Don’t Quit Your Day Job…yet

The Side Hustle

We now live in what is called the “Gig Economy”. According to CNN Money, Over 44 Million Americans reported having a side hustle. So when your boss asks you why in the world you would want to go to a StartUp Weekend event, you can calmly remind him/her that you don’t intend on quitting your day job. In fact, side hustles are a great way for people to invest in themselves, have amazing experiences with their friends and family, and increase their quality of life. The majority of millennials with side hustles right now make over $500/month…$6000 a year makes a pretty good vacation budget, covers rent, covers car payments, or just buys you a lot of extra shoes if that’s what you’re into. The moral of the story is that a side hustle shouldn’t be something that people should be ashamed of. If I was your boss and you had a side hustle, I would be proud of an employee that has that kind of creativity and commitment to innovation! It will absolutely help out the company in the long-run when you think of their next big idea!

How to Hustle

So an extra $6000 a year sounds intriguing, eh? Well how can you get in on that money? It’s easy…go sit down in a barber shop, hair salon, coffee shop, or wherever people congregate. Listen to what they complain about. “Oh I wish we had a local place to buy xxx”, “My life would be such much easier if I had someone to help me with xxx”, or “I would pay so much money if I could just get xxx” are all phrases that should get your ears perked up. Once you find a problem that you think you might be able to solve, it’s time to validate it. Brings your friends or co-workers to dinner one night and show them what you’re doing. Ask “Is this cool?”, “Would you buy this?”, “How much would you spend on it?”, and “Do you know people who would like it?”. If the respective answers are “It’s really cool”, “I’d buy 10 at least”, “I’ll give you all my money for it”, and “How could anyone I know not like this?”, then I think you’re doing pretty good. If the only person that likes it is your mom and she says that she will buy one…well then we might need to go back to the drawing board. Point being – let the market help you decide what your side hustle should be and then let them help you figure out just how much you need to hustle.

Albert Einstein

When people think about entrepreneurship and innovation, they always think about having to be the next Albert Einstein. People think you have to invent Facebook or Uber in order to be a successful entrepreneur. This is where we really have to change the mentality. Do you make jams and jellies for fun at home – you can be a successful entrepreneur. Did you used to place a sport competitively and now you can coach/give lessons – you can be a successful entrepreneur. Are you really really good at watching tv – you can be a successful entrepreneur (well not by watching tv…but I’m sure you’re good at something else too!). The idea is, most people have the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and it generally doesn’t require you to re-create the wheel. Make money doing something you like to do.

Diversity of Thought

Get away from work for a day. Don’t surround yourself with the same people. Sure, they are your friends and coworkers, but you need some diversity of thought in your life. If all you do all day is think about commercial loans, running your department or testing products, it’s really hard be creative. Opportunities like StartUp Weekend Laramie on September 21-23 (shameless plug!) are a great way to test out your creativity and learn from some diverse thinking. So many people want to “think outside of the box”. If you’re doing your job every day from 9-5, good for you, but your box has become pretty small, right? So it should be easy to think outside of it. Get some new people in front of you to make you think differently, and watch the creative juices flow!

So What’s Next?!

I don’t know about you, but I’m impatient. Like, you just told me I could make an extra $6K a year…so let’s go already! Well you have a few different next steps to take. Option 1: Go at it alone. Sure, you can figure something out and get to hustling, but that might make your hustle kind of lonely… Option 2: You and your skills + your friend and their skills = better and less lonely side hustle. Option 3: Your ideas and skills + a whole group of entrepreneurial thinkers ideas and skills = best side hustle! Come to StartUp Weekend Laramie and attend other community events for potential entrepreneurs. Meet a group of people with a variety of skills who can all help you be successful in this first venture.

StartUp Weekend Laramie

Yes, I’ve mentioned this a few times…I know you’ve officially heard of it now, but so many people still haven’t. Consider sharing this post with your friends.  Young people can invest this money in themselves. Retired people can use the knowledge they have from industry experience to run a very successful side hustle. Stay at home spouses need to know about this to pay for a babysitter every Friday night for date night. Everyone is a winner here! So make sure to get your early-bird tickets and encourage everyone to get theirs before September 1st. You won’t regret it!

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What is StartUp Weekend Laramie?!?!

