Startup Weekend is off and running at the Innovation Center!

Kicking off Startup Weekend here at the Innovation Center, Daniel Johnsen helped bring together the crowd with a rousing introduction. Johnsen has participated in over 30+ Startup Weekends, ranging from a competitor to a judge, and now as a team coordinator.  Johnsen challenged the idea of “Fail Fast” and proposed his own idea of “Speed to Outcome.” He suggests that individuals work their hardest to head towards an outcome, whether it be a good one or not.

“The importance of this idea”, Johnsen said,”is that you learn from your failures and successes to become a better entrepreneur overall.”

Johnsen then introduced Dr. Christopher Crawford, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Ohio University College of Business.

“If you don’t dare greatly, you don’t achieve greatness”, Crawford said.

Crawford challenged the attendees to avoid being normal and expect greatness from themselves. The main topic he wanted the attendees to take away from his speech was “Expectation drives actions, and actions drive outcomes.” Crawford believes that you must expect outlier outcomes to achieve them. You must do things differently from the normal to receive abnormal rewards.

After our guest speaker concluded, Johnsen moved into the pitch stage of the weekend. Various attendees volunteered and pitched a variety of different ideas, which they will vote on later in the evening. David Stroud lead off the pitches with the idea of a solar shade canopy. Another idea pitched was by Michale Adams, who came up with the idea of a mobile t-shirt shop.

Startup Weekend is off and running. Make sure you stop by the Innovation Center on  Sunday to find out which pitches will make the judges cut. We look forward to seeing you there!

Startup Weekend Brainstorming Session

The Innovation Center Startup Weekend continues, and you can feel the excitement from both the coaches and the team members. Last night was the first day and people had the opportunity to form teams around business ideas that they came up with within minutes! Since then, the teams have been meeting to brainstorm how they can turn their ideas into money.

Craft IPA Group
Group 3 hard at work.

This year, there are three teams that are competing. The first team is working on Homeless prevention, and the second team is developing a ‘ dining hall hacks’ app, while the third team is developing a strategy for delivering IPA beers. Each of these teams have a room to themselves for the duration of the Startup Weekend, and has access to coaches who have the entrepreneurial expertise to guide their ideas.

Group 2 generating future ideas from past and present.
Group 2 generating future ideas from past and present.

The Homeless prevention team spent the day brainstorming on who their customer segments would be and how they would structure the way they provide assistance.

Group 2 working hard to fight Veteran Homelessness.
Group 1 is working hard to fight Veteran Homelessness.

The dining hall hack team was brainstorming their value proposition to make it both appealing and affordable.

Group 2
Group 2 brainstorming ideas to improve culinary services.

The IPA beers team was brainstorming their business focus and some of the challenges that they may have to consider with the alcohol business.Group 3 listens intently to gain insight. Group 3 listens intently as Leslie shares advice and insight. 

This promises to be an exciting weekend!

By: Abena Agyei-Boateng and Michelle House

What are the Judges Looking For?

So you’ve got your big idea, and you’re ready for your final presentation. What should you look out for to make sure you wow the judges?

The judges are looking at three important criteria, that are all weighted equally:

  1. Business Model: How does your team plan to make this business successful? Have you either solved or identified your problems? Have you taken into account your competition, your ability to scale, the acquisition of customers, and created a revenue model?
  2. Customer Validation: Are you building something that people really want? How well do you understand your customer as well as their needs? Did you go out and talk to potential customers? What is your value proposition?
  3. Execution and Design: Have you established a “Minimal Viable Product” over the course of the weekend (hardware, software, etc.)? Are you going to deliver a compelling user experience? Are you able to demonstrate something that is functional?

If you take these factors into account, your business idea should be ready for the competition in no time. Get ready, Startup Weekend 2016 starts in just a few short days! We can’t wait to see you soon.

Do I need a Business Idea for Startup Weekend?!


