Why do I want to be involved with Startup Weekend?

Winners of SWMU2016
Winners of SWMU2016

Not sure if Startup Weekend is for you or are concerned you will waste $25? Well, have you
ever had a business idea, an inclination to create your own business, wanted extra business
practice, or more experience working on a team? If you answered yes to any of these
questions, then Startup Weekend is the place for you! Use your $25 to launch your future. Your
$25 doesn’t just include your 48-hour experience with Startup Weekend, it’s an investment in
your future. In both 2015 and 2014 the first and second place winners participated in the
Brandery’s mini-accelerator course and have helped raise over $300,000 on Kickstarter.
Pitch to the judges, potentially work with companies, and take your idea past this weekend.
Can’t wait to see these amazing ideas come to life. Don’t miss this unique opportunity, sign up
now!Blog Post Content

Get Excited for #SWMU Again!

Startup Weekend Miami University is quickly approaching! Spots are limited, so sign up for only $25 to be a part of #SWMU. This is a weekend for students to practice critical entrepreneurial skills and for others to learn, all while earning a 1-hour credit for ESP 102. Be there for the 48 hours that it takes to bring your idea from start to finish.

Startup Weekend is a great opportunity for students from all majors to come create ideas together, practice teamwork, communication, and critical leadership skills. Mark your calendars and sign up now to be a part of this amazing event!

A Designer’s Perspective

Dennis attended Startup Weekend 2013 on a whim, and now he is an organizer bringing the event back to Northwest Arkansas. If that doesn’t tell you how valuable he believes this event is, check out the video created by Give a Damn, below.

Promo video for NWA Startup Weekend

Click the link here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/techstars-startup-weekend-nwa-0309-tickets-41320862813?aff=blog

From Startup Weekend to Shark Tank: An Interview with Tom Burden

SHARK TANK - "Episode 912" - A U.S. Air Force fighter-jet machine-gun mechanic from Columbus, Ohio, introduces a high-performance problem-solver; an entrepreneur from Queens, New York, hopes the Sharks bite into a DNA test that aims to aid and optimize medical research; a Dallas, Texas, entrepreneur duo hopes to lure the Sharks with their high-tech solution for a common household chore; robots and drones are all the rage with boys, but one Bethesda, Maryland, entrepreneur is hoping to encourage more girls to get into coding and technology, on "Shark Tank," SUNDAY, NOV. 12 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) RICHARD BRANSON, MARK CUBAN, LORI GREINER, TOM BURDEN (GRYPMAT)

Startup Weekend is all about meeting great people, learning new things, and building something awesome.

There’s probably no better example of this than Tom Burden, who’s taken his Startup Weekend idea all the way to Shark Tank.

How did he pull it off?

SW Organizer Alex Bell caught up with Tom to learn exactly that.

Getting Traction

Alex: How did you find out about Startup Weekend and when did you first attend?

Tom: So, I first found out about Startup Weekend back in the day when I wanted to start doing the Grypmat, around the end of 2013.

I found the LaunchPad Incubator in Toledo and they had a business competition called Pitch & Pour. I applied to it and I got denied and then they were like “well, we’ve got an event called Startup Weekend” and I was like, “sweet, I’ll try it out” and ended up getting first place.

Around 2015, I started helping out with Columbus Startup Weekend after I realized it was like a networking powerhouse and there’s so much stuff that I could learn that I didn’t know from my startup, all of the tips and tricks of how to do things faster and easier.

If there’s a way to do it free, it’s at Startup Weekend, if there’s a way to find it as cheap as possible, it’s at Startup Weekend. There might be like a software program, like “hey, you can get a free or a trial version or if you actually use these other two softwares combined, it will give you the same output.”

So, yeah, it’s a very scrappy community.

Alex: So you had this idea for the Grypmat and you were just looking to really sink your teeth in, you wanted to go to this launch pad innovator/accelerator place and be part of their program but for whatever reason you weren’t legit enough for them, so they sent you to Startup Weekend first.

Tom: Yeah. It was just too early for the Pitch & Pour, Startup Weekend was more of where I was at in entrepreneurship – I needed to learn a lot more about startup stuff.

There was a lot of stuff that I didn’t even think about at the time, like how do you pitch an idea, make an effective presentation, how to be on stage, how do you describe your idea or get feedback from customers and stuff like that.

