You Come to DC to Change the World

On July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, PA, Thomas Jefferson and some of his buddies, including Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and others, signed a parchment to found a new country, declaring their spin-off as a new entity wholly separate from its parent, Britain. These men came from different walks of life – ranging from lawyers and doctors to businessmen and inventors – and they hustled, strategized, and innovated passionately on a startup that became the United States of America. It’s not common to think of these men as entrepreneurs, but they are quintessential examples.

Washington DC has been and continues to be home to people who have both the desire and capability to change the world.  When big problems need to be solved with the big levers of governments and institutions, you find the nexus of power and people here, in the District of Columbia.  Not only the seat of the US government, Washington is the home to the World Bank and other international development banks, the IMF, and some of the most significant and influential non-profit and double bottom-line organizations in the world, as well as countless advocacy and non-government organizations seeking to make change.

That change can sometimes be slow, messy and difficult.  The institutions of Washington are complete with large bureaucracies that are sometimes allergic to innovation and bogged down in red tape, so those from Washington sometimes get painted with the same brush.  But under the hood, there’s much more to Washington than the apparent bureaucracy. Washington DC has a vibrant startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem that is growing by leaps and bounds, driven by highly-educated and motivated technologists.

Imagine what could happen if we merge these mostly separate and independent ecosystems? What if we could bring together a motivated group of people with skills and experience in policy, business, design, development, and entrepreneurship, with a common passion to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the world? The possibilities are endless.

We’ve been observing the lay of the land and see the time is ripe to plant and incubate seeds of ideas and mentorship to harvest new fruit and engage a community hungry for change. We saw a potent concoction waiting to happen, that may make a lasting impact on the world and create something special that no regular Startup Weekend could inspire.

We are doing this because we realize how hard it can be to simply start and get connected to other changemakers. But more importantly- We, the Startup Weekend DC organizers, come from such said separate and independent ecosystems sparking change. Together we are seizing the opportunity to break barriers to help others get started and connected.

Through the Social Impact Edition, changemakers in Washington DC will finally have an opportunity to come together to learn new ways to solve problems, rapidly test, validate, and execute concepts, and launch companies with a social impact component. They’ll also be able to tap into a vast amount of resources, such as mentors who are Presidential Innovation Fellows and impact investors such as Village Capital. This Startup Weekend can be the catalyst for true innovation to make the world a better place and build excitement to do so.

It’s time for the rise of the impact entrepreneur, and there’s no better place than Washington DC and no better time than now.


The Empowerment of a Community through Social Innovation

When we were approached to organize a Startup Weekend Change Makers in Fortaleza, Brazil, we were determined to make it happen. We had already organized a Startup Weekend, but the purpose of this event was little different. In addition to technology developers, designers and entrepreneurs, we would bring together social entrepreneurs and community leaders. This time in order to connect the potential for solving local problems within the community through social business.

The first decision of the organizing committee was that at least half of the tickets to attend to the event would be free for the community’s youth. As the Startup Weekend has a technological connotation, we contacted some institutions and projects that already had expertise in this area, such as: Palmas Lab, E-Jovem and Rede Cuca. In addition to the donated tickets, we offered discounts for most college participants, interested in developing social business. Additionally, the day prior to the event, Professor Cleudson Santos, sponsored the entry of 6 students, between 11 and 14 years of schools Helenilce Martins and Tais Maria to participate.

During the week before the Startup Weekend Change Makers, we prepared two Bootcamps – events for awareness and engagement of the participants through workshops – using the space of the responsible for the event. The first one was open to the public at FB Ideias and the second for the selected young people at the Instituto Felipe Martins de Melo.


We had a very exciting morning, full of learning, experience sharing and reflection. Together we mapped the problems within the community and taught practical ways to use the business model Canvas. We also empowered talents, created some campaigns and discovered the importance of validating ideas.

This meeting was so appreciated by the young people that they asked us more workshops before the event. We conducted the third Bootcamp at the Instituto Banco Palmas, where we presented the business model Canvas to those who have not attended the previous workshops. We also provided a game for memorizing a glossary with technical and English words used at the Startups environment.