Solving Problems

Every single one of us knows that we live in an imperfect world. We have all thought about the problems that exist in our society and sometimes grouchy Uncle Larry likes to spout off a couple of extra problems you haven’t even thought about…who knew that, back in his day, sidewalks were straighter…

Okay, I’ll cut to the chase. Try out entrepreneurship. Come to StartUp Weekend Laramie on September 21-23!

Why don’t we try to solve those problems? This is what entrepreneurs do – they listen to people about what is wrong in their lives, in their towns, when they shop, with their children, etc. If you think you might be able to solve even one little problem, StartUp Weekend Laramie is for you! Be surrounded by people who want to think outside of the box, learn and test out their entrepreneurial skills, and help people!

So how does it work? It’s simple.

54 really fun hours fly by from Friday night on September 21st through Sunday the 23rd. People will pitch their ideas to solve problems. Everyone gets to vote on their favorites. And then you’re off and running with top mentors, help from industry experts, and much more! We don’t just want you to think about a business model or write a boring business plan. When you leave on Sunday, you might just be ready to make your first sale or build your website. Who knows?! The sky is the limit!

But what if I already have a job? It’s probably not for me, right?!

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a booming business that has you quitting your job and moving into a new mansion won’t happen overnight either. Thus, the invention of the “side hustle”! No it’s not just a lyric from a rap song…well it probably is, but that’s not the point! A side hustle, a tax-deductible hobby, vacation money. Call it what you want, but if you can help people in your spare time, I’d call it a win.

So bosses, tell your employees come play! Let them learn how to solve customers’ problems more efficiently and effectively. Employees, commit your weekend to having some of the most fun you will ever have. Will your brain be tired at the end? – Yes, but you will also be full on yummy food and full of really amazing thoughts you never dreamed could be possible. And who knows…maybe you just became the boss of a new business.

Okay. Okay. You talked me into it…so how to I get in?

Boy, I really had to twist your arm, didn’t I? Maybe I won’t tell you how to get early bird tickets anymore…Now you won’t get to meet a bunch of cool new people and have the chance to win a bunch of in-kind prizes to further your business.

Just kidding, we want absolutely anyone and everyone to come! I don’t care if you’re fresh out of high school, fresh out of organic chemistry class, or fresh out of the workforce and already bored of retirement. Everyone is welcome.

Either visit us on our facebook page: or go directly to our ticketing page here:

Early bird tickets are available now and end on September 1st. Sign up quick because there is limited space and first-come, first-served. Contact Steve Russell: if you have any questions. Ready…….GO!

Prize Packages To Jumpstart Your Startup

#GLSW2018 supports the innovators, visionaries, dreamers, and trailblazers in our community. 

Prize packages have been carefully curated to provide some of the services that a startup will need to hit the ground running.

The two top teams from startup weekend will each receive:

•    A yearlong membership to MatchBOX Coworking Studio.

•    A set of business cards printed by Instant Copy.

The top team will also receive these prizes in addition to those above:

•   An entity formation package from Gutwein Law that includes counsel and prepared documents / required state filings to form your company.

•    Web / App software consultation with DelMar to help you plan your minimum viable product and beyond.

•    A branding package to help your startup create a presence both on- and offline from three Indiana branding experts: Lux Strategic Communications, SFP, and Michael Meeks Photography.


We are so excited for our winning #GLSW2018 teams! Thanks to our sponsors for donating their time and expertise to helping these promising ventures take their business from #imaginary to #innovationIRL.

Northwest Arkansas Alive Recaps 2018 Startup Weekend

Northwest Arkansas ALIVE | NWA Startup Weekend (Season 02, Episode 08) from Northwest Arkansas ALIVE on Vimeo.

What You’ll Experience at a Techstars Startup Weekend

Written by Pattie Diggin/@wcprofpepper

You may be wondering what to expect when you participate in a Techstars Startup Weekend.  I felt the same way when I booked my 54 hour experience at Startup Weekend New York, June 26-28, 2017.  The venue for the weekend was Galvanize New York and the theme for ideas was Social Impact.

On the morning of June 26th I boarded an Amtrak train out of Exton, Pennsylvania and headed to one of my favorite places, NYC!  I arrived at Galvanize around 6pm, registered and enjoyed dinner and networking with a group of about 80 people. Some were there to pitch their ideas, others, like me were there to observe and participate in the process.