We tried to make a prototype over the weekend and it turned out horrible, like “OK, we’re not going to put that on stage.”

Alex: So Startup Weekend was kind of the perfect way to get Grypmat started, get some of those connections, get some of the skills built, get some of the threads of things that you can pull on to go further, like ‘OK, now I need to figure out this now, I need to learn that’.

Tom: Yeah.

Alex: That’s awesome. That first time you pitched the idea for the Grypmat and it was one of the ideas that were chosen for the weekend?

Tom: Yeah, I think they took like 10 ideas and mine was the tenth.

Alex: Was it specifically for aircraft then or what was your idea at that point?

Tom: Yeah, yeah. I was a National Guard F16 Weapons Mechanic at the time, so the idea was that whatever part of a jet you’re working on, you would have a different mat that’s form-fitted for that part of the jet.

Alex: That’s awesome. You mentioned you tried to build a prototype and it didn’t work out really well. What did that look like?

Tom: So we were trying out this grip material, like a paint that you can put on tool handles to grip them better.

I also bought some wire mesh – kind of like a screen door – and I would cut it into a shape that I wanted and then I try to coat it with the grip paint.

It just turned into a dripping mess and we ended up throwing it out.

Alex: Definitely not worthy of using in your final presentation.

Tom: Yeah, yeah. I wish I would have taken a picture of it and put that in the presentation, like ‘yeah, we tried to make a prototype, it didn’t work’.

Alex: That would have been great, judges and people in general like to see “here’s how hard we failed this weekend”

So you tried to make this prototype, did you just end up with a presentation, did you guys have some sort of like 3D AutoCAD kind of design or did you have anything for the presentation other than just “here’s us pitching the idea?”

Tom: Probably, the most impressive part of the presentation was that I had some of the material [that I make Grypmats out of].

I put the material on a stool and I put my iPod on top of it while playing a song, then I took the stool and I moved it so that iPod was vertical, still playing music.

I also had a model of a jet with little bits of material stuck to it to visually see that where we need this gripey material on the curved surfaces of a jet.

Alex: That makes sense, having a sort of visual aid that maybe doesn’t look pretty but shows what you were trying to do.

So all in all what was your impression of that first weekend? Obviously winning was a big highlight.

Staying Scrappy

Tom: Yeah, winning was super exciting and you feel like you’re on cloud nine.

Then Monday hits and you’re just like “everyone is just going to like me and everything’s going to work” and it doesn’t work that way.

I remember I was like “wow, I need to make a working prototype!”

I figured, if anyone can make it, it’s a college engineering department, so I just kept asking professor after professor after professor where I could go to get something made and people kept saying “I don’t know what you can do, and I have no idea anyone that you could go to.”

The thing you’ve got to understand is you’re not the top priority of these people’s lives, when you’re going to them, the chances of them being to execute what you need are slim – even if they can do it they might not want to make the time.

I finally got to talking with the Dean of Engineering and he was like “we’ve got this machine shop that could get it made.”

So I went to the machine shop, ended up making some stuff and none of it worked.

At the same time, I was talking to some people in charge of an innovation grant and they directed me to this prototyping company that was actually in Columbus.

That company told me that it was going to be $15000 to make a prototype and I was like “no, that’s outrageous. I can do a lot of the drawings and all the research and a lot of the stuff myself, I just need them to help make it, I don’t need $10,000 put into brainstorming, I just want this made.”

At the time there was some magic to being broke.

If I had $100,000 back then, I would have created a product that would have been complete trash but the thing is, if I have a $100,000 now, I can turn that into a million dollars probably within six months.

When you’re at that broke phase, well, there’s two ways you can go about it.

You can either say, A – “there’s no other route to go and I’m going to quit” or B – you can constantly say “how can this happen, how can we create a solution, get around this or is there another way or another avenue.”

I could have sat there – I actually did stop for three or four months when I was waiting to hear back from this prototyping company, I was just sitting around expecting them to do it.

Eventually I realized, if I work with this company, something may come to light, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to keep pushing my business forward.

So I went back to asking different professors for help and eventually found this company in Toledo that sells these two-part chemicals I needed to make Grypmats.

He just knew everything, “yeah, the best way to do it would be this,” “make sure you take this, release and spray it so it doesn’t stick to the wet mold,” – things it might have taken me a long time to figure out on my own.

So I finally got the answer I was looking for but it took a lot of people to get just that one answer.

