Starting a company is filled with enough highs and lows, twists and turns to make most people’s heads spin. Even more so when these business-building growing pains take place over just 54 hours. Yet in over 220 cities across the world, Startup Weekend takes people through those first steps of entrepreneurship, helping to launch successful teams and companies (and have fun doing it) over just a weekend.
Startup Weekends kicked off on November 18 in two Ohio cities: Startup Weekend Cincinnati and Startup Weekend: Health Edition in Columbus. Combined, the events drew more than 180 participants including 3 high-schoolers, an NFL-player-turned-lawyer, several doctors, and more than a few newcomers seeking the excitement of entrepreneurship. Although the events had different focuses, the Startup Weekend process is uniform and down to a science:
Friday: all participants are invited and encouraged (but not forced) to pitch their business ideas to the crowd. Then, the group chooses the top 12-15 ideas and self-selects into teams around them.
Saturday: From sunup to sundown (really: the day starts at 9AM and ends at 11PM), teams begin to build out products and validate their ideas with a target audience. It’s a day full of triumphs and wakeup calls as companies find out what their customers really care about—and what they don’t.
Sunday: Teams continue working on their ideas (sometimes pivoting to a new idea altogether) and put the final touches on their prototypes, demos, and presentations. Finally, they pitch to a panel of industry-leading local judges.
This weekend, seven new companies walked away with a prize. In Cincinnati, first place went to Risr, a marketplace that connects collegiate athletes with high school athletes. In Columbus, the top prize was awarded to HandOff, a HIPAA-compliant messaging platform for doctors and nurses. In just 54 hours, a total of 30 new companies were formed at Ohio Startup Weekend events. Some of these concepts will continue, some will fizzle out, but one of them could be the Next Big Thing that comes from Ohio.
The next time Startup Weekend comes to Ohio—and there are 7 Startup Weekend cities across the state, so it shouldn’t be too long—consider taking the plunge as a participant, judge, mentor or sponsor. You might be surprised at what can be accomplished in just a weekend.