On Friday, March 20, began our first Change Makers session. The feeling was that – in fact – it had already started a few days ago as a result of all the hard work preparing materials and workshops. We felt thankful to the sponsorship and implementation of SEBRAE together with other supporters, the production was flawlessly executed. The tent and the screen built on the street helped to create an atmosphere that something new was coming in Conjunto Palmeiras. The doors were open to everyone who would like to participate.


Early in the event, we heard from Preto Zezé, National President of CUFA (Central Única das Favelas), that we have broken the first barrier of prejudice. The beginning of the event, in of itself, created a Counter-Cultural movement, where the City Center went to the Periphery and not the other way around – as is usually observed.


This weekend in Fortaleza, we saw the beginnings of an important event of cultural change, a break of paradigms and a social development. During 54 hours the community’s youth gave ideas for solving local problems, researched the market, built a business model, created a prototype and presented the final solution to the judges. A weekend of hard work, where we experienced cultural exchanges, realized great achievements, made new and lasting friendships, taught, learned and experienced different realities and … became international!

We contacted the organizers of Startup Weekend Social Innovation at the Impact Hub Berlin and we encouraged them to exchange videos with us. Our idea was to send lots of positive energy to the event participants that were still developing their projects. To my surprise, once again, when we recorded our video nobody wanted to wish “good luck” in Portuguese or English, but in German!

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Despite the 4-hour time difference between Brazil and Germany, they answered us saying that they would send us a quick “hello” due to the approaching time for the final pitching.

We were very happy to see all invited mentors actively participating in the development of each project and seeing first hand that the exchange of experiences is always greater than we can imagine.


This Startup Weekend Change Makers Fortaleza was set up with the intention of enabling the creation of ideas to improve the conditions in Conjunto Palmeiras. However, the participants were the most knowledgeable of community problems and had the most innovative solutions to address them. They only needed to be encouraged and made to feel they could make it happen.

The perception of their strength was made clearer during the weekend and confirmed with the emotions we all felt at every speech made by the winners.

The community developed 11 projects during the weekend and we had 5 professionals to choose the best 4 ideas that could be applied for solving Conjunto Palmeiras problems. The criteria analyzed were: Business Model, Validation, Performance, Design and Social Impact.

Although the competition was part of the Startup Weekend model, the order was not important. Everyone felt – because they all were – winners.

The participants thanked the mentors and organizers for believing in them and for bringing to the periphery an event that meant to benefit the community. They told us their stories and shared a reality that some of us only heard about.


José Erberson Lino, 18, student of Palmas Lab, spoke of the difficulties of being a youth in Conjunto Palmeiras. The challenge of getting around the city center, accessing education, managing hours that he would come home by bus and the feeling of sometimes having no money to be able to go to school or even buy a snack. How, along with a team he had during the weekend, he created a way to solve the problem of locomotion to have access to education. Through the project Vai Dar Certo (It Will Work), the community’s youth that wanted to get in good universities, could have access to classes inside the community with those who were already graduated in college and still were living in the neighborhood.

Another highlight of the weekend was the AvaliSaude (Health Evaluation) business, which aimed to collect the input and reviews of patients using the public health system to map the service problems and use this information to regulate the system. Felipe Araujo, 22, student of Analysis and Systems Development at Estacio, presented this solution and commented that the creator actually was Hector Calixto, 17, student of Palmas Lab, which his mother was an agent of local health and had to daily face problems related to the lack of quality in public health services at the Conjunto Palmeiras.

Anna Victoria, 11, student of the school Helenilce Martins, thrilled everyone while explaining the idea of Traço Kids, which children could make drawings and because of the appreciation of its marketed art, would not get involved with drugs. Her greatest desire was to impact children in the community who did not have the same opportunities as her.


And the first place of our Startup Wekeend Change Makers was O que tem no meu bairro? (What’s in my neighborhood?). For the sake of enhancement of Conjunto Palmeiras and strengthening its own economy, the website developed showed where one could buy what was needed without leaving the neighborhood. The most interesting thing was that only the owner of the idea, Derlyane Lima, 19, E-Jovem student, was a resident of the set, the other members were united to help her solve the situation – and were determined that even if they had not won, they would still continue the project.

After so many testimonies, the roles were reversed. Instead of mentors, we were once again learning from the youth of the community and instead of event organizers, we were a mess. It was mix of emotions impossible to describe.

