News Column

54 Hours to Create a Business

Oct. 19, 2012

Mitch Shaw

Ever wondered what it takes to be a tech entrepreneur?

Well, in about two weeks, Ogden, Utah, will likely be a great place to find out.

Weber State University, Ogden city and local entrepreneurs are collaborating to bring "Startup Weekend Ogden" to the city from Nov. 1-3 at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center.

Startup Weekend is a registered not-for-profit organization that organizes 54-hour weekend events during which groups of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies.

Alex Lawrence, who is the Vice Provost of Innovation and Economic Development at WSU and one of the event's organizers, said all Startup Weekends follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to give a three-minute pitch on their startup idea and then receive feedback from their peers.

Teams then organically form around the top ideas, as determined by popular vote, and a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing and market analysis follows.

The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

"We've had companies form on the spot and start generating revenue by the time the weekend is over," Lawrence said. "It can be pretty insane."

North Ogden resident Joel Grasmeyer said he will attend the conference to pitch an idea about a GPS-guided outdoor adventure software application.

"It's going to be a pretty intense weekend," said Grasmeyer, who owns Real Estate Tools, a company that creates real estate investment analysis software for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. "To have all these people in the same room, kicking around ideas, is going to be pretty exciting."

Lawrence said Startup Weekend Ogden dovetails with other initiatives to bring tech startup business to Ogden.

Ogden city recently received $1 million in federal money to help fund the creation of a lab to train workers, as well as provide space for business startups in the field of software applications for mobile devices.

Mayor Mike Caldwell said the lab, which is at 2314 Washington Blvd., is expected to create 750 jobs and generate up to $4.6 million in private investment over 10 years.

"We're really trying to make Ogden a premier tech community," Lawrence said.

Startup Weekend Ogden will feature prizes, food from local restaurants and several guest speakers, including Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.



Source: (c)2012 the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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