And with that answer, I built the first Grypmat mold during Thanksgiving break in my dad’s barn and for about $60.

Alex: I imagine working through that was tough.

It sounds like it took a lot of heading back to the grindstone of “Oh, this might be a lead. No, this isn’t working out, what do I do now? Well, I could give up but is there a next thing? What’s that next thread that I can start pulling on to keep making some more progress?”

Tom: I would always envision that I wanted to try every single door to see if one opens and when one opens, who knows what I’d find on the other side.

That’s how I thought when I was going to all these different professors, “okay this door is locked or this door is not opening. Ok, here’s one that opened, what’s it going to? Well, it’s going to someone else that knows about these materials, OK we’re kind of making progress, now that led to making a prototype. Now, with the prototype, we can show people the product, what’s the next row of doors? Let’s get funding or how do we get this manufactured.”

You’re just constantly trying every single option or door you can get your hands on until one works.

Alex: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Solid life advice even outside of entrepreneurship.

So, you’ve been back to Startup Weekend since that first time, you mentioned the learning and networking as reasons why.

Tom: Yeah, the community is great. A lot of the best friends that I have now and the people that I work with are from Startup Weekend.

It’s not just professional networking, it’s also personal networking, making friendships and meeting like-minded people.

Also, I always felt like the people who organized Startup Weekend are like just on another level of being scrappy.  I’ve always felt that if I were to work with all of the Startup Weekend people, we would take over the world because you’re raising money and putting these events together to lay the foundation for all of these potential companies in your free time.

So, yeah, any of the organizers, the facilitators, they’ve always been like top notch, it’s always good to be around other people like that.

Making the Future

Alex: For sure.  This my first year of organizing and definitely, it’s cool learning from all the different people and figuring out how to make this thing work.

Next question is kind of a big one: what are you working on now?

Obviously, there’s the Grypmat – hopefully everybody’s seen your Shark Tank presentation.

For those that haven’t, you got a deal and now your Startup Weekend idea is a real company, you’ve got people working with you, you’re traveling around – what’s next?

Tom: So the next step is really expanding our team – this morning, I was talking with a couple of potential interns.

At the same time, we’re growing the Grypmat from something that’s just for Aviation into a product for tool organization.

So it started as “Oh, if you work on planes, you should probably get the Grypmat.”  Now it’s “if you work with tools or you like to be organized and you have physical things that aren’t being organized, you should probably get a Grypmat.”

We’re getting a lot of attention from automotive, military, medical, quite a few different spots within the beauty supplies, we’re experimenting and testing these different markets.

So, that’s kind of the direction of we’re growing into as a company.

And beyond just growing the company, the team and I are starting to see that the mat will be a great segue to get contacts and resources in nearly every single market.

In the future, if I have a product for military, I’m already going to know how to get a product within the military, if I have something for automotive, I’ll already have all the contacts to do so – we’ll be making a handful of phone calls to put things into motion rather than trying to build relationships.

Along with that, I want to be the model company for the Sharks, where they’ll need a system for a new company and I’ll say “well, this is how we’ve been doing it and it’s kind of scrappy, it’s kind of new, but it’s been extremely fruitful” and then they’ll basically have their other companies adopt those systems.

I guess that’s really the long-term vision – optimizing systems.

I mean, I think about what it would be like if we got to the point where Grypmat lowers costs for airlines, then they can drop their ticket prices to be more competitive and better serve their customers.

The same thing with Medicare – what if we get to the point where the operating room is so efficient that operations become less expensive.

I get it, it’s just a rubber tray right now, but I believe my strong point is inventing and seeing these flaws in the systems and I feel like Grypmat is just kind of a stepping stone for going further in that direction.

Alex: That’s awesome dude, I love how you’re aligning where you’ve been, what you’re doing today, and where you want to be in another 10 years so well.

Is there anything else you want to mention before I let you go?

Tom: Yeah, if you’re interested in entrepreneurship or startups or not, I think it’s definitely worth going to Startup Weekend.

I’ve never heard of anyone who has gone and didn’t find it life-changing or didn’t leave with a new friend or inspired; everyone who goes leaves with something that’s very impactful to their life.

Alex: Awesome, thanks for your time Tom!

To Learn More

Be sure to follow the latest Grypmant News on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you’re coming to our next Startup Weekend, you can meet Tom in person – he is Saturday’s featured speaker!

