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Beyond the Pitch

Startup Weekend Maker Edition Makes Its Mark

Startup Weekend

Image provided by Zach Sanderson.

This past weekend, more than 100 makers gathered from around the Midwest (from DC, Detroit, Philly, Cincy, Cleveland, Dayton, Chicago, and of course Columbus) for a special maker edition of Startup Weekend. The goal for this event was to build a bridge between the maker community and the tech entrepreneur community – a connection too often over looked.

This was the first year we hosted a Startup Weekend at the Idea Foundry. This space is a phenomenal resource for budding entrepreneurs to join a community of like-minded tinkerers, fixers, and do-ers. The workshop in the lower level provided all the resources our makers needed for prototyping, including laser cutting, engraving, and 3D printing. The office and community space upstairs provided the perfect backdrop for a weekend of ideation and creativity.

The Format

The process began on Friday night with participants pitching a wide variety of raw ideas. Given this was a maker edition, all ideas had to have a hardware component and beginning Saturday morning, teams split off to start soft prototyping. Soft prototyping starts out as clay, foam core or cardboard productions. Teams utilized feedback from over a dozen volunteer mentors/makers on how to best pursue or design their idea for production. For example, the Lx group – makers of safety goggles with LED lamp – went through twelve different lens and goggle designs before discovering a winner.

Picking Winners

There were three judging criteria for the teams: business model, technical execution (which included a hardware element), and customer validation.

Teams were expected to validate their ideas and designs by surveying potential customers. Some used a Facebook live feed run by the Idea Foundry; others went to a nearby 21 Pilots concert to survey potential users who were waiting in line to enter the concert venue. One team even marketed their product through a social media influencer. Most teams used their own social media networks to send out surveys. The three winning teams did a great job building a product that customers validated, was well designed, and could ultimately scale.

Here are the teams that rose above to win:

  • 1st place: Keyask: Conference room management system
  • 2nd place: Versagrow: Modular indoor garden
  • 3rd place: Lx: Led headlamp + safety goggles

You make Startup Weekend happen

You guys & gals did a great job! I was totally blown away by all the teams and this event exceeded my expectations of what I thought was possible. It’s great to seethe Startup Weekend and the broader support community embrace the diverse future of entrepreneurship in Columbus.

Even though participants just worked for 54 hours straight, people left the weekend feeling reenergized and inspired. Many participants in Startup Weekend aren’t entrepreneurs but are contemplating taking the plunge. After this weekend, someone in that crowd is finally going to feel safe enough to make the leap to purse their dreams – that’s why I help organize this event year after year.

The hardest part is the first step and there’s a whole community here ready to help you make it!

To keep up-to-date with upcoming Startup Weekend events, check out their Facebook page.

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