What could you accomplish in 54 hours with unlimited access to coffee?
Could you start a company?
That’s what the 43 participants in this year’s Startup Weekend Fargo event did.
Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate and empower individuals, teams and communities. Local organizers seek to gather some of the Red River Valley’s best developers, designers and marketers to dream up new business concepts and challenges them to team up to build a company over the course of a weekend.
The weekend kicked off with networking, pitching, and the formation of teams around the night’s top business ideas. Then the work began to prove the team’s concept was viable and then launch the business by Sunday afternoon.
While some team members went into the community to conduct research, talk with potential customers, and build some buzz around their new ventures, others stuck around base (this time it was NDSU’s Barry Hall in downtown Fargo) to code, create marketing materials, or prepare their presentations.
Wrapping up a weekend of late nights, lots of caffeine and a lot of work, eight teams presented their business pitches at the Fargo Theatre to a panel of hand-picked local business experts and an audience of their peers and community members.
After careful deliberation, three teams were chosen as first, second and third place winners.
In 2017, 11 Cobbers (students and alumni) participated in Startup Weekend Fargo.
“The best thing of Startup Weekend is that you get to be adventurous and try things like building a product that used to be just your dream, talking and reaching out to businesses and community members, and build a business of your own and that you’re really passionate about,” first-time participant Huong Tran ’17 says.
“Regardless if you are an entrepreneur at heart or not … there is so much one can learn from a Startup Weekend,” Danyel Schneider ’17 says. “You learn a lot about yourself, such as your leadership style, your strengths, your weaknesses, and probably the most important lesson: how you work with others while you are under pressure.”
Startup Weekend veteran Jake Kohl ’12 says he wishes he would have participated earlier.
“I found that Startup Weekend got me plugged into the Fargo community. My first Startup Weekend was a milestone I often use to describe a huge change in my life,” he says. “If this was something I did during my college years, I think it would have benefited me to get plugged into the community for postcollegiate opportunities in the area (or give perspective and skills to use at the minimum).”
Eme Otto ’17 adds that “Cobbers should participate in Startup Weekend if they're interested in challenging themselves in a positive, fast-paced environment where they can put their skills and knowledge to the test while also developing new abilities and gaining confidence. Especially if they think they have a great Startup idea!”
Photos courtesy of Startup Weekend Fargo
Laura Caroon '06 is a content strategist at Concordia College.