What I learned at DFW Startup Weekend
July 8, 2011 | By Vela Wood
This post is a few weeks late, but I still wanted to pass along a few thoughts on DFW Startup Weekend.
A few weekends ago, over June 17th to 19th, Vela Wood had the pleasure of sponsoring DFW Startup Weekend. StartupWeekend.org is a non-profit initiative powered by the Kaufman Foundation which provides a structure for 54 hour idea creation labs held all over the country. See when they are coming to your city here. Basically, professionals with varying skill-sets but the same entrepreneurial fabric meet up on a Friday night, loosen up over beers and pizza, and then share their ideas in rapid fire 1 min pitches to everyone in the room (it’s usually $75 to $100 to attend and you need to register ahead of time). Once all of the ideas are pitched, the audience votes on the top 10. The masterminds behind the top 10 get little time to celebrate, as they quickly transition into recruiting mode and look to fill out the team they need to build their idea that weekend. Shouts of “who wants to launch a product this weekend?” and “we will make money on Sunday” seemed to garner the best response.
Anyway, I was around for a few hours on Fri, Saturday and Sunday, and really enjoyed meeting the participants, observing the companies in action, and hearing the final pitches. A few things that I learned:
1) The only thing preventing most people from starting a company is taking the first step to do so. Kudos to all of the first time participants and entrepreneurs who crossed company #1 off of their list. It’s amazing what a small group of dedicated individuals can accomplish in a weekend. Startup Weekend provides an incredible positive environment where ideas can be incubated and hatched in a few days.
2) Entrepreneurs abound in Dallas, and their ideas are really, really good. I was thoroughly impressed with the pitches that I saw, and there were two or three that did not get picked into the top 10, but I’m hoping that their founders move forward anyway. Also, the talent in the room was remarkable. There were participants aged 15-55, representing just about every professional discipline you can imagine. I saw MBAs who had senior level positions at Fortune 500 companies, JDs, successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. And these guys were mixing with the dev and design experts (including some whiz kid high-schoolers who may have been the best Ruby on Rails guys in the room).
3) Tech Wildcatters has the perfect space to host Startup Weekend. There was ample room for the large group presentations, and then plenty of offices and nooks for teams to work on their companies. The old church is poised to become Silicon Rectory.
4) There is no shortage of mentors and people willing to help drive the Dallas startup scene. It was awesome to see all of the other sponsors, successful entrepreneurs and people within the startup community participate. I’m pretty sure that if you asked them, they did not see this as an obligation, but rather a fantastic opportunity.
And finally, props to winner Queued.At for driving revenues by Sunday…even if it was the founder signing up as the first paying member.