakerBrat, a startup idea initiated by the local Design Thinking Meetup founder Andres Lazo, is focusing on helping kids age 5-12 learn problem solving and design thinking skills via maker activities. His team has identified a gap in elementary and middle school education, and after talking to 60+ people about the idea this weekend he believes workshops / programming for younger children are the precursor to events like Teen Startup Weekend.

Two other teams are hard at work as well, preparing for pitches and figuring out how to tell their story as they build a business: Local Quest, an online role playing game that seeks to connect gamers who are near each other, and Orderfy, a startup that’s focusing on closing the loop between ordering from a food truck and being notified when food is ready.

Alexandra Ximenez, veteran of more than a dozen Startup Weekends and this event’s facilitator / guide, says that it’s about more than just the weekend:

“One of the best things about Startup Weekend is that the framework empowers teams to build an idea / product that will last. Especially for the first time attendees, this event is only the first step in their entrepreneurial journey.”

Each startup will be presenting their idea / product this afternoon beginning at 5pm in the downstairs level auditorium of the CNMStemulus Center in Downtown Albuquerque (corner of 3rd & Copper)

Address: 20 1st Plaza Center NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Startup Weekend Abq: Saturday's Codes, Links, and Tips

Howdy SWAbq’ers,
Here’s what you need to know today…
F6S Survey
Each team needs to sign up with the F6S survey. (It’s how UPGlobal, our parent sponsor, tracks events). This needs to be done TODAY so the team can participate in the final pitches – and any follow-on Global Startup Battle activities: http://www.f6s.com/cover?survey=1
Can we raise the visibility of Albuquerque’s startup community? Tweet your participation and support with #SWABQ – and see the results here. Top ten in the west? we can make it!
Winners – and many participants – in Startup Weekend can compete for some pretty amazing prizes. Know what they are so you can compete! http://www.globalstartupbattle.co/tracks
Amazon Web Services: http://aws.amazon.com/activate/event/2014sw93sdn32 – Each attendee can visit this URL to redeem $100 in AWS credit!
Make sure you do this before the end of the weekend, as the codes will expire. Free money!

.co domain codes and instructions are at: http://www.go.co/startupweekend/

Register for free .CO domain registration by visiting www.go.co/startupweekend using and using the following code: SW14115685. This code is only applicable once per participant, and will only be active until the first Thursday following your event.


Google Cloud Platform: is offering developers $300 in credit to build your web or mobile apps. Visit cloud.google.com/free-trial/ to get started.

Happy startup’ing!


Startup Weekend Abq Kicks Off, Teams & Ideas Set

gary o

“We can build everything and put the pieces in place for an entrepreneurial community, but it’s up to you, the entrepreneurs, to make it go.”

At the end of a long Global Entrepreneurship Week, Albuquerque Economic Development Director Gary Oppedahl spoke a bit softer than his usual self, but with no less conviction.

As a constant and vocal champion for entrepreneurs, Oppedahl is a presence at nearly every startup event in the metro area, along with Eric Renz-Whitmore, one of main organizers of Startup Weekend Albuquerque.

The 54-hour marathon of brainstorming, research, customer development, and pitching was kicked off last night with short and sweet speeches from both Oppedahl and Renz-Whitmore, along with a few words from locally grown entrepreneurs Travis Kellerman and Amanda Solosky.

Kellerman talked about working across teams and disciplines, and a recent dive into managing the product / project process and coding. Solosky, one of the co-founders of Rival Theory — an artificial intelligence startup built entirely by University of New Mexico graduates —mentioned the difficulty of multiple pivots and the constant iterative process.

sweekend 2“You never stop learning,” she said, and grinned wryly while describing how even after successfully launching a product, making money, and going through the Techstars program, her team still faces constant new challenges. “The thing I noticed,” she said, “is that even founders of multi-million dollar companies sometimes don’t know 100% what they are doing.”

The Kaufman Foundation’s Jon Robinson spoke for a couple of minutes as well, calling Albuquerque one of the most promising places he’s seen for entrepreneurship. “Albuquerque is a great place to start a company,” he said, and noted that the low cost of living and access to creative thinking are both competitive advantages that the city has in large amounts.

sweekend 5


With introductions out of the way, Startup Weekend facilitator Alexandra Ximenez loosened up the crowd of 50 or so people with a 5 minute exercise called Half Baked, where attendees had to pair random words into a product name and explain how the product worked and what problem it solved.


