Main Street Here We Come!

Caffeinate your weekend with KCSW!
Caffeinate your weekend with KCSW!

Have you heard???  The 12th Edition of Kansas City Startup Weekend is coming May 29th!  Come join our caffeinated weekend and kick off #1WKC in style at ThinkBig Partner’s beautiful new building at 1712 Main Street.

There’s so much going on in Kansas City and Main Street itself that we just couldn’t settle on one single theme this go ‘round, so that means… ANYTHING startup goes!  To get some ideas flowing here are a few that we sticky-noted: #smartcity, #quantifiedself, #agtech, #hardware, #nonprofits, #gamification – that’s right, anything goes! So, if you are itching to pull out that idea you tucked away over the winter, need to find a co-founder, or just want to connect with the KC Startup scene, we are looking for YOU! Check us out on FB, on Twitter @KCSW, and online at to find out more about upcoming events.

Would you like to take Startup Weekend for a “test drive” first?  No problem! We have bootcamps set up to tackle key topics like “What is Startup Weekend Anyway?”, “MVP & You!”, and soon to be a new favorite “Pitch Karaoke”! These are great opportunities to grab a friend and meet the locals.

Hope to see you soon!


-The KC Crew

Is Startup Weekend for me?


Guest post by Andy Stoll: After hearing the question ‘Is Startup Weekend for me?’ over and over, he wanted to share his perspective. Andy is a serial social entrepreneur and co-founder of Seed Here Studio, Vault Coworking and Collaboration Space and The Iowa Startup Accelerator. He is also a global facilitator for Startup Weeeknd.

I encourage a lot of people to attend Startup Weekend, especially those who are curious about entrepreneurship and startups. One of the most common reasons people tell me why they CAN NOT attend Startup Weekend comes in a few variations, but is essentially getting at the same thing. Their doubts usually manifest themselves in reasons such as, “Well, I’m not an entrepreneur or a business person,” or “I don’t know how to code, design or build websites,” or “I don’t really have any ideas to pitch.” 

The real concerns that they are often getting at are: 1) I am a novice, is it still really for me? 2) If I go and don’t know anything (or anybody), will everyone know that (and call me out as a fraud!)?

A big secret that entrepreneurs don’t often tell you is that every single entrepreneur, business owner and startup founder has, at some point, felt that they were not qualified, not prepared, and not ready to do what they wanted to do (and worried they’d be called out at any time as a “fraud”).

This struggle defines the journey of every entrepreneur: overcoming anxiety, charting a course through haunting feelings of uncertainty, persevering in the face of self-doubt. You can’t learn these skills from a book or a class, you can only learn them by facing the fears.

All entrepreneurs eventually learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable (at least most of the time), and for those that do, the rewards are immense: growth, fulfillment, self-actualization, the satisfaction that comes from building a team and the joy of turning something in your head into a real thing…

The journey is long, but it is, in the end, the reward.

Startup Weekend is designed to be a first step on that journey, the first chance to dip your toe in to the water of entrepreneurship and making your ideas happen. It is designed for EVERYONE to attend. I’ve seen people as young as 11 participate and as old as 84. I’ve seen grill cooks, accountants, corporate CEO’s, skateboarders, veterans, moms, retired school teachers, kids and ministers participate. Maybe you don’t code, design, or “have ideas” (though secretly everyone has ideas), that’s ok because there will be others there that do. Everyone has a skill that they will contribute to a team, whether its writing, leading, interviewing, cheerleading, pats on the back, drawing, researching or a plethora of other things needed for each team to succeed—everyone and anyone has something to contribute to a Startup Weekend team (and often times at Startup Weekend you’ll discover skills you never realized you had!).

Startup Weekend is designed to simulate the entrepreneurial journey in an incredibly condensed 54-hour period. It is, in my view, the single best way to try entrepreneurship with essentially no risk, to go down the path and see what it feels like. Feels is the operative word.

If you have doubts about attending, you’re nervous and worried that you are “not ready,” maybe you have butterflies in your stomach. That’s the first sign you are on the right path.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Hope to see you at Startup Weekend!

Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at!


All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned at the UP America Summit 2013

This post was written by Nirav Amin.

