TiE Oregon, our local chapter of the global not-for-profit organization TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs – although here we like to call it The Inclusive Entrepreneurs), is once again proud and delighted to sponsor Portland Startup Weekend!
TiE’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship all around the world; through networking, education, mentoring, incubation and funding. We organize many events here, such as our successful Pitch Club and our emerging tech panels; we connect companies with mentors and advisors; we generously share our connections; we have a group of Angel investors; and we even provide entrepreneurial education to high school kids with our new TYE (TiE Young Entrepreneurs) program.
One of the most exciting ways to get propelled into entrepreneurship and get the basics of what it means to have a startup, is participating in Startup Weekend. Within a single weekend, you’ll be able to test whether that business idea that you had, might be viable. You’ll experience how you, and a team of people that you probably had never even met before, can together produce more energy and accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible. You’ll live through a microcosm of the emotional highs and lows of entrepreneurship. You will get to know the most amazing people – while probably learning a lot about yourself. And, it’s maybe the most fun you can have with your clothes on.
TiE Oregon and Portland Startup Weekend go back a while. I myself got to my current position, Executive Director of TiE Oregon, through my involvement as an organizer for Startup Weekend. And many of the people who first get their feet wet at entrepreneurship at Startup Weekend, find their way to our TiE programs, mentors and incubator – and some even find investments through TiE Angels. You’re on your way to becoming part of an amazing community.
TiE Oregon will be having the annual TiE PitchFest competition on Dec 10th 2014, a few weeks after Portland Startup Weekend. Once you’ve come out of Startup Weekend, we want you to consider applying to compete in the Concept Stage category of PitchFest. (Applications here: https://oregon.tie.org/event/40/tie-pitchfest-2014)
This will let you pitch your fledgling company to a panel of investors, in front of a roomful of folks from the investment and entrepreneurial community, and really get serious with your new business! The only requirement for participation in PitchFest, is that at the time of the competition, least one person on your team be a member of TiE Oregon. Guess what? We’re giving away year-long memberships to the winners of Startup Weekend – so that will be taken care of. Last year, a winner of Portland Startup Weekend, Bubblr, also won the Concept Stage category at TiE PitchFest! Plus, as a TiE member you get reduced fee or free access to all the TiE programs, events and exclusive benefits such as mentoring etc. See more at https://oregon.tie.org. Even if you don’t win a free membership, you will find that attending TiE events and becoming a member will open up all kinds of resources for you.
So, we hope you have the time of your life at Portland Startup Weekend. And we look forward to helping you on your entrepreneurial journey that may follow!
A guest blog from Portland Startup Weekend organizer and past participant Shelby Miller.
When I first applied for Startup Weekend, I had no clue what to expect. I was simply told to attend because I would learn a lot. I was a little nervous, but reflecting upon my first Startup Weekend experience, it was easily one of the best activities I’ve ever attended. Startup Weekend is a fun, challenging, and engaging activity that allows anyone to apply their skills to an innovative entrepreneurial project. To make sure you get the most out of Startup Weekend, I’m going to tell you a bit about the Startup Weekend format and share a few insights I have that will help you make the most out of your Startup Weekend experience.
Startup Weekend starts with a networking opportunity. For an hour or two, attendees walk around talking with one another, exchanging business cards, and refining their pitches. If one is looking to network, now is the time to do it. If one is looking to hone their pitches and get people’s feedback, now is the time to do it. If you’re just wanting to have fun and drink beer, now is the time to do it. This is the only time you’ll feel relaxed, so go meet people, drink beer, and get yourself ready to find an idea that intrigues you and some talented people that can help make an idea a reality.
Following the networking event is a speech by none other than a guest speaker. My speaker was Nat Parker, founder of Globe Sherpa, and he shared his founding experience. Nat shared his biggest challenges, tips on how he overcame them, and ideas that really helped keep his business stable. These insights certainly set the tune for the rest of the event and really give people something to think about when building out their ideas. People should be ready to pivot as they learn new information, and the speaker sets the tone for how you should build and pivot your idea to make the perfect product and business.
Following the speaker is the round of pitching. In a room of 150 people, 60 people got up to share their ideas in less than a minute. While some ideas resonated with me more than others, they all were good ideas. A good idea has a solution to a pain point. It is the speaker’s job to share their story and the pain points they have in a way that makes us all feel similarly. If you want to succeed in your pitch, you need to bring the audience along and engage them. Tell us how you encountered your pain point, what sort of solution you envisioned, and how your idea is going to make my life better in more ways than one. While there are multiple ways to engage an audience, I’d highly recommend sticking to this format as it’s the most successful at gaining audience engagement and support. I do remember clearly that one individual tried to engage the audience by taking off their shirt, but upon reflection, I have no memory of what their idea was. In hindsight it was probably a pretty poor idea. While they certainly did engage the audience, their idea failed to resonate with me.