After dinner we moved on to “pitches”.  About 45 people made a 1 minute pitch on their idea for a possible new product or service.  The participants then selected the top 12 ideas that would be developed throughout the weekend.  If your idea was not selected or if you did not present you made your way over to one of the ideas that had been selected and joined a team of 4 or 5. Then the real work began!

Teams arrived back on Saturday morning ready to dig in, brainstorm, cooperate and create.  Throughout the day an impressive team of coaches and mentors were available to meet with participants.  Several workshops relevant to idea creation were also presented.

On Sunday groups worked diligently to put the finishing touches on their presentation.  As the afternoon drew to a close teams prepared to wow the 1st class judging panel with their idea.  Each team gave a 5 minute pitch followed by Q&A from the judges.  The three top ideas were recognized but everyone who attended and participated considered themselves a winner because everyone had the opportunity to participate in the Startup Weekend Process!












Startup Weekend Atlanta 2018 Recap!

From May 18 to 20 Startup Weekend returned to Atlanta for the first time in three years. The event brought together people with ideas they wanted to pursue and problems they wanted to solve, but who didn’t necessarily know where to start or who to start with. Techstars Startup Weekend is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend.

The event kicked off on Friday, with dinner and networking, inspiring speeches, pitching ideas, voting, and forming teams. Attendees arrived with ideas they were not able to be anything they had previously worked on. The ideas pitched and the problem that attendees set out to solve spanned social, educational, financial, environmental, or other issues. To give you an idea, of the 66 attendees, 27 pitched ideas, but only 8 teams made it through to the end with fully formed teams and presentations.

On Saturday, coaches met with teams to work on their ideas, lead their work processes, get them closer to their MVPs, and helped them to pivot and rework entirely, where necessary. Teams worked at our Atlanta Tech Village venue from 9am to 10pm, with some heading to other locations to continue working through the night.

On our final day, Sunday, teams were back at 9am to validate their ideas, build their presentations and rehearse their pitches – again with the help of our expert coaches. Teams jumped on these final opportunities to ask their coaches questions and to become as strong as possible for their presentation to the judged.

At 5pm we kicked off the final presentations and judging! Pitches were 5 minutes each, with a 5 minute Q&A from the judges. The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams were judged according to the following 3 criteria, each weighted equally:

  • Business Model
    • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?
  • Customer Validation
    • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • Execution & Design
    • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

The ideas pitched were:

  • Who Hub – a communication hub to aggregate all of your communication channels.
  • Akilah – personal shopping e-commerce software, to upsell customers by offering curated looks in real time.
  • Sorter.AI – helps you market more intelligently using psychological insights.
  • BridgEd – improving teaching through more affordable and higher quality resources.
  • Side Hustle Uni – a ‘side hustle’ course platform.
  • SimplyRx – a metasearch to get you the best price before your prescription is dispensed.
  • Piggybank – streamlining accelerator and incubator investment in small businesses.
  • College Advisor – early college advising for high school students.

After these amazing presentations from passionate participants, the judges deliberated before awarding the prizes! Sorter.AI came in at first place, with Akilah in second place and BridgEd in third. Thanks so much to all of our teams who pitched, the standard overall was exceptionally high and it was incredible to see how far these concepts came in just one weekend.

Everyone from the Startup Weekend Atlanta team would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated, coached, sponsored, or supported this inaugural event. Specifically, we’d like to give a final thanks to our:

  • Signature sponsor Atlanta Tech Village
  • Platinum sponsor 1218 Kitchens
  • Gold sponsors Florence Healthcare, SalesLoft and Hannon Hill
  • Silver sponsors Calendly and Your Ideas Are Terrible
  • Community Partner the Global Shapers Atlanta Hub, who took the lead organizing the entire event
  • Community Partners Hypepotamus and WeWork
  • In-kind sponsors Sticker Giant and Futography LLC
  • Speaker Jeff Goldblatt, Virality Expert & Startup Philosopher (
  • Judges Michael Cohn, Managing Director of Techstars Atlanta, JP James, Managing Director at Libreum International, and Patrick Dupree Practice Manager, Technology Media and Telecom Practice at Bain & Company
  • Facilitator Ann-Marie Nunziata
  • Coaches and mentors Sheehan Toufiq, Jon Birdsong, Tami McQueen, Andres Garcia, Seth Radman, Darrah Brustein, Jason Crain, Lindsay Trinkle, Jason Elliott, Marissa Swanson, Jerica Richardson, Justin McLeod, Erica Stanley and Luke Beard

From Friday to Sunday evening it was extremely exciting to see how much the participants had transformed, and we received so much positive feedback from people who didn’t know what to expect but walked out of the weekend having learned a lot and having made new connections.