Startup Weekend: A Life Changing Event

Thoughts from facilitator, Chad Williamson:

I remember it very vividly because I wasn’t supposed to be there. My wife and I were visiting good friends for the weekend and I told her I would only go for the initial pitches. I was just there to observe and learn (that’s it) so I could understand what Startup Weekend was all about. We were still in the listening and learning phase of building Noble Impact and hadn’t even launched yet. So there I was on a Friday evening, in the back of the room, listening to people pitch different ideas for businesses. Next thing I knew, I was on stage doing the same and had 60 seconds to pitch my idea. Not sure what came over me but I had to get my idea out there and evidently, some other people liked it. It was an idea that made it through to the final group of teams, which would be worked on for the entire weekend by myself and the other six people that believed in it. However, my wife was expecting me back for dinner as I told her I was only going to watch the initial pitches. Needless to say, our weekend plans took a pivot.

That was April of 2013, the first ever Arkansas Startup Weekend, which happened at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and it changed my life.

Startup Weekend is an event that has the ability to change lives because the atmosphere is supportive, inclusive, and positive.

It’s what Nick Sequin (Startup Weekend Board Member) calls the tip of the spear for entrepreneurship. That Friday in April of 2013, my voice was heard and other people believed in my idea. It was empowering and rewarding…the next two days were crazy and energizing. As we prepared for our final pitch that Sunday, you could feel the urgency, the energy, and the butterflies…and it all felt great. We ended up winning. That’s when I knew that Startup Weekend would play a big role in the development of Noble Impact.

Soon after that, I contacted the CEO of Startup Weekend, Marc Nager and went to meet with him in Seattle, where Startup Weekend was headquartered at the time. He and other members of his team confirmed my thought that Startup Weekend could be beneficial for high school students as well. Therefore, in the spring of 2014, we hosted the first ever High School Startup Weekend, which was a great success.

It’s not just one and done. It’s not just a religious experience. If you allow it, Startup Weekend is a place to form relationships while expanding your mind to new ideas and possibilities.

For me, many of the relationships I started at that first one in 2013 continue to this day on a very deep level. My current roommate in Little Rock, Jordan Carlisle, was one of the facilitators for that initial event and it’s where we first met. It’s where I first met Jeston George, CEO of Apptegy as he was in the initial stages of even thinking about Apptegy…now one of the fastest growing startups in Arkansas.

When the people from Startup Junkie asked me if I was interested to facilitate Startup Weekend NWA, it was an easy answer in my mind…”Hell yeah!”

So, this blog post is a selfish plea for any Arkansan that has an itch to be scratched, that wants to pursue more, to imagine more, and to meet other people that feel the same way. At least come to the pitches, you never know what will happen. Who knows, maybe you’ll pitch…maybe other people will like your idea…and maybe you’ll win. But you’ll never know unless you put yourself out there. Startup Weekend is coming to Northwest Arkansas on March 9th and tickets are available on Eventbrite. If you have any hesitation, call me, 813.293.8969…I’ll talk you into coming and trust me, it’ll change your life. 

Can you really build a startup in 54 hours?

Absolutely! If you don’t believe it’s possible, then by all means join us and experience it for yourself. Bring those ideas that have been rolling in the back of your mind, or just come ready to roll up your sleeves and pitch in on another idea. The weekend moves swiftly and you will make incredible connections that will last a lifetime!

Just last month we convened for Startup Weekend Nogales, the first bi-national US/Mexico Startup Weekend event held Dec 1-3, 2017. The first place award went to team “What’s Guchi”, creators of a Facebook Messenger chatbot that helps you make ideal “going out” plans. This conversational agent uses a combination of AI and social media queries to recommend evening plans for users based on their preferences, friends, location, and mood. With this win in hand, the team plans to continue evolving the product and monetizing the platform with a creative approach to merchant sponsorship. Check it out at http://m.me/whatsguchi. The winning team is comprised of Arissa Gonzalez (TUC), Elijah Viramontes (PHX), Lauren Witte (PHX), Rebecca Clyde (PHX), Ruth Vela (PHX) and Saul Macias (Nogales).

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekend culminates in Sunday night demos and presentations. Participants create working startups during the event and collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks.

Make sure to get your early bird ticket for Startup Weekend PHX (Feb 16-18) before prices go up on Jan. 27.