After everyone who wants to pitch does, all attendees are given three stickers. Imagine these as golden tickets, for the best ideas will be selected by which ones have the most stickers. You can give all your stickers to one idea, or you can divvy them up between multiple groups. The decision is yours, but be sure to introduce yourself to the individual who you give your star too and make sure they know what your strengths and talents are. If their idea is chosen, you’re going to want to make sure you have a foot in the door with their team (although to be honest, the environment at Startup Weekend lets you join any team you want).
Once all the stickers have been given out, the top 10-13 ideas with the most stickers are selected as the contestants. From there, Startup Weekend attendees form groups and begin planning and building their ideas. When planning your idea, keep in mind that change will happen, so don’t spend too much time trying to set things in stone right out of the gate. Judges look for customer validation, so as you go out into the public and seek people’s feedback, understanding what the public’s pain points are and incorporating that back into your original idea will be important. On a number of occasions, the original idea will not look anything like the finished product or service. Important things to remember during this stage are: expect change and welcome it, be quick and ready to adapt, seek idea validation from as many people as possible, document your changes, and build a MVP (minimum viable product) that supports your idea. The MVP doesn’t need to be complete and polished, although that’s an added plus, but judges want to see some basic proof of concept.
Around 5pm on Sunday, the group’s time to work and develop their ideas comes to an end. Groups are then expected to give a five minute presentation to the judges that discuss how their ideas came about, is there a need for it, is there a market for it, what does the finished product or service look like, and is it feasible. Groups will be graded on a number of attributes, but the ones mentioned are very important to the presentation as it provides context to your idea.
Usually three winners are determined, one overall winner and two other’s that specialize in one area (such as best business opportunity). The winning teams are given prizes that prove useful if the team decides to hit the streets and get funding. While the prizes constantly change each time, their value is significant.
Startup Weekend is an amazing opportunity to learn new skills, push your talents to the limit, challenge yourself, and meet like-minded individuals. I cannot thank Startup Weekend enough for everything it has done for me and I look forward to meeting many new attendees that the upcoming Startup Weekend events.
We are proud to announce that PrestoBox is now a sponsor of Startup Weekend!
PrestoBox is the world’s first automated branding agency. Their research-backed Brand Genie guides you to a recommended brand and then you can instantly build your website, logo, and business cards.
Mixing top tier design with a patent-pending technology – and just a sprinkling of magic – PrestoBox helps small businesses quickly build their own personalized brand toolkits in a way that’s simple, engaging, and incredibly cost-effective. What used to cost thousands of dollars and take months of time now can happen at the snap of your fingers.
Presto! You’re branded.
And, for our lucky winners,
PrestoBox is donating branding packages to the winners of Startup Weekend. One winner will receive a deluxe branding package. Two winning teams will receive a brand kit and one hour consultation with one-on-one help from your personal Brand Genie expert. Each package includes a logo, business cards, a website and a brand guide to tie it all together.
I heard about Startup Weekend, back in 2012, but had no idea how I, as a designer, even fit into that world. Sure.. every business needs design… but, HOW do I actually fit in? With four weekends under my belt as a participant, mentor, organizer and/or design judge, I wanted to share with you some why designers are important at Startup Weekend.
Why designers are important at Startup Weekend:
– They help elevate an idea. If you can conceptually and visually execute your idea by the end of the weekend, the idea the team is working on will be perceived in a much clearer way.
– You bring more than just design. By being a designer, your task isn’t to make functional design that resonates, but to problem solve, project manage and understand users. Your input to the team goes so much further than just sitting behind the computer, executing. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up and be part of the conversation over the weekend! Startup Weekend encourages creativity and fresh ideas! (That is why you are here, right?!)
Why designers should try Startup Weekend:
– It is important to challenge ourselves and to expose ourselves, as designers, to a variety of situations. Being forced to work very quickly and closely with your team over the weekend, will stretch your limitations further than you can imagine.
– It is fun! You get to create something out of nothing, in an almost impossible timeline and the energy and excitement that comes from that fosters motivation and inspiration!
– You can win awesome prizes! As a designer for the weekend, you are eligible to win some pretty sweet prizes, if I do say so myself (I picked them out)! You get a one year subscription to either Photoshop CC or Illustrator CC (your choice), One month to skillshare.com and a dribbble invite!
Don’t forget to sign up today to claim your spot! Tickets go quick around here… if you are signing up as a designer, use coupon code PDXSW for 20% off.
If you have any questions regarding Startup Weekend, whether it is design related or not, feel free to tweet me @jehnglynn and I will be happy to answer them for you!