As you might imagine, such an event does not happen alone! So, for those who like numbers … we had: 75 participants, 12 mentors, 5 judges, 6 event organizers, 6 different nationalities, 20 ideas created, 9 ideas selected, 11 ideas done, 4 winners, 1 honorable mention … in 54 hours!

And every last minute, every approach made, every word spoken, we realized how much a weekend could change someone’s life and motivate youth to improve an entire community.

We realized how assisting with knowledge, showing new tools and giving a lot of love in this construction, multiplies the desire to make a difference.

And sensitizes.

And thrills.

But as important as planting a seed on the periphery, is somehow give continuity to this all: maybe through the development of social projects and business, either with other workshops or meetings bringing together young people and inspiring more and more, so they are not forgotten again!

And there are those who doubt whether it is worth to volunteer.

It is inexplicable that feeling, just look and see the change happening.

If it was enriching for them – imagine for us to have see the changes happening in front of us!


Be the Change, be a Change Maker!

A thousand thanks to everyone involved in this Startup Weekend Change Makers Fortaleza! In particular to Gabriela Aires, Asier Ansorena, Glauber Uchoa, Sol Dúran, Marcos Medeiros, for organizing together this dream – making it come true. The facilitator, Leo Uchoa, and mentors: Eduardo Freire, Evandro Ariki, Gregorio Marin, Julio Cavalcante, Kim Lima, Lucas Hoogerbrugge, Marcos Mendes, Maurílio Alberone, Pietro Occiuzzi, Rodrigo Brito and Tatiana Lourenço, for inspiring young people and assist the implementation of their ideas. The judges: Joaquim Cartaxo, Joaquim de Melo, Leo Lacerda, Preto Zezé and Rodolfo Sikora, for the technical and humanized look to choose the winners and also for allowing 2 groups in the third place, in order to continue the projects. To the realization of this event: SEBRAE, Instituto Banco Palmas, FB Ideias and Instituto Felipe Martins de Melo, for joining forces, believing in the construction of this event. To all the volunteers, who have dedicated their working hours to help us in each action that needed to be done. To the Conjunto Palmeiras, for receiving so warmly during that rich moment. And to all the participants who came enthusiastic about the purpose of bringing new solutions to community problems and becoming Change Makers.

For more information visit the page of the Startup Weekend Change Makers Fortaleza on Facebook or  Up Global! And for the curious, I believe the video below shows some of that fantastic energy we had last weekend!

See you soon!

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Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups! Around 1500 events were realized in more than 700 cities, in more than 100 countries around the world.

Do you want to know more about it? Click here

O Fortalecimento da Comunidade por meio da Inovação Social

Quando surgiu a proposta de se organizar um Startup Weekend Change Makers em Fortaleza, Brasil, decidimos que o faríamos. Já havíamos organizado alguns Startup Weekend, mas a proposta dessa edição era especial. Além de desenvolvedores tecnológicos, designers e empreendedores – ou aspirantes, reuniríamos empreendedores sociais e líderes comunitários. Desta vez com o objetivo de fazer uma conexão entre estes para a solução de problemas da comunidade por meio de negócios sociais.

A primeira decisão do comitê de organização foi que pelo menos metade dos ingressos seriam gratuitos destinados a jovens da comunidade. Pelo Startup Weekend ter uma conotação tecnológica, entramos em contato com algumas instituições e projetos que já possuíam algum ensino nessa área, como: Palmas Lab, E-Jovem e Rede Cuca. Além dos ingressos doados, oferecemos descontos para a maioria dos participantes universitários, interessados em desenvolver negócios sociais. E para finalizar, um dia antes do evento, o Professor Cleudson Santos, patrocinou a entrada de 6 estudantes, entre 11 e 14 anos, das Escolas Helenilce Martins e Tais Maria.

Faltando um semana para o Startup Weekend, preparamos 2 Bootcamps – eventos para sensibilização e engajamento dos participantes por meio de workshops – utilizando o espaço dos realizadores do evento. O primeiro, aberto ao público, no FB Ideias e o segundo, para os jovens selecionados, no Instituto Felipe Martins de Melo.


Tivemos manhãs super divertidas, de bastante aprendizado, trocas de experiências e reflexão. Juntos mapeamos os problemas, ensinamos de maneira prática como funcionava o modelo de negócios Canvas, empoderamos talentos, criamos algumas campanhas e descobrimos a importância de validar as ideias.

