Originally published in Las Vegas Citylife on May 2, 2013
When I say the word entrepreneur, or any variation thereof, take a drink.
This Friday, dozens of developers and entrepreneurs will be making their way to the InNEVation Center for a three day startup jam with one goal in mind: to leave on Sunday with a viable business.
Founded by Andrew Hyde in the summer of 2007, Startup Weekend has since expanded from a single Boulder, Colorado event to a worldwide entrepreneurial powerhouse, with hundreds of cities hosting and over a thousand projects started as a result.
The inaugural Las Vegas event was held at the El Cortez in 2011, and three others have since followed. This weekend will be the city’s fifth (we’re doing math, ya’ll), and even at this early stage, Startup Weekend Las Vegas has already had several successes under its belt.
“There are a few companies that have come out of Startup Weekend that have survived to become local startups, including ClippPR, the winner of the first Startup Weekend, and LaunchKey, winner of Startup Weekend 3,” said Adam Kramer, SWLV organizer and Director of Entrepreneurship and Vegas Young Professionals at the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. “Both of these companies are on the cutting edge of their respective industry and are making quite a splash.”
Launchkey is particularly notable, growing from a Startup Weekend concept to being the recipient of $750,000 in funding within months. Other Startup Weekend Las Vegas entrants that went on to become actualized companies include Phone2Action, Rumgr, Counterless, and Coupla.
With that said, don’t think that simply by placing at Startup Weekend you’ll find yourself sewing suits out of hundred dollar bills – in just two short years, the majority of SWLV winners have already shuttered, Twitter accounts and domain names dormant and discarded.
Entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial. Entrepreneurialism.
So with that said, how does Startup Weekend work?
Friday, Day 1
It starts with a pitch. After introductions and a short speaker session, badge holders with a concept are given a minute and a microphone. No powerpoints, no props, just sixty seconds and an idea.
Next comes the voting. Once everyone’s had their say, all attendees vote for their favorite pitches, and from those results, a handful (based on total attendance) are then selected as the primary concepts to be worked on over the weekend. Teams are formed organically as folks gravitate towards projects that interest them, and work begins.
Saturday, Day 2
Work continues, with the occasional break to eat or listen to a short talk. Coaches (including successful entrepreneurs and instructors from the local scene) wander about throughout the day, giving advice and helping teams sort through and overcome problems. Everyone works some more. The conference officially closes for the night at 10:00 PM, but most will end up hammering away at their keyboards well beyond that.
Sunday, Day 3
Work continues. This is the day where tired attendees panic upon realizing that they’ve only got a few hours remaining before their projects will be on display.
Halfway through the day, focus shifts as teams scramble to tie up loose ends, finalize their prototypes, and prepare demos. The judges arrive and presentations begin, with each team given five minutes to show off their product, followed by a brief question and answer session with the jury.
The jury then selects the winners, awards are given out – past prizes have included cash, a booth at CES, business services, and office space – and then everyone goes on to celebrate and/or catch up on sleep.
There’s still time to sign up!
Feeling that entrepreneurial itch? While this is a bit of a short notice if you’re just hearing about it now (look, this here is a biweekly column, see?), registration for Startup Weekend Las Vegas will remain open until the start of the event, so you’ll still got a day to clear your calendar and register. The entrance fee for developers, designers, and non-technical folk looking to take part is $99. If you’re the voyeuristic sort, Observation passes are available for a mere $15.
Startup Weekend begins at 5:30 PM Friday (May 3) and runs until 7:00 PM Sunday (May 5).
Startup Weekend Las Vegas
6795 Edmond St