Enjoy this blog post from Zoe Landon past participant and organizer providing tips on how to persist and succeed at Startup Weekend.
Having done Portland Startup Weekend twice, and even leading a team once, I’m not going to lie – it’s an intense weekend. There’s a lot you can do, a lot of unknowns from hour to hour, and the prizes you could win can make for a lot of additional pressure. I’ve seen people just give up because they couldn’t handle it.
But it’s not actually that hard to handle. You can even get some sleep in the process! In order to do that, you just have to know what you’re getting yourself into. And you need to know what you’re really getting yourself into. No sugar-coating. With two weeks until the big day (okay, days) it’s time to get a bit real.
First things first – if you have the chance, go to the bootcamp on Saturday. My experience doing it was simultaneously awkward and educational – and it helped me refine my Friday pitch well enough to get a team together. When I came back in the spring, I skipped it. I’d already been to it once, I should remember everything, right? Nope.
Let’s say you get there on Friday, you pitch, and hooray! You’ve got a team together. Great! Don’t get attached. You’re going to learn a lot, very quickly. Among the things you will learn – your idea needs to change to best meet the market. Or, maybe it’s going to look different from how you imagined because of the time limit. Something is going to happen, like it happens to every business. The best leaders are flexible.
Speaking of flexibility – even if you aren’t leading, you’d better be flexible. Do what you don’t do. Startup Weekend has categories for different skills, but on the ground, they don’t matter. I’ve always signed up as a Developer, but I’ve gone on sales meetings and designed logos. You get so much more pushing out of your comfort zone. It’s hard, but if you do it, your experience (and your team’s) will be much better.
So, hooray! You’ve made it through the weekend, it’s Sunday pitch time! Don’t get your hopes up. Startup Weekend is a competition, so of course many teams won’t walk away with prizes. The prizes are sweet, but they aren’t the point. The point is learning and developing new skills, getting prizes are just a nice bonus. And if your goal is to keep your idea going after the weekend, it doesn’t matter if the judges pick you or not – companies have run for years after “losing” Startup Weekend.
All of which is to say: don’t get discouraged. The first rule of startups is persistence. If your pitch doesn’t get a team, that’s no reason to give up on it. If you find yourself or your team struggling to make progress, shift gears for a little while. Success comes from constantly doing. You can’t build a company without building; you can’t win Startup Weekend if you don’t participate.
(Oh, also: don’t eat all the food you get. You will go into a food coma.)
EdgeLink is pleased to announce that we will be a returning Gold Sponsor for Portland Startup Weekend, taking place November 14 – 16, 2014. The PSU Business Accelerator, Oregon’s leading technology incubator and the home to more than 30 promising technology and science startups, will host the event.
EdgeLink is a technology staffing firm that delivers exceptional technical talent and high-quality recruiting services enabling organizations to effectively respond to changes in workforce demands. We aren’t in business just to make a placement, rather find the right person for the right job – every time! Most recently, EdgeLink was named one of Inavero’s 2014 Best of Staffing for client satisfaction and also the 2014 Best of Staffing Diamond Award for achieving five consecutive years of industry-leading satisfaction scores from the talent they place.
Since our inception, we have focused on providing the best candidates for our clients’ technology staffing needs. From mid-to-executive level technology professionals across a full spectrum of technology skills, EdgeLink’s access to top talent can ensure a perfect match. With our Technology Staffing and Recruitment services, we provide placements on a contract, contract-to-hire and direct-hire basis.
Our associates place the needs of companies and candidates at the center of everything we do. We value strong ethics, integrity and a winning attitude. It is these principles that have defined EdgeLink’s culture and governs the way we conduct business. We truly believe in our mission of positively impacting the lives of the people and businesses we touch.
A guest blog post from Portland Startup Weekend organizer and past participant Shelby Miller about expectations for participants at the upcoming event.
So let me take a wild guess. You’ve heard about Portland Startup Weekend, but you’re not sure if you want to go. Reason why you don’t want to go include:
- “I hear there is a really big tech focus.”
- “I don’t think I’d really learn anything.”
- “I’m just your average Joe, and I don’t have any skills to contribute.”
These were the exact same thoughts I had when I was first debating going, but I’m sure glad I went. I was 23 years old, 4 months out of college, struggling to find work, and unsure of my skill set. Today, five months after my first Startup Weekend, I can happily announce I not only learned a lot about myself and the skills I can contribute to the work environment, but I also made valuable connections that have become the foundation to my professional network and found my first employer through the event! So, with that being said, I’d like to dispel three major myths about Startup Weekend, and help you have the same success I did!
