Startup Weekend 8 participants and organizers | Photo by Melissa Chipman

Louisville held its first Startup Weekend in 2012 with around 40 attendees. Since then, organizers have put together Startup Weekends twice a year. On April 7-9, the 10th Startup Weekend will be held at LouieLab, the city’s new public-private collaborative co-working space on Main Street, and the Kentucky Science Center. The most recent events have topped 80 attendees.

Startup Weekend begins on Friday, April 7. Participants from all aspects of business, tech, creative, sales, marketing and education (a high school junior won a few sessions back!) gather to have a meal, socialize and network. There is often a fairly well-known local guest speaker. And then the games begin.

Anyone who wants to can give a one-minute pitch for a proposed startup that they wish to create over the next two days. Participants then vote for the 10-12 favorite businesses and then self-select into teams to help those businesses come together.

Participants work all weekend. Organizers make sure that they are well fed with meals and snacks (which are included in the ticket price), typically with local fare. Mentors and coaches from the startup, investment and business communities come into work with teams and give advice.

Then, on Sunday evening, the public is invited to the Shark Tank-style pitch competition which will be judged by local startup and business “celebrities.” Winners get prizes from local businesses.

Many cities don’t make it to a 10th startup weekend. They are put together by local volunteer organizers from the startup community. Several Louisville organizers have been involved since Day 1.

Early-bird tickets start at $39; after March 17, prices jump to starting at $69.

Disclosure: The author frequently volunteers for or participates in Startup Weekend.

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