NO! You do not need a business idea to participate in Startup Weekend! Although the idea-makers are very important, they need people to help them turn their ideas into reality. We are looking for designers, programmers, business-oriented students, and really anyone that would bring charisma and dedication to the table.

If you do have a business idea and are planning to craft a 60-second pitch on the first night of the weekend, here’s some advice for you:

  • 5-10 Seconds: Introduce yourself and explain why you are qualified to speak about your idea
  • 10-20 Seconds: Name the problem that this idea could solve, as well as who is affected by that problem
  • 10-20 Seconds: Explain how you are going to solve that problem, and why your idea is better than existing alternatives
  • 5-10 Seconds: Explain who you are looking for on your team

Make sure to appear approachable when you are pitching. If you would like to guarantee team members, you need to make sure to keep the audience interested and show that you are friendly. Also, make sure to keep your solution simple, both to ensure that potential team members understand your idea, as well as to make things easier to move forward over the course of the weekend. Now get cracking, there’s just a few weeks left until #SWMU2016!

Why Participate in Startup Weekend?

By Emily Sabanegh

September 20th, 2016

Okay, so I have to shell out $25… What’s in it for me?

We can guarantee that this will be the best $25 that you have ever spent. From memories of a lifetime to being part of a meaningful team (not to mention, free meals!), Startup Weekend can easily be the most formative experience of your college career. The experience extends well beyond the weekend itself, too. The Hydrodontist team from SWMU 2015 placed second and went on to participate in the Brandery’s mini-accelerator course. The Oros team from 2014 took home the gold and went on to the Brandery’s mini-accelerator course as well, where they raised 320,000 on Kickstarter (to date, Oros has raised nearly $2M).

Who knows what your team can accomplish this year! Now that you know what Startup Weekend can do for you, sign up quick. Spots are filling up as we write this.

It’s That Time of Year Again! #SWMU2016

By Emily Sabanegh

September 13, 2016

#SWMU2016 is right around the corner and we’ve been busy planning! With 48 hours to plan, ideate, and execute a business model, Startup Weekend Miami University is a great place to practice what you already know, or try something new and delve into the world of startup entrepreneurship. The entire event takes place over the course of 3 days and will count for a 1-hour credit for the ESP 102 class. Registration cost is $25 and spaces are limited. This event is open to students of all years and majors. We are looking for students from a variety of backgrounds and skillsets to come together to create something amazing.

Startup Weekend is a great way to learn more about business, develop important skills in leadership and teamwork, and create memories of a lifetime. Sign up now to better your future and do something at Miami that you may never have the chance to do again. We can’t wait to see what you create!




From Transportation Planner to Hack(er) in One Weekend

Guest post by Thea Walsh, MORPC Director of Transportation Systems & Funding

At the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), we love all things transportation. We know how powerful and effective a safe, reliable, efficient, and accessible transportation system can be in improving the quality of life of Central Ohio residents. And that’s why we are always working with local governments and regional organizations to embrace innovation in transportation. But we don’t interact nearly enough with the city’s entrepreneurs for ideas to make us think outside the planning bubble.

Startup Weekend Columbus: Smart City Edition was both MORPC’s and my first time spending a weekend with curious, passionate, and enthusiastic people who want to do amazing things to make our world better while also creating a successful business. This past weekend gave me a rare opportunity to put myself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, and what a frenetic, fun ride it was!

Smart City? Yes, we’ll help with that.

It’s not often the U.S. Department of Transportation announces a national competition worth $40 million to one winning city. Smart City is a chance for Columbus to become the country’s first fully deployed and integrated innovative city – with self-driving cars, connected vehicles and smart sensors in the transportation network. With Columbus chosen as one of just seven finalist cities, this is something to be proud of! The winner will be announced in June.

Winning the Smart City competition is the ultimate work of collaboration, and Startup Weekend embraced that attitude and even took it to the next level! More than 100 entrepreneurs started the competition by pitching ideas relating to a variety of Smart City verticals including transportation, infrastructure, internet accessibility, sustainability, internet accessibility, urban agriculture, energy, and more. From there, they formed teams around the top ideas as determined by a popular vote.