The first myth I’d like to dispel is that Startup Weekend is all about technology. In the past, Portland Startup Weekend has had team form around homemade salsa, cold-brew coffee, a shipping company that relies on bicyclists, and many other non-technical ideas. I can say confidently that not every idea is technology related. Even when the idea was technology related, there were plenty of opportunities for those with non-technical skills to contribute and help out. For instance, one group tried to build a new online dating platform. While coders were certainly needed, the team also needed marketers to understand the online dating industry. These marketers scoured the Internet for information about the industry and went out onto the streets to speak to their target market to find current pain points among in their competitions’ sites. All this valuable information help this team develop a way to make their users feel more comfortable meeting up with online matches in real life. These insights came from people in their group that were willing to do research and talk to people – two skills that don’t require a technical background.
The second myth I’d like to dispel is the idea that because you can’t see yourself contributing, you can’t see yourself learning anything. The skills you learn at Startup Weekend benefit you in a number of ways. For my first Startup Weekend, I chose to take a leadership role and led a team of marketers in developing survey questions, asking people on the streets for idea feedback, building content for our website, and developing a business plan. All of this hard work gave me insights into the many areas of business that I otherwise would not have been exposed to. I simply relied on the limited skill set and experiences from college. Despite my lack of experience, my team helped bring me realize my strengths. And, we were awarded “Best Business Opportunity” by the judges. This award not only gave us access to awesome prizes, but various follow-up engagements that expanded our professional networks. At the end of the weekend, I came away with an increased knowledge of how to start a business, new professional connections, resume worth experiences, and an award.
The third myth I’d like to dispel is the idea that your skills don’t transfer over to a startup environment. This simply is not true. Startup Weekend attendees are divided into three groups: “Hackers,” “Hipsters,” and “Hustlers.” “Hackers” are the technical people; the ones who write the code to build an app for the software infrastructure. The “Hipsters” are the design people; they layout how the app will look, how users will interact with the good or service, and generate creative content. The “Hustlers” are the business guys; they validate the idea, build the business plan, figure out how to monetize and market the good or service. Whether you work for a graphic design firm, write blogs for fun, work in a law firm, build databases, make your living as a barista, or paint in your free time, Startup Weekend is a great opportunity for you to apply your skills to new and innovative projects.
Startup Weekend is an awesome event that allows participants to refine their skills and connect with new people all in a creative and innovative environment. Startup Weekend also accommodates individuals of all skills, ages, backgrounds, and experiences. Teams flourish when they can take advantage of everything each member brings to the table. The next Startup Weekend is November 14th-16th, and tickets are on sale. It will be a blast, and I encourage you to attend and tell your friends about it!
We are excited to announce that this November’s Portland Startup Weekend will be hosted by the PSU Business Accelerator.
If you haven’t heard of PSU Business Accelerator, you are missing out on a great Portland resource. The PSU Business Accelerator is an entrepreneurial community like none other in Oregon. PSU Business Accelerator is Oregon’s leading technology incubator and the home to more than 30 promising technology and science startups, including spinouts from all major Oregon research universities, PSU Business Accelerator provides office and lab space plus a menu of services designed with the fast-growing startup’s needs in mind.
Thank you PSU Business Accelerator for your support of Portland Startup Weekend! We look forward to having everyone join us for Startup Weekend at the PSU Business Accelerator on November 14-16th.
2828 SW Corbett Avenue, Suite 100
Portland, Oregon 97201
In April, we had the incredible honor of partnering with Intel. Not only is Intel one of the largest tech companies in the Pacific Northwest, it is a huge supporter of the regions’ entrepreneurial community. Intel generously allowed participants of our spring Startup Weekend the use of its cutting edge mobile technology and equipped our organizing team with mobile tools throughout the weekend. Additionally, this partnership is part of a long term vision to identify technology that we can use to enable and empower participants and organizers.
Throughout the event, Intel followed participants to see how they were using this technology to validate and launch their businesses. Shanna Doolittle, who pitched the idea for SlideUp – a web plugin that allows nonprofits to better connect with their donors online – sat down with the Intel team to share her idea and passion for the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. Check our her story below:
SlideUp was awarded Best Execution by our Judges for successfully launching their plugin, which could be found live on the Girls Rock Camp Alliance site. Shanna’s experience in, and passion for, nonprofit fundraising not only inspired a winning idea, it meets a real need. According to a recent study by Blackbaud, the leading provider of nonprofit software and services, mobile technology is changing the way donors and nonprofits interact – approximately 30 percent of nonprofits in the US have enabled their websites for mobile browsing, while more than half of donors report using their mobile phones to view websites. By using the latest in mobile to technology, SlideUp is well positioned to truly help nonprofits connect with their donors and successfully fundraise.