Este encontro foi tão apreciado que nos pediram mais workshops antes do evento. Realizamos o 3o Bootcamp no Instituto Banco Palmas, onde apresentamos o Canvas àqueles que não estiveram presentes nos workshops passados. Fizemos também uma dinâmica para memorizar o Glossário com palavras técnicas e em inglês utilizadas no meio das Startups – ideia esta sugerida pelos jovens.

Sexta-feira, 20 de Março, começava nosso primeiro Change Makers. O sentimento era de que – na verdade – ele já havia começado há alguns dias atrás. Graças ao patrocínio e realização do SEBRAE junto aos outros apoiadores, a produção estava impecável. A tenda e o telão montados na rua criavam um clima de que algo novo estava por vir no Conjunto Palmeiras. As portas se encontravam abertas a todos que quisessem participar.


Logo no início, víamos por meio das palavras de Preto Zezé, presidente Nacional da CUFA (Central Única das Favelas), que quebrávamos a primeira barreira do preconceito: o começo do evento, por si só, criava um movimento Contra-Cultural, onde o centro ia até a periferia e não o contrário – como de costume.


Assim acontecia em Fortaleza um importante evento de mudanças culturais, quebra de paradigmas e desenvolvimento social a que o Startup Weekend Change Makers estava a propor. Em 54 horas, de trabalho duro, vivenciamos ricas experiências, trocas culturais, grandes conquistas, fizemos novas e duradouras amizades, ensinamos e aprendemos, contatamos realidade distintas e… internacionalizamos!

Entramos em contato com os organizadores do Startup Weekend Social Innovation em Berlim e sugerimos uma troca de vídeos enviando muita energia positiva aos participantes do evento. Para minha surpresa, mais uma vez, quando fomos executar o nosso vídeo ninguém queria desejar “boa sorte” em português ou inglês, mas em alemão!

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E apesar das 4 horas de diferença, eles nos responderam, comentando do rápido “olá” que nos dariam devido aos pitchings finais estarem se aproximando.

Ficamos muito felizes em ver todos os convidados a mentores participarem ativamente no desenvolvimento de cada projeto e perceberem que a troca de vivencias é sempre maior do que podemos imaginar.


Esse Startup Weekend Change Makers Fortaleza foi montado na intenção de levar conhecimento e possibilitar a criação de ideias para melhorar as condições no Conjunto Palmeiras. Contudo, os participantes eram os maiores conhecedores dos problemas da comunidade e possuíam as mais inovadoras soluções para resolvê-los. Só precisavam ser estimulados e acreditados para isso.

Essa percepção foi constatada durante o processo e confirmada nas emoções que todos sentiam a cada discurso feito pelos vencedores. Vencedores estes que no nosso evento foram 5: 1o , 2o e 2 em 3o lugar, além de uma menção honrosa. E a ordem não fazia diferença, todos se sentiam – e eram – vencedores.

Agradeciam aos mentores e organizadores por acreditarem neles e levarem à periferia um evento em beneficio da comunidade. Contavam suas histórias e a realidade que na maioria das vezes só ouvimos falar – ou nem isso.


José Erberson Lino, 18 anos, aluno do Palmas Lab, falou das dificuldades em ter que se locomover para o centro da cidade para ter uma melhor qualidade de ensino e da hora tardia que chegava em casa de ônibus, das vezes que não teve dinheiro para poder ir a aula ou mesmo comprar um lanche. E agora, junto a uma equipe, criava uma maneira de resolver esse problema por meio do projeto Vai Dar Certo, onde poderiam ter acesso a aulas na própria comunidade com aqueles que já eram universitários e ainda moravam no bairro.

Outro negócio destaque foi o AvaliSaude, que tinha como objetivo coletar as avaliações de pacientes que faziam uso da rede pública de saúde para mapear os problemas no serviço e usar essas informações para regularizar o sistema. Felipe de Araújo, 22 anos, estudante de Análise e Desenvolvimento de Sistemas na Estácio, apresentou esta solução e comentou que o idealizador, na verdade, foi Heitor Calixto, 17 anos, aluno do Palmas Lab, que vê a mãe, agente do posto de saúde local, enfrentando diariamente problemas relacionados a falta de qualidade nos serviços públicos de saúde do Conjunto Palmeiras.