After hearing about companies / products like “Opposable Sausages,” “Cold Coffee,” and “Automagical Symphony,” the room quickly relaxed, and Ximenez then ran through what to expect for the weekend…including pitching ideas, forming a team, market research, and customer development.

Once groups were formed, ideas voted on, and everyone was ready to go, teams hunkered down to plan for the next couple of days.

Among the ideas making it to the weekend:

* An educational platform based on lean startup and human centered design principles

* A BBQ food truck / food stand with Albuquerque’s best ribs

* Bootcamp / program for companies & products that successfully launch from Startup Weekend and still want / need, quick intensive iteration sprints

* An online role playing game that connects people in a 25 mile square radius

* A customer focused app that allows food trucks and stands to alert people when their food is ready, and streamline the ordering process

About Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is a 3-day event where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs meet up to brainstorm, plan a product/service or business idea, and build out a first model / prototype.

The event takes place at the CNM STEMulus center in Downtown Albuquerque, November 21–23, 2014

Follow Startup Weekend Albuquerque on Twitter via the #swabq hashtag, or keep tabs on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

3 Lessons for Building Your Startup Weekend Team

Guest post by Matthew Ayoub

My first Startup Weekend completely changed my life.

It was the first time I was around a large group of like-minded, entrepreneurial people, who all lived in New Mexico. Indeed, this was the first time many of us realized that such a community even existed. Now, here we are more than a year and at least half a dozen Startup Weekends later and I can’t imagine a New Mexico without this thriving and ambitious entrepreneurial community.

This weekend marks another Startup Weekend, and I think this event is more important than ever for our city, our state, and for all entrepreneurs who call New Mexico home. Startup Weekend is only 54 hours long; a headfirst dive into the whirlwind startup experience. This event offers a chance for anyone who has ever had an idea to take action and bring that idea to life. But it’s also so much more than that. In 54 hours you will have failures and successes, you’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll come to understand the value of your team, you’ll make lifelong friends, and you’ll find a purpose. Startup Weekend will challenge you in new ways and you will grow as an entrepreneur.

During my first Startup Weekend, I set out to learn about creating a team around an idea. I had been working on a startup as the sole founder for several months and I knew that when the time came for that company to grow, building the right team would be essential to its success. I went to Startup Weekend with a new idea, something I hadn’t worked on in the past, and I was able to form a team around that idea. Over that weekend I learned some of the most important lessons that I still use to this day. The top three are, the importance of your pitch, team diversity, and aligned focus. Here they are in detail:

Lesson 1: The Pitch

When you arrive at Startup Weekend on Friday evening, one of the first things you do is pitch your idea. After all the ideas have been presented, people will begin to form teams around what interests and excites them the most. I knew that my pitch was important to attracting people to my team. What I didn’t realize, was how carefully you must craft your pitch, to attract different types of skills. The pitch that attracts marketing and business people is going to be a bit different than the pitch that attracts the engineers and the programmers. Think hard about who you need on your team in order to succeed, then craft your pitch to appeal to those people.

Lesson 2: Team Diversity

A successful startup needs a wide range of skills. You need industry experts, in the market you are trying to break into, you need the technical talent, to help you build your product, you need the marketing and sales skills to bring your product to the world, and you need business skills to effectively run the company. You can usually find all these people at a Startup Weekend event. Tailor your pitch to attract who you need most urgently but don’t forget to seek out the other skills you may need to get your business off the ground. You have an opportunity to talk with people, while they decide what team they would like to join. Take an active approach to this and try and recruit people to your cause. If you just wait for everyone to come to you, you could miss out on a valuable addition to your team.

Lesson 3: Focus

One of the challenges to having a talented team with diverse people and skills, is that everyone will have ideas. This can be really great while you create the concept for your product but can quickly cause a breakdown in productivity. It’s important to brainstorm and finalize your minimum viable product as soon as possible. Once you have decided what features you will focus on in the first version, focus your team away from brainstorming mode and into execution mode. Your goal now is to build and validate in preparation for your pitch. One of the challenges during my first Startup Weekend was balancing the flow of new ideas with actually developing the ideas we already had. The most focused teams will produce the most.