Startup Pitches to Results

We’ve worked in transportation for a long time, and all of our technological advances have started with taking a risk, research and data, collaboration, and conversation among those in the region.

The same is true of the Startup Weekend teams. Each team that I worked with was so eager to hear about MORPC and the information or data that would make their projects stronger. The enthusiasm for innovation was infectious. They were also passionate about finding the right end products for our Smart City, which was not always easy. On Sunday they shared their concept with the judges. This is not a “relaxing” weekend activity by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a very rewarding experience.

We’re All in This Together

I want to thank all of the Startup Weekend participants and volunteers for spending a weekend dreaming big, being bold, and sharing ideas. Congratulations to the winning team – Fender Defender – but the event did not end Sunday evening. In fact, on Monday morning at our weekly MORPC Leadership Team meeting, we recalled the many other innovative business concepts and started making plans to meet up with these entrepreneurs!

Finally, I leave this thought and impression of my weekend: Columbus has always been about cooperation and collaboration. We are the intersection where well-built relationships and technology come together. To us, it’s just… smart.

8 ways to win Columbus Startup Weekend: Smart City Edition

You’re about to attend Startup Weekend: Smart City Edition. What will it be like? How do themed events work? You’ve read the schedule, but maybe you’re still unsure about what to expect. This guide is for you.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: Anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, UX/design, and market validation. The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for feedback and to win prizes. This event is focused exclusively on Smart City ideas.

Not sure what making a “Smart City” is all about?

Building a ‘Smart City’ is about using innovation, data, and technology to streamline transportation, reduce pollution, minimize energy use, cut costs of city living, and connect citizens. This is an exciting time for Columbus because the city is competing against 6 other cities around the nation for over $60 million in federal grants to fund initiatives in sustainable transportation, smart logistics, and access to jobs—learn more here! A ‘Smart City’ is a city built for the future.

Some categories to get you started:

– Transportation
– Infrastructure
– Internet Accessibility
– Sustainability
– City Planning
– Water
– Energy
– Urban Agriculture
– Waste/Recycling

OK, now that you’re up to speed on what types of ideas are able to be pitched, let me tell you how to best take advantage of the time you have.

1.) Come with an idea

Obviously this event is about building awesome ideas. Do some homework looking at the categories above and thinking of some ideas around them. If you bring an awesome idea and form a talented team, you will get the most out of the event and maybe even walk away with some prizes!

2.) If you don’t have a serious idea, pitch something – anything!

Startup Weekend provides you with the rare opportunity of an incredibly open, friendly environment for you to practice getting in front of a crowd. I don’t care if you’re pitching the next UBER or on-demand cat food delivery, it’s worth pitching. Take advantage of the opportunity!

3.) Be ready to join another team

We will have a lot of ideas pitched. Mathematically, it’s impossible for all ideas, or even the majority of ideas to be built with a team. Keep an open mind and listen to the other pitches – chances are good that you’ll be joining on with another team and idea.

4.) Select your team intentionally

I cannot understate this: your experience will be driven by your team. You will be working hard with these folks for 54 hours, and you want them to be open, fun, smart people. It’s almost impossible to completely know on Friday evening if you’re going to be best friends with someone, but it’s pretty easy to get a feeling if you won’t get along with someone. Even more important than the idea you work on is the team you work with.

5.) Bring your business cards

This event is not about selling your products or services, but you will almost certainly meet a whole host of people you want to follow up with after. You may form lifelong friendships – seriously. Bring your personal cards and expect some authentic, deep networking.

6.) Come early Saturday for yoga

We will have Josie Schweitzer of Thank Yoga providing a free 30-minute session at 9am on Saturday morning. Namaste!

7.) Bring an appetite

We will be feeding you seven full meals during the course of the weekend from a slew of local providers. Outside of that, we’ll have snacks and drinks throughout the weekend as well. You will be well fed, so enjoy it!

