Tempe entrepreneurs got an opportunity to collaborate with designers, developers, marketing specialists and other business people this weekend at AREA48, a formation space for local entrepreneurs of all skill sets and backgrounds to work with like-minded people, for Tempe Startup Weekend.
The ASU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group and Startup Weekend organized the event, a global program meant to provide entrepreneurs with 54 hours of networking, team building and solution creating.
Meagan Garrett, marketing and communications manager for ASU’s innovation center SkySong, organized the event to encourage entrepreneurship in Tempe and at ASU.
“There’s a ton going on in entrepreneurship at ASU, and so many people don’t understand that there is so much, and it is so nontraditional,” she said. “Anyone in the University who wants to be an entrepreneur can be one.”
Startup Weekend is one entrepreneurial program the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group works to make available for students and the community.
Garrett said people who attend the event are from a variety of backgrounds, not just young entrepreneurs.
“(We have) a really diverse group of people,” she said. “Put them in a room together, start team building, spouting out ideas and getting them to think about solutions to problems.”
Llyoed Lobo, the global facilitator for Startup Weekend, travels to Startup Weekend events across the globe to run activities and engage with attendees. This is the first time he has visted Tempe.
“From what I’m hearing, I love what the University is doing to support the start-up community, fund them (and) accelerate them,” he said.
The event is fast-paced, and attendees go with the intention of working non-stop all weekend to create a start-up in less than three days. Participants have just 60 seconds to pitch their ideas. Once the ideas are pitched, the other participants choose the ideas they would like to work on and form groups. The projects aren’t expected to be expansive, just a solution to a problem.
“Basically, what is the minimum feature-set that you could put in somebody’s hands and they can start getting value immediately,” Lobo said.
Prize packages including legal services, design services and software subscriptions are given away on the final day of the event to the group with the best three-minute pitch, Garrett said.
More than 80 people signed up for the event. Most were from the area, but some flew in from places like Salt Lake City. About 25 people lined up Friday night to pitch their ideas. The pitches were all over the board, ranging from an app to identify the correct key of harmonica to use to play a song to a company that would educate small business owners on how to successfully manage their web presence.
Marketing junior Navi Singh attended the event with an idea in mind.
“It would be like a kayak.com for cars,” he said. “There are very few websites that exist like that.”
Singh’s expertise is in marketing, so he said that by attending the event he could meet developers and designers to help create the idea into a viable product.
The team of developers, marketers and designers are what Lobo calls the Hacker, Hustler, Hipster model. The hacker is the developer with the technical knowledge, the hustler is the marketer who will generate excitement for the product and knows how to talk to people and the hipster is the designer.
Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela opened the event with remarks about the importance of entrepreneurship in the economic development of the valley.
“When people think of start-ups, I want them to think of here,” he said. “We are creating an ecosystem to help drive entrepreneurial spirit.”
Startup Weekend is just one project of many that SkySong and ASU are working on to develop the start-up culture in Phoenix and attract more corporations to the area, Garrett said.
“The more that we can work together to create a lively, vibrant entrepreneurial scene, the more attractive Phoenix becomes to large scale corporations who want to hire that kind of talent,” she said. “It really does help grow the economy.”
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