Making the decision to launch your own company always comes with a certain amount of risk and events like Startup Weekend provide the perfect environment to make mistakes and take chances without much downside. The lessons I learned during my first Startup Weekend have been tremendously valuable as I’ve continued to build my company. Now I attend Startup Weekend events as a coach, which allows me to mentor new entrepreneurs and I’m always amazed at how much the teams can improve and grow in just 54 hours. If you’ve ever had an idea and want to bring it to life, come to Startup Weekend, create something amazing.

Matthew Ayoub is an entrepreneur and founder of technology company Media Trove, and Kanoodl – a startup that enables customers at restaurants, stores, and other businesses to influence the music around them.

About Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is a 3-day event where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs meet up to brainstorm, plan a product/service or business idea, and build out a first model / prototype.

The event takes place at the CNM STEMulus center in Downtown Albuquerque, November 21-23, 2014

Start Something at Startup Weekend Abq Nov. 21-23

Guest post by Matthew Ayoub

matthew ayoub

Being a first-time entrepreneur can be an intimidating thing, so having the opportunity to test your idea in a low risk, supportive environment over a weekend is fantastic.

This is exactly what Startup Weekend is. It’s like a weekend test-drive of entrepreneurship and startups.

It’s a place full of supportive, entrepreneurial people just like you, who are eager to create something. Over the course of 54 hours you will pitch ideas, form teams, validate your business, and share your new company with your peers and a panel of amazing judges.

In one weekend you have the chance to share your idea with a group of like-minded people, this is your chance to inspire them, to gather people to your cause. Forming a team around your idea is the first step to a successful startup. Your team will bring valuable skills, supportive encouragement, experiences, and diverse perspectives to your fledgling business.

Creating a startup not only requires a strong team but also a network of experienced mentors. Startup Weekend provides access to a broad range of mentors with diverse backgrounds and importantly, past startup experience. These mentors can coach you through many of the challenges you will face when bringing your vision to life. Creating relationships with these mentors will allow you to build a network that will be instrumental to your success. Every entrepreneur makes mistakes and the mentors who are available to you have all made their fair share. Learn from them and ask questions to accelerate your understanding and to help you launch your business more quickly and efficiently.

Customer Validation

Startup Weekend lasts for only 54 hours so there is a strong focus on two main aspects of your business. The first is customer validation. When you first form your team, you start with nothing more than an idea. If you want to have a successful company, it’s important to know if there are customers who will pay for the product or service you will be offering. This means you have to reach out to potential customers. Send them surveys, go interview them, talk with as many of them as possible. This information will not only help you understand if there is a legitimate market for you to serve but it will also help you refine your product to better meet the needs of your customers.

Creating a Pitch

The second focus during Startup Weekend is the pitch. Pitching your company is one of the most important things you will learn to do. There will be many times in the life of your business when you need to communicate what you do clearly and passionately. You might need to pitch to investors, employees, customers, or partners. As Startup Weekend comes to a close, you will be pitching to a panel of judges and to an audience of entrepreneurs, friends, and your fellow Startup Weekend teams. Practice your pitch, ask your mentors and teammates for feedback, and iterate. Your business is important, you’re solving a problem and you need to use your pitch to inspire others to join you, whether that means as investors, employees, or customers, help us understand your passion.

When the weekend is over, maybe you’ll have a new business, something that you might eventually come to focus on full time. Or maybe you’ll decide that your own startup isn’t the right move. One thing is certain though…you will come away from Startup Weekend with an incredibly valuable set of skills, a new network of amazing entrepreneurial friends, and a fresh view of the world. Startup Weekend has helped create companies, careers, and communities all over the planet. You too can be a part of it.

What will you start at Startup Weekend?

Matthew Ayoub is an entrepreneur and founder of technology company Media Trove, and Kanoodl – a startup that enables customers at restaurants, stores, and other businesses to influence the music around them.

About Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is a 3-day event where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs meet up to brainstorm, plan a product/service or business idea, and build out a first model / prototype.

The event takes place at the CNM STEMulus center in Downtown Albuquerque, November 21-23, 2014

Click here to visit the event page and register today