Startup Weekend Returns To Charleston

Are you ready to pitch your startup idea? Startup Weekend returns to Charleston, September 18–20, at the beautiful and modern School of Sciences and Mathematics Building at the College of Charleston.

Charleston Startup Weekend is a weekend-long, hands-on experience that brings together aspiring entrepreneurs to build scalable companies that solve real world problems. Part of a global network of events, Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where designers, developers, marketers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups. Participants receive invaluable one-on-one time with local startup leaders and successful entrepreneurs who take part as coaches, mentors, and judges.

Watch the video overview:

Last year’s inaugural Charleston Startup Weekend had over 100 participants who pitched 15 new business ideas and the winning teams were awarded prizes worth thousands of dollars, such as a small investment from Capital A Ventures, free co-working at the Catalyst Center, logo and branding from LeftRightNowIdeas, and other high-value services that help get a business going.

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The inaugural Charleston Startup Weekend had over 100 participants.

The winning teams were no exception to the display of excellence and creativity that Startup Weekends all across the world are known for. In third place was Workstar, an app that solves the problem of finding and scheduling temp workers. The second place team was Dwell, a tenant management app for rental owners. First place went to SoPerfect, an app for wives and girlfriends to create personalized gift lists in a registry that sends out reminders to their significant others who can then purchase online.

Silicon Harbor Magazine sat down with Joe Dwyer, event organizer, to see what’s happening at Startup Weekend 2015.

joe-dwyer

Joe Dwyer, Startup Weekend Organizer

For people who didn’t attend last year, what is Startup Weekend all about?

Think of it as a Startup simulator. If you’ve ever thought about starting a business, or you have started a business in the past and want to re-experience that process in a risk-free, condensed weekend, then you should buy a ticket. You get to go through the whole first couple weeks of a startup condensed into 54 hours.

Some people who may have kicked around the idea of becoming an entrepreneur may go through the weekend and then realize it’s really not for them. Maybe they underestimated the amount of work involved, or lack of structure they currently have to pursue an idea. Other people may come out charged up and confirm for themselves that they really do want to be an entrepreneur and they’ve got what it takes.

It’s also useful for people who have an idea for a startup and they don’t know how to vet the quality of the idea. Participating in Startup Weekend lets them join a team and see if the idea actually has legs. If it doesn’t, they don’t have to keep daydreaming about the idea. They can either validate it or disqualify it as a viable startup.

What changes have you made from last year?

This year we’ll have better communication at the event so people know who’s on which teams and what the skillsets are of each team member. We’re going to try to help to make sure there’s a good balance so that there isn’t too much concentration of specific skills on one team.

Another improvement is on the audio/video side. At our demo day last year, there were some audio issues and it was hard for the audience to hear. Someone will be on the mixer this year to make sure audio is leveled out.

The venue will be bigger and better this year at the College of Charleston School of Math and Science. Last year some air-conditioning issues and classrooms made the weekend less than ideal. Also, an MC this year will be able to provide better direction and make sure every team gets an equal amount of time to present.

Why have Startup Weekend in Charleston?

The best feedback came from attendees. So many said they wanted to do it again this year because they learned a lot. We had great sponsors and raised $7,500 from community sponsorship. This year we are raising that much and more.

I think the reason Charleston needs to have a Startup Weekend event every year is because there’s so much influx of talent and interest into the entrepreneurial space. There’s so much activity being developed here through groups like the Harbor Entrepreneur Center, the Digital Corridor, Chamber of Commerce, Lowcounty Local First, Silicon Harbor Magazine, SC Launch and more —it seems like everywhere you turn, the startup culture is really taking hold and that’s wonderful. It could become one of the fastest growing industries in Charleston if all these different efforts are successful, and there’s no reason it can’t be. It’s a great event that plays a small, once-a-year role in keeping that momentum going, and it is a valuable use of our time and resources.

Tickets are available HERE

If you have questions about the event, would like to become a sponsor, or are interested in volunteering, please contact Joe Dwyer at 843-926-2631.

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