A pequena Ana Vitória, 11 anos, aluna da Escola Helenilce Martins, se fez grande ao emocionar a todos explicando a ideia do Traço Kids, a qual crianças poderiam fazer desenhos e na valorização da sua arte comercializada, não se envolverem com as drogas. Seu maior desejo era impactar as crianças da comunidade que não possuíam as mesmas oportunidades que ela.


E o primeiro lugar, O que tem no meu bairro?, foi inovador e único por sua simplicidade. Em prol da valorização do Conjunto Palmeiras e do fortalecimento de sua própria economia, o aplicativo mostrava onde se poderia comprar o que fosse necessário sem precisar sair do bairro. O mais incrível era que somente a dona da ideia, Derlyane Lima, 19 anos, aluna do E-Jovem, era moradora do Conjunto, os outros integrantes estavam unidos para ajudá-la a solucionar aquela situação – e estavam decididos que mesmo se não tivessem ganho, iriam continuar o projeto.

Depois de tantos depoimentos, os papéis se encontravam invertidos: deixávamos de ser mentores para mais uma vez aprender com eles, deixávamos de ser organizadores e tínhamos nossos sentimentos desorganizados. Um mix de emoções impossível de descrever.

Como é de se imaginar, um evento como esses não se faz sozinho! Então, para os que gostam de números… foram: 75 participantes, 12 mentores, 5 jurados, 6 organizadores, 6 nacionalidades, 20 ideias, 9 selecionadas, 11 executadas, 4 ganhadoras, 1 menção honrosa… em 54 horas!

E a cada minuto passado, a cada aproximação feita, a cada palavra dita, nós percebíamos o quanto um fim de semana pode mudar a vida de alguém e – consequentemente – de toda uma comunidade.

O quanto que auxiliar com conhecimento, novas ferramentas e muito amor nessa construção, multiplica essa vontade de fazer a diferença.

E sensibiliza.

E emociona.

Mas tão importante quanto se plantar uma semente como essas na periferia, é de alguma forma dar uma continuidade a isso: seja com o desenvolvimento dos projetos e negócios sociais, seja com outros workshops ou mesmo encontros reunindo os jovens e os inspirando cada vez mais, para que não sejam esquecidos novamente!

E há quem duvide se vale a pena ser voluntário.

É inexplicável este sentimento, basta olhar, ver as mudanças acontecerem.

Se foi enriquecedor para eles – imagina para a gente!


Be the Change, be a Change Maker!

Meu muitíssimo obrigada a todos os envolvidos nesse Startup Weekend Change Makers Fortaleza! Em especial Gabriela Aires, Asier Ansorena, Glauber Uchoa, Sol Dúran, Marcos Medeiros por estarmos juntos na organização deste sonho. Ao facilitador, Leo Uchoa, e aos mentores: Eduardo Freire, Evandro Ariki, Gregório Marin, Julio Cavalcante, Kim Lima, Lucas Hoogerbrugge, Marcos Mendes, Maurílio Alberone, Pietro Occiuzzi, Rodrigo Brito e Tatiana Lourenço, por inspirarem os jovens e auxiliarem na execução das ideias. Aos jurados: Joaquim Cartaxo, Joaquim de Melo, Leo Lacerda, Preto Zezé e Rodolfo Sikora, pelo olhar técnico e humanizado na escolha dos vencedores e também por permitirem 2 colocados no terceiro lugar, visando a continuidade dos projetos. Aos realizadores locais deste evento: SEBRAE, Instituto Banco Palmas, FB Ideias e Instituto Felipe Martins de Melo, por unir forças, acreditando na construção desse evento. A todos os voluntários que dedicaram suas horas de trabalho para nos ajudar na fluidez das ações. Ao Conjunto Palmeiras por nos ter recebido com tanto carinho nesse rico momento. E a todos os participantes que vieram entusiasmados com o propósito de trazer novas soluções para os problemas da comunidade e se tornarem Agentes de Mudança – Change Makers.

Para mais informações acesse a página do Startup Weekend Change Makers Fortaleza no Facebook ou no site da Up Global ! E para os curiosos,  creio que o video abaixo mostra um pouco dessa energia fantástica presente no nosso evento!

Até breve!

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