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“My goal in 2010 was to get out of the automotive industry, where I’d worked for 9 years.  My job provided income but was uninspiring.  I wanted change but didn’t know how to get started, and then I participated in Startup Weekend.”

Listening to Ty Mathen talk about his nine year career in the automotive industry, it’s easy to imagine countless other people describing their current work situations.  Ty got into the auto industry through a combination of interest and circumstance but stayed because his job allowed him to provide for his family, not because it’s where his passion lay.

Ty knew he wanted a change.  But how could he identify a path that would lead him to something new and inspiring? Two weeks before Startup Weekend Tampa, Ty found out about the event through the Tampa Bay WaVE Organization and decided to attend.  He says, “Startup Weekend seemed like a good way to get noticed in the Tampa tech community and make a name for myself. I was on a mission to change my life.”

With the pressure on, Ty arrived at the venue Friday night ready to take first prize.  “Startup Weekend is a competition and I wanted to win,” he says.  His team, who were working on an application called dropost.it, put their heads down and worked extremely hard all weekend: they had a well-rehearsed presentation, a landing page, and a working demo to share during the final presentation.

Despite all their hard work, dropost.it didn’t win. The judges weren’t convinced by their business plan.  Ty says, “I was hurt when we didn’t win.  Hurt for myself and for my team.”

One week after the event, Ty was still disappointed but had come to a realization, “Startup Weekend was my opportunity to take the momentum of the event and push forward.  I didn’t win but that didn’t mean that I had nothing.”  The dropost.it team had accomplished a lot during the weekend and Ty had developed confidence in his abilities and in his place in his tech community.

As he says now, “Startup Weekend was my way of getting my wife to let me quit my job.  I was disappointed I didn’t win but I realized the power of collaboration and just how much you can get done when you really focus.”  Determined to push forward, Ty worked hard on improving the dropost.it business model and brought a co-founder onboard.

A few months after Startup Weekend, Ty applied to Gazelle Labs in Tampa.  There were some Startup Weekend folks in the crowd and they were impressed by how much work Ty had accomplished in the few short months since Startup Weekend.  Ty was accepted to the program, where he focused on his MVP. By the time Demo Day rolled around, Ty had found a mentor, a partner company, and had raised funding.

Looking back on the first few months of his life as an entrepreneur, Ty credits meeting the right people and building strong relationships as the building blocks of success, “I put everything I had into my Startup Weekend experience.  I worked hard to meet the right people and to build their trust in me.”

After almost a decade in the automotive industry, Ty was able to change his life in just one year.  Despite the challenges and the sacrifice, after a year of dedicated hard work he had a steady job again – the difference being that it was one he loved.

About Ty Mathen

Ty is a mover and shaker extraordinaire who’s passionate about anything Tech, Always up for the challenge and never backs down. Constantly looking for solutions and ways of solving problems. Proud husband and father of two.  And truly grateful for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon him. Follow him on Twitter @tymathen. www.tampabaywave.org