Startup Weekend #6 | Photo by David Najewicz
Startup Weekend No. 6 | Photo by David Najewicz

By Kelby Price
Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation
Startup Weekend Organizing Team member

I’m curious about the interaction between established companies and grassroots efforts toward entrepreneurship and innovation, so I asked asked Mad*Pow’s David Thomas and Chris Davis a few questions about their recent involvement with Startup Weekend at FirstBuild. Here’s what they had to say:

What did you learn during Startup Weekend?

David Thomas: The gap between product concept and product creation isn’t nearly as wide as I thought, particularly when you collaborate with a friendly and creative group of thinkers and doers; like I saw at Startup Weekend.

Chris Davis: Ideas are a dime a dozen; real tenacity is shown in the process of producing your ideas. Startup Weekend is a low-risk way for the entrepreneurially curious to learn the crucial difference between idea and creation, and award themselves the satisfaction of building something amazing. It’s a life-altering feeling.

What was the most exciting or unexpected thing that came out of Startup Weekend?

DT: FirstBuild and Startup Weekend are the perfect examples of how Louisville not only has the talent but the support and interest of the community to launch a new generation of businesses.

CD: This is the fifth Startup Weekend I’ve visited in Louisville, and it may have been the largest. Entrepreneurial veterans worked side-by-side with new recruits to build hardware and software startups in one of the coolest spaces in town. Every year, I’m blown away by the local startup community, and this year was no different. I even saw high school students working alongside retired engineers!

What made you decide to sponsor the event?

DT: Mad*Pow believes in supporting the creative and entrepreneurial communities in the cities where our offices are located. In the three years since we’ve had a presence in Louisville, we continue to be amazed at the energy and spirit of the city, and the innovation that’s happening on a regular basis. We feel Louisville is in a strong position to be a leader for innovative, creative businesses, and Mad*Pow is proud to be part of that growth and is committed to continuing our support of the Louisville creative and business community.

How can established companies support entrepreneurship and innovation in Louisville?

DT: I’d flip that around and ask, “How can entrepreneurship and innovation in Louisville support our established companies?” I believe Louisville’s top-tier companies and their internal cultures have the most to benefit.

CD: I’d echo David’s response. It is a collaborative effort. Louisville is full of thoughtful and creative individuals who have championed their personal business dreams. We’re home to Yum!, UPS, disco balls and a lot more. The opportunity for education and mentorship exists but must be driven, in part, by the people who have already led the way.

We’ve had a couple large companies in Louisville open their doors recently, invite entrepreneurs in and share their problems and challenges … what do you think of that?

DT: FirstBuild is the Museum Plaza of Louisville’s innovation prowess; except FirstBuild was actually built.

CD: Let’s keep challenging! FirstBuild’s proven an incredible concept, was born of open conversations between the city, GE Appliances, entrepreneurs, LVL1, GLI and U of L, and the community has rallied behind it. It only goes to show that (our community) is open and excited for these new forms of interaction with major businesses.

What other important events in Louisville focusing on design, innovation and technology do you plan to attend this year?

CD: There are some incredible creative initiatives happening this year. This summer, Louisville’s AIGA chapter will launch its first annual Design Week, devoting five full days to design in Louisville, with parties, speaking events, open offices and much more. We’re also looking forward to IdeaFestival 2015, and attending our Creative Mornings chapter’s monthly events. It’s so exciting to see the burst of creativity in this city!