We hope to announce new events throughout the year. Please let us know if you’d like to be involved in any way, as we are always open to fresh perspectives and enthusiasm. Contact our organizing team at with any comments, questions or feedback!

Thanks again and see you next time!

– The Startup Weekend Atlanta organizing team

10 Tips to Winning a Startup Weekend

Here are some lessons from former Startup Weekend winners.  Those winners share info on how they won Startup Weekend.

1. Designate a project manager from the get-go and define your methods of communication.

“Luckily, my team had a project manager who stepped up and got us organized within the first 15 minutes of getting to work. We added everyone to a Google Drive folder and created a comprehensive Google Doc to keep track of everything. We wanted to use a communication tool that everyone was familiar with and that could get the job done, quick and simple.”

2. Work backwards.

Thirty minutes into our initial discussion, our project manager interrupted our noisy chatter and asked: what’s the end goal? We stopped talking over and around one another and actually listed out our personal goals/expectations as well as went over the judging criteria in as much detail as possible. We created a road map.

3. Divide and conquer.

The first 45 minutes were rough. I honestly thought to myself, “Oh boy. I’ve never lead a team this big. I have no idea what I’m doing.” It was a nightmare trying to collaborate as a team of 8, especially with very different thinking mentalities. My team members had engineering, design, development, marketing, and finance backgrounds. This was great for collaborating, but it was also a challenge trying to get everyone on the same page.

We roughed our way through a hypothesis to the problem and then quickly divided the team based on skill set: Development/design; Business modelling and finance; and Customer validation/marketing.

4. Validate, validate, validate.

All of our features and pricing model were based on market research with our target audience. We knew it would be the key to our success so we focused our attention on it from the start. We created an online survey, approached strangers at a busy location where we knew our target audience would be and intimately interviewed 10 potential customers. It helped us paint a clearer picture of the problem we were trying to solve and how we were going to solve it (and make money doing so!).

5. Check in with your teammates.

Dividing and conquering and having a project manager to keep track of it all is great, but it’s so important to check in with your teammates. I constantly asked if they were still having fun (one of their personal goals for the weekend) and how they were feeling. Sure, this is touchy-feely and didn’t contribute to hard development, but it helped us become a unified team.

6. Take advantage of free advice, but be specific in your ask.

We requested two marketing coaches who were members of our target audience. We interviewed them and got testimonials then dove into questions about the business model. The development team requested a great coach near the end of Day 2, who showed them a WordPress theme that would make development a whole lot easier. It wasn’t that easy to transition to, but it paid off in the end and our developers learned A LOT about customizing

WordPress themes. 🙂

7. Show your team you trust them. Don’t micromanage.

I caught myself doing it on the first night. (I literally started typing on someone else’s computer, then shamed myself!). Take a leap of faith and let them take a stab at delivering. Then give them your feedback.

8. Laugh. Have fun.

When I walked by some of the groups to grab lunch, they looked so serious. We were a ‘punny’ group, and I highly encouraged any and all silliness. During crunch time, a teammate and I looked at a ‘Makes me Giggle’ Pinterest page for a minute, had a (really) good laugh, and then got back to work.

9. Be authentic.

Alice Reimer, one of the co-founders of Evoco (acquired by Accruent) gave an inspirational talk on pitching and one of her key points was to be authentic. You could tell she lived and breathed it, and she was truly inspiring. The final pitches that grabbed my attention (and stopped me from glancing at the #swyyc Twitter feed), were the ones where the founder was clearly passionate about the idea and it showed in their eyes.

10. Take care of your body: Hydrate. Eat well. And sleep, somewhat.

Drinking lots of water = lots of bathroom breaks = getting out of your chair for a brief burst of exercise. #Winning.