Honolulu, Bozeman, Little Rock, and Iowa City/Cedar Rapids.  Which one doesn’t belong? Keep reading to find out the answer.

I hail from Chicago.  Big Midwest city with the thick pizza and the river that gets dyed green.  Beyond that, Chicago serves as an ecosystem in which entrepreneurs can thrive and offers a plethora of information through advisors, events, venues and so much more.  Access to that information and resources is not always the easiest though.  You end up playing the role of a small fish in a big pond, which can go to show that larger ecosystems have their disadvantages.

It wasn’t until 2 weeks ago, when I attended the UP America Summit in Iowa City/Cedar Rapids (ICR), that I learned the impact that smaller communities and ecosystems play in fostering entrepreneurship.  I walked in to the summit asking the question, “Why would anyone ever host an entrepreneurship summit in Iowa?”  Over the next three days, I had a chance to meet some of the most amazing people and learn about the impact that they are making in their own community, through entrepreneurship.  In the process my question was answered.


Andy Stoll spent 4 years traveling the world, living and working in 40 countries before coming back to ICR, and starting Iowa’s Creative Corridor movement along with Amanda Styron.  They’ve not only succeeded in building a co-working space and encouraging the community to innovate and inspire, but also created community building in a region that was ravaged by the 4th largest natural disaster in US history, only 5 years ago.

Troy Miller is the owner of Naomi’s Kitchen, where they build innovative food concepts.  He also is the founder of Koala Pay.  Troy and I met right after I landed in ICR and we found a similar interest in educating our youth in technology.  He told me a story of how his 12 year old son, Issac, wanted to code and tried learning online.  Ultimately Issac wanted to learn more than just a video lecture and Troy set him up with a coding instructor.  He not only learned how to code, but built his own version of Pong that is motion controlled.   Inspired by Issac’s story  and using my own experience of immersive learning, Troy and I are talking about starting a small program for kids where they can get together and work on tech projects in Iowa.

Issac. Sorry about the red eye!

Carl Blake owns Rustik Rooster Farms, and was kind enough to supply the dinner for our last night in ICR.  Carl breeds award winning pigs and innovated a champion German pig by breeding a Chinese pig and a Russian pig.  He’s been featured on The Colbert Report as well.  As Carl talked to us about what he does, and how he created his concept of a champion pig, I realized that he too is a leader in entrepreneurship.   He identified a problem with the way US pigs were raised, and created his own solution, causing an impact in the pig farming industry.

The exposure didn’t just stop in Iowa.  Lee Watson is championing entrepreneurship in Little Rock, AR.  Avani Parekh is pushing for diversity in entrepreneurship in North Carolina.   Rob Irizarry and Nate Stephens are leading the charge in Bozeman, MT.  Bryan Butteling, Omar Sultan, and Rechung Fujihira are putting Hawaii on the map for more than just tourism.  And the list goes on and on.  I came out of this summit realizing that just like the big cities, smaller communities are making large strides and creating an impact in the growth of entrepreneurship.  Organizations like UP Global are working hard to create entrepreneurship opportunities in cities all around the world through Startup Weekend, Startup America, Startup Digest, and Next.  Events such as the UP America Summit do an amazing job at connecting these cities, large and small, enabling them to learn from one another.  After 3 days, I did get an answer to my question.  However I also was left with a feeling of wanting more.  Why couldn’t I connect to more people like this on a regular basis?  What could be done to make that possible for all the people who couldn’t attend the summit?

So comes the answer to my initial question to you.  Which city doesn’t belong?  The answer is none of the above.  They all belong.  They all have a place.  They all create impact.  And with this answer comes a call to action.  I personally found a project that is near and dear to my heart and have begun working on it.  Startup Sister is a new idea that was innovated through my many conversations at the UP America Summit.  The idea is to create a startup sister city program that allows leaders, members, and companies of joint communities to connect on a more regular basis.  We need to have a program that allows communities to act as resources for one another so that innovation and creativity continue to grow.  They can teach one another, learn from one another, and introduce concepts that may not otherwise have come to fruition.

Having a summit in Iowa taught me more than I could imagine.  From meeting all the new and amazing people I did to learning about what they do, I truly left with new goals in mind.  I look forward to the next summit when everyone comes back to talk about what they have done since Iowa.