Startup Weekend is coming to Bangor!

If you are interested in startups, innovation, or working with others who are interested in them, come and be a part of this event:

Startup Weekend is Coming to Bangor! by Erika Allison

How often have you had an awesome idea but not known what to do with it?

That was the story of my life until the first Startup Weekend came to Maine in 2013.  In that single 54-hour weekend, I worked with a group of people I’d never met to take an idea from concept to reality.  I learned about pitching, forming teams, marketing, finances, legal considerations, prototyping, testing, iterating, pivoting, and other steps that go into launching a business venture.  I learned by experiencing them first-hand rather than sitting through a lecture or reading a book. It’s time to bring Startup Weekend to Bangor!  We have the people, the infrastructure, and the energy!  A team of volunteers from the greater Bangor community is organizing the event.  Two of the organizers, Gerry Hall and myself, attended the first Startup Weekend Portland in 2013 and are excited to help bring one to our region.  The first Startup Weekend Bangor is scheduled for September 19-21, 2014.

What exactly is Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered community leaders, and entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. The non-profit organization is headquartered out of Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in hundreds of cities. People around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

What Startup Weekend looks like

Here’s how it works.  On Friday night, participants sign in and network.  After about 30 minutes, a facilitator gives a brief overview of the weekend and invites anyone and everyone to pitch an idea.  Each pitch lasts one minute.  Each pitch idea is written down on a large piece of paper and hung on the wall.  After the pitches are complete, each attendee gets three stickers that serve as votes.  If you’re a participant, you get to vote.  You can place all three stickers on one idea or distribute them as you see fit.  Teams form around the most favored ideas.  Once all participants are on a team, the work begins. On Saturday, the teams work all day. Team members self-assess their strengths and weaknesses, and decide who will take on which roles.  Each team needs a leader who can keep its group focused and on task.  A team may need a technical person, such as a web or mobile phone developer, as well as someone who can validate the business idea by doing research and talking to customers.  The key to a solid team is diversity among its team members. A good designer and a solid pitcher are worth their weight in gold.  Someone will also need to pitch the business concept to a panel of  judges on Sunday night. The work continues on Sunday.  At some point (hopefully not at the last minute) each team should make sure it has something visual to show to the judges: a web site, a mobile app, or a slide show.  In the evening, the pitches are delivered to the judges, and after deliberating, the judges will announce the winners.

Magic happens

From my experience, Startup Weekend is magical.  Diverse community members come together to work through ideas over a single weekend supported by coaches, mentors, facilitators, and (free) food.  Imagine a room full of engineers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, business people, community organizers, artists, and students who gather for one purpose: to launch startups.  Startup Weekend organizers provide everything you need, from websites and lab space to coaching and pitch feedback. The other amazing outcome of Startup Weekend is how it serves as a catalyst for a region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.  There are so many pieces to the startup puzzle and Startup Weekend brings all of those pieces together in one place.  At the Startup Weekend I attended, seven startups were launched by Sunday.  Even better, the connections and networks that were made that weekend have long sustained beyond the weekend. People often ask if they will be expected to work on this project once Startup Weekend is over.  The answer is no.  Some teams may want to stick together and keep their startup idea going, but it’s not a requirement.

Sign up now!

Startup Weekend Bangor will be held on September 19-21, 2014.  The event kicks off Friday night at Bagel Central in Bangor at 6:30 pm.  On Saturday, teams will work at the University of Maine Foster Center for Student Innovation.  Teams can also access the equipment and prototyping labs at the University of Maine Innovative Media Research and Commercialization (IMRC) Center on Saturday.  Sunday will take place at the innovation center.

If you want to be a part of a team that takes an idea to reality, register now!  Early bird registration is available for $75 until September 5th, then jumps to $99.  Students are just $25. Meals, snacks, and drink are provided all weekend; you don’t need to worry about a thing. Just show up and work on your business! Still not sure?  Visit the Startup Weekend Bangor website, watch the Startup Weekend trailer, or email Startup Bangor.

Blackstone Accelerates Growth (BxG) is a gold-level sponsor of the event.  UMaine is a BxG partner, operating the Bangor Innovation Hub (one of three regional hubs across the state).  The University of Maine IMRC Center is a contributing sponsor.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available.  Please email Startup Bangor for more information.  

Jess Knox

About Jess Knox

Jess Knox is a former political consultant and high-ranking SBA official who is passionate about entrepreneurship and Maine. These days he helps companies manage growth through his firm Olympico Strategies.