Don’t just stock up on the sugary treats and salty snacks. Eat lots of fruit, veggies, and get your protein. Thankfully one of our team members brought a 2lb bag of apples everyday. My dentist will be happy with the results.

Sleep is also really important. However, I can’t say I did much of it. I was running on pure adrenaline when I finished my pitch on Sunday evening. Yes, I may have laughed more than usual, but I was ok for the most part and got caught up on sleep the following day.

Good luck!

How Startup Weekend Helped This Travel Entrepreneur Soar

It was a hot day in Tampa. Craig Chavis was in his MBA program when his passion for travel suddenly hit him with an idea: he wanted to find a way to help locals on the ground better facilitate travel for tourists. He brought his idea to a Tampa Bay Startup Weekend in 2012 and was met with a shock; not only was his goal appealing to many of the members, it was chosen as one of the startup ideas to be developed that weekend.

Chavis was paired with a team of all backgrounds and even got some input from Tampa Bay Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a frequent participant at the event. Not only was it a memorable weekend, it was a conducive one for Chavis: Three of his team members went on to join him in operating his Startup Weekend idea into a full fledged startup called iNomadz.

Chavis credits the Startup Weekend experience to much of his growth as an entrepreneur, especially in the technology space. “Without the first Startup Weekend, I wouldn’t understand what is needed to develop a startup. I ran a t-shirt company and a DJ company but was completely new to technology — terms like front end, back end, MVP weren’t part of my line of thinking.”

After getting his feet wet in the Tampa Bay Startup Weekend experience, Chavis has continued to be a frequent participant in the Weekends — in addition to another weekend in Tampa, he has also participated in a Startup Weekend in DC and another weekend in Birmingham.

Chavis currently runs a startup called Visajump, an application that aims to provide real time tourist visa information in less than 30 seconds from 252 countries, territories and inhabited islands. Not only has he met one of his co-founders through a Startup Weekend, he has used many of the principles in the development of his new startup. As soon as he had the idea for Visajump, he quickly moved to create a clickable prototype without second guessing every part of the process, a skill nurtured in Startup Weekend.

What advice does he have for people doing Startup Weekend for the first time?

“Go with the flow,” Chavis explains. “Whether your idea is selected or whether you are part of a team, enjoy the process. You don’t actually have to be the one pulling all the strings to gain from Startup Weekend — even joining a team and bringing a new perspective to an idea can be a huge win.”

Inspired by Craig’s story? Find a Startup Weekend near you and make some magic:

Craig (front left) with his Startup Weekend DC team

Prize Packages for NWA Startup Weekend

A speaker from Google comes to Startup Weekend Evansville 7.0

Yes, you read that correctly – Google! We are so stinking excited to announce that Erin Bemis will be our speaker Saturday afternoon at Startup Weekend Evansville 7.0!!! Yup, your ticket that already gets all your meals for the weekend and gets you all the entrepreneurial education and access to thousands of dollars worth of business and legal coaching now also grants you access to a trainer from Google’s Get Your Business Online program!

We want as many people to participate and enjoy SWEVV as possible, but we know some of you have other commitments that weekend.  If you cannot participate in the whole weekend, you can attend the Google presentation on Saturday. Tickets are only $25 and includes your lunch!  So don’t delay – get your tickets today!

About the Program: Get Found on Google Search and Maps

Join us as an expert from Google’s Get Your Business Online program teaches about getting found on Google. Explore Google My Business, a free tool for local businesses, who want to connect with customers on Google Search and Maps. Get hands-on help creating or updating your listing, and take advantage of a free website.


About The Speaker: Erin Bemis

Erin is a speaker for Google’s Get Your Business Online program. She has spent the vast majority of her career working for and with small businesses and nonprofits in a variety of roles.  Her passion for small business began with her family owned businesses. After college she learned the ins and outs of nonprofits, earning consecutive titles of Midsize Chamber of Commerce of the year as it’s executive.  In recent years, she’s been working with marketing and technology companies like Constant Contact and Google, whose products make digital marketing easier for small businesses.

Erin Bemis


Erin has educated tens of thousands of attendees across North America in both small and large groups. A small business owner herself, she promises that you will leave today with simple, easy tips to immediately improve your marketing program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing and Business Administration, along with a minor in French.