6 Reasons to Go to Startup Weekend Rocklin

Startup Weekend  has so much to offer to the local community. Even if you don’t have an idea of your own that you want to develop, there are still a lot of great reasons to participate.

1) You’ve Got an Idea
The most obvious reason to come to Startup Weekend is that you’ve got an idea that you want to develop and you need some help creating a business plan, validating your market, or creating a mockup of an app. At Startup Weekend you’ll find others with the skills to help you take your idea to the next level and beyond.

2) You’ve Got Skills You Want to Share
Ok, maybe you don’t have an idea for a new startup, but chances are good that you’ve got skills and knowledge that will be incredibly valuable to others participating in the event. Whether you’re a programmer, developer, designer, marketer, or business person, your skills and experience are needed. Team up with an entrepreneur whose idea resonates with you and you could play a key role in helping to launch an idea.

3) Get Noticed through Networking
Even if you don’t win the competition, the whole weekend is a great opportunity to meet others, share your skills and knowledge, and get noticed.

4) Access to Experienced Coaches and Mentors
We’ve got a very strong line-up of experienced mentors and coaches participating, with years of knowledge and experience that you will be able to tap into. Where else are you going to have access to such great advice in one place over a 3 day period?

5) Great Learning Opportunities
You’ll learn more in one weekend about startups, entrepreneurship, and business than you could ever imagine. You’ll be able to apply what you learn at Startup Weekend to developing your own products or business.

6) Get Involved in the Local Startup Community
The global startup movement is growing and Sacramento has a great, vibrant startup community. Startup Weekend is a great opportunity to meet others in the Sacramento startup community and get involved with the revitalization of our region.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now for your chance to tap into all the great opportunities that await you at Startup Weekend Rocklin

Techstars Startup Weekend is Coming to Rocklin

Calling all Placer County entrepreneurs! Do you have an idea you’d like to pursue or a problem you’d like to solve but don’t know where to start or who to start with?

Techstars Startup Weekend is coming to Rocklin February 23 – 25, 2018. Startup Weekend: Rocklin is your chance to launch a company in just 54 hours! This empowering event offers a fun, intense, risk-free way to get your startup off the ground; connect with other passionate and skilled individuals; and perhaps even find a co-founder or two to transform your ideas into reality.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: pitch your startup idea and receive feedback from your 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, designing, and market validation. The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

When: Friday, February 23 – Sunday, February 25, 2018
Where: Hacker Lab Rocklin, 4415 Granite Drive #200 Rocklin, CA 95677

Your idea should be something you have not previously worked on. The idea you pitch and the problem you set out to solve can span social, educational, financial, environmental, or other issues. Over the course of the weekend you’ll be challenged to create a prototype of your MVP, or minimum viable product, that fits the needs of your target customer. You’ll get feedback, iterate, and likely pivot your approach entirely! Important: You cannot have worked previously on your idea.

Techstars Startup Weekend is a full weekend long experience. Your ticket includes:

  • 7 full (and delicious) meals over the course of the weekend
  • Benefits and discounts from our global partners
  • One-on-one time with amazing mentors
  • A new network of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs eager, like you, to change the world.
  • All the internet and coffee you can consume

Still have questions, feel free to reach us at rocklin@startupweekend.org or check out our Frequently Asked Questions.


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Learn How to Create Your Startup Idea! – Free Workshop

Still not sure if you’re idea has the potential to be a startup?

You’re in luck! The Sacramento Startup Weekend team is hosting a series of free workshops that gives attendees or those interested in attending a chance to develop their ideas to pitch at the 2018 Sacramento Startup Weekend, Women’s Edition.

Mark your calendars and plan to join us at any of the upcoming FREE events:

  • Thursday, January 11 at 5:30 pm at Hacker Lab in Midtown
  • Thursday, January 18 at 6:00 pm in Davis
  • Thursday, January 30 at 6:00 pm at Sac State

What you can expect at this workshop:

Our team has developed a hands-on agenda that will help attendees understand what makes a strong startup idea that has the potential to be a business. Using IDEO’s Human-Centered Design methods, attendees will walk away with one or more ideas, and understand the beginnings of validating a startup idea.

This workshop is the perfect introduction to the upcoming Startup Weekend Sacramento, Women’s Edition happening February 9 – 11 in Downtown Sacramento. Bring your Startup Weekend questions and be ready for a great time!