TechLounge: Central Ohio Technology | Entrepreneurs | Innovation
The fifth Startup Weekend Columbus was held last weekend; and although the event spawned a record number of new companies, one of the most intriguing outcomes of the weekend was the power generated as a result of the collaboration among technologists, artists and strategists.
“These were some of the most creative and visually impactful final presentations I’ve ever seen coming out of a Startup Weekend,” commented Rick Coplin, director with TechColumbus.
For the first time the event was held on the campus of the Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) and attended by a number of the school’s undergraduate and master’s level art students. This added a new dimension to the weekend, which has traditionally been attended primarily by technology and business professionals exclusively.
The stage was set for a creative weekend with the kickoff reception Friday night highlighting three of CCAD’s featured artists whose works were on display in the lobby of the Loann Crane building, where Startup Weekend Columbus was held. The three artists, Chris Harman, Liandra Holmes and Dion Nutt, presented before the more than 100 attendees, highlighting their approach to creativity and bridging the gap between creative and business processes.
The purpose of Startup Weekend is for professionals of diverse skill sets to come together, form teams and launch a business plan all within an intense 54-hour window from Friday evening through Sunday.
Demonstrating the continuing and growing popularity of the Startup Weekend movement, attendees traveled to Central Ohio from Pennsylvania, Washington DC and other parts of the state to participate in Startup Weekend
The weekend started with teams forming around 20 business concepts. Over the course of the three
days, these teams broke apart, came back together again and re-invented themselves with the final outcome being 16 teams presenting business concepts on Sunday evening.
“We saw first-hand the power of the pivot and of flexible persistence,” said Brian Zeurcher, co-founder of Central Ohio startup FlyMuch, and one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Columbus. “As new information becomes available about customers and what they want, companies have to be nimble and ready to change. The evolution of teams this weekend solidly demonstrated that entrepreneurs in Central Ohio are capable of successfully embracing this concept.”
Ten art students from CCAD shared their time and talents across all 16 teams and both the “creatives” and the “techies” gained a new mutual respect for what each skill set could bring to the launch of a successful startup.
“The contribution these art students made in helping teams tell compelling stories about their business concepts was phenomenal,” said Coplin. “You could really sense the energy that came from this creative synergy.”
As for the art students, many of whom have no business experience, this was an intense immersion in company formation, market research and the many other considerations that drive entrepreneurship. “This weekend was not just another class exercise for our students,” commented Cynthia Gravino, CCAD director of career services. “This is real-world experience that they can take with them as they launch their careers.”
“Through Startup Weekend our students got an accelerated and intense sense of any number of considerations that impact business decisions and in turn impact design. They got to see how design contributes to business and how business influences design and how together, a company becomes more successful and their stories more impactful.”
By audience vote on Sunday evening, three teams were chosen from the 16 presenting teams as the best concepts. These were:
SourceMatch – a microlending management company.
DemandZilla – a site for expressing local demand for products, services, TV shows, etc.
UserTOS – a method of providing Unified Terms of Service businesses and users can agree upon and extend
One company, MaxiMin, a unique user interface for understanding World Bank and UN socioeconomic data, was voted the Startup Most Likely to Change the World.
“What I’ve generally observed is that Startup Weekends stir up entrepreneurial interest and that the people that have come to the weekend usually end up integrating into multiple companies over time,” commented Coplin.
“The really great thing about Startup Weekend in Columbus is that we held one in January of this year and now in October - and there’s still demand for more,” observed Coplin. “I think we can realistically plan on having, at a minimum, two Startup Weekends in Columbus a year. That’s a testament to the diversity and the strength of Central Ohio’s entrepreneurial community.”
All startups emerging from the weekend were invited and encouraged to apply for the 1492 business accelerator, whose deadline (October 12) coincided with the completion of Startup Weekend Columbus.
For more information, visit: http://columbus.startupweekend.org/