Have a tech-minded idea? Startup Weekend wants you

2013-08-31T12:15:00Z 2013-09-03T08:29:03Z Have a tech-minded idea? Startup Weekend wants youRob Earnshaw Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 31, 2013 12:15 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | Fourteen-year-old Emerson Walker, of Cincinnati, has advice for those planning to successfully engage in the inaugural Startup Weekend Valparaiso in October.

Be organized. Make sure your pitch isn’t too wordy without getting its point across.

Walker would know. In 2013 he was the winner of Startup Weekend Cincinnati.

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures.

The nonprofit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Wash., but Startup Weekend organizers can be found in over 200 cities around the world.

Startup Weekend Valparaiso will welcome those looking to pitch ideas, form teams, attend workshops and start companies Oct. 11-13 at Valparaiso University’s Urschel Hall.

The local Startup is being organized by Kelly Schwedland, of Elevate Ventures; Nat Finn, of BakedFinn; and Ursula Saqui, of Saqui Research.

The trio welcomed Walker at an event at Figure Eight Brewing on Aug. 15. Walker spoke about his Startup Cincinnati experience and how it led to the launch of his new company, mPlanner, a digital school daily app.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch a startup idea and receive feedback from their 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 ends with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

“Startup Weekend in my mind is the piece of the puzzle of the startup ecosystem that’s necessary in Northwest Indiana,” Schwedland said. “The idea is to get people thinking about startups and the best practices for startups. People can come and bring their ideas and partner and find teams. They can test the idea and whether or not the team is going to be good. It’s kind of a low commitment way of building a team.”

Schwedland said a key part of the weekend is the mentoring. Organizers are bringing in designers, developers and experts in intellectual property law, business law and accounting.

“It’s an opportunity to connect with folks who are experienced in the field already,” he said.

In Cincinnati, Walker won office space and free legal services. He then successfully funded mPlanner in a Kickstarter.com campaign.

“Have fun,” said Walker as advice to Startup Weekend Valparaiso participants. “Just being part of a team was fun for me. It was a good experience.”

For more information on the event visit http://valparaiso.startupweekend.org.

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