620 S. Third St: the Startup Weekend venue

Startup Weekend returns to Louisville this weekend, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Fri. Mar. 1 and finishing up somewhere around 9:00 p.m. Sun., Mar. 3.

Startup Weekend, which first launched in Louisville last September thanks to help from Awesome Inc. in Lexington and Forge here in Louisville, is a team competition that takes a business idea from rough pitch to minimum viable concept in just 54 hours. This second Startup Weekend will be held at the JCTC Small Business and Entrepreurship Center at 620 S. Third St. Suite 200 (that’s next to the Henry Clay Building).

Last fall, I was lucky to have been on the team that won the inaugural Louisville Startup Weekend. This year I’m helping organize the event (although, you never know, I might just jump on a team last minute).

If you’re planning on going to Startup Weekend or if you’ve been thinking about going, I thought I’d offer some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions the organizers have received.

Do I have to have a business idea to participate?

Absolutely not. I didn’t. I listened to the 16 pitch presentations and decided I wanted to ally myself with one of two teams. (My story is unusual. I chose one team and then was poached by another … all’s fair in love and war and startups). Out of the 16 pitches only eight made it to team formation. Out of those eight, only five survived to the end. So chances are, even if you do pitch an idea, you might not see that idea all the way through.

What does an initial pitch sound like?

The initial pitches are only 60 seconds in length and are very casual.  An initial pitch may go something like this:

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could use your iPhone as a camp stove? My app,  iBurner, will allow you to boil eggs with your iPhone in just under an hour. I need a designer, two developers, an electrical engineer and a chef. I’m an outdoor enthusiast and a marketer. Together we can develop iBurner and have it in Bass Pro Shops by summer camping season.

No PowerPoints. No visuals. Maybe a little rehearsal, but people are looking to ally themselves with businesses and people they can believe in for 54 hours. Slick sales folks don’t necessarily go over well.

Does my idea have to be a tech business? 

Startup Weekend businesses usually are. But not always. In the fall, one of the businesses that made it to the end was a mobile farmers’ market food truck.

What do I need to bring?

Just you, your laptop or other tech and your big, beautiful brain. We’ll supply basic office supplies. You may want to bring some of your own snacks, if you want, but we’ll feed you.

Will you really feed me?

We’ve hooked our attendees up with amazing meals– seven meals, in fact, all included in the price of your ticket. Our generous food sponsors are: J. Gumbo, Heine Brothers, Rooibee Red Tea and Skyline Chili. We’ll also have additional meals provided by Louisville Grind Burger Truck and Farm to Fork Catering.

Insider Louisville will be providing the snacks.

I’m a vegetarian/I observe Lent on Friday– will you still feed me?

We’ll always have an option to meet those dietary needs. Let us know if you have any dietary restrictions.

I don’t know anyone. Will I feel out of place?

I didn’t know a soul in the Louisville Startup community when I attended Startup Weekend back in September. Now my beat at Insider Louisville is “startups.” And that’s at least in part because I laid such great groundwork during Startup Weekend.

Want to know more? 

Dan Vonderheide of the STARTUP podcast interviewed me about Startup Weekend today and featured me on Episode #48. He asked me to walk through the event. Dan will be joining us to compete at Startup Weekend. Take a listen.

Are you tech savvy? Want to save some money?

We’re offering 50 percent off for designers and developers. Use Promo Code spring13designer or spring13developer.

We’re super pleased that our ratio of men to women at this event is looking pretty good. That being said, to further encourage our techie women to participate, I’ve been authorized to issue a special discount for women who are designers or developers. Email me at [email protected] to get this special promo code.

Look forward to seeing many new friends and old. And if you’re participating: may the odds ever be in your favor!

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