8.) Make some social media noise

Columbus is a finalist for the $40 million Smart City grant! An initiative seeking to create a model city that uses data, technology & creativity to shape how people and goods are transported, this opportunity will change the future of our community.

Our event is aligned with the city’s efforts, and we’d love to support them through the event as well. Take advantage of the below hashtags to help Columbus rise to the top!


Are you convinced? Tickets for our next event, Smart City Edition, May 13-15 at Rev1 Ventures are still available! Click here to learn more and punch your ticket.

8 Things You’ll Learn at Columbus Startup Weekend

Guest Blog Post by Claire Coder, founder of Aunt Flow and second place winner of the 2015 Columbus Startup Weekend Health Edition.

Throughout StartUp Weekend, I continually heard the phrase, “Startup Weekend will change your life.” This never truly settled in until I decided to continue to pursue the idea that I had pitched, full time. 54 hours can change your life and here are some tidbits on how to make your experience the most memorable.

1. In the Startup scene, MVP does not mean “Most Valuable Player.” Google it

2. Caffeine inhalants are a real thing and were probably created by another entrepreneur staying up late trying to create an MVP for a different enterprise

3. Careful, Startup Weekend just might change your life. I actually dropped out of college to work on the idea that I pitched at the weekend

4. will be your life saver if you don’t have a graphic designer on your team

5. Suzy Bureau knows how to engage an audience; take notes on how she does it so you are ready to blow the judges away when it comes time to pitch

6. Hashtags are powerful #SWCBUS #socent #startup #fundauntflow

7. Market research is not a survey of 100 friends on survey monkey

8. The Startup community is super supportive… Speaking of support, Aunt Flow needs to raise $25,000 to move forward. YOU can make an impact at

I originally pitched Aunt Flow, as “SafetyPon,” and placed second at the 2015 Columbus Startup Weekend Health Edition. The social enterprise is a buy one, give one subscription based model for tampons. Following the weekend, and in just five months, I have hustled to take the business idea to the crowdfunding stage, be featured in a variety of publications, gain over 14k Twitter followers, and receive numerous awards for the business plan.

The business does not stop there. My true passion is to lessen the taboo of talking about tampons (and be on Ellen.) In this effort, I have created a YouTube channel where I ask women to share their most embarrassing period stories and I talk with men (Flow Bros) about everything menstrual related from cramps to period sex. Learn more about Aunt Flow at

Twitter @GoAuntFlow
Instagram @GoAuntFlow

Tickets for our next event, Smart City Edition, May 13-15 at Rev1 Ventures are still available! Click here to learn more and punch your ticket.

The opa Toy Team Wins First Place at Startup Weekend Athens (Ohio)

After a whole weekend of hard work, the five Startup Weekend Athens pitched their new ventures to a team of judges.

The first-place winner was the team for opa, cognitive toys for modern children, an art/design set of colorful wooden, magnetic shapes.

Team opa: Alex Kneier, Andrew Roffe, Ethan Schultz, Rachel Lau, and Brett Woodard
Team opa: Alex Kneier, Andrew Roffe, Ethan Schultz, Rachel Lau, and Brett Woodard
A photograph of a child playing with opa shown while Ethan was pitching.
A photograph of a child playing with opa shown while Ethan was pitching.


Second place went to Enchanted Home of Lost Books, a used book store offering children’s books to families in the Athens area.

The Enchanted Home of Lost Books team: Lisa Heinz, James Graham, Ariel Taylor, and Amber Duff.
The Enchanted Home of Lost Books team: Lisa Heinz, James Graham, Ariel Taylor, and Amber Duff.


The third-place winner was the team pitching EMG Max.

The EMG Max team: Zach Phillips-Gary, Andrew Greene, Karsten Cao
The EMG Max team: Zach Phillips-Gary, Andrew Greene, Karsten Cao


Among their comments, the judges said they thought that all five of the ideas pitched had the potential to become successful businesses.