News Column

Entrepreneur Incubator Set for Second Event March 1-3

Feb 19, 2013

Stephen Watson

Entrepreneur

Five months after the inaugural session, another three-day event meant to help would-be entrepreneurs bring their most promising innovations to the marketplace is taking place in Buffalo.

The second Buffalo Startup Weekend runs March 1-3 at Medaille College, which also hosted the first Startup Weekend in November. The 54-hour event offers prospective business owners the chance to work collaboratively and receive feedback and mentoring from experts.

At least five of the teams from the first Startup Weekend are still working to build a company out of their initial ideas, and organizers say the success of the November event drove them to put together a second one sooner than they had originally planned.

"I think it's exceeded pretty much everyone expectations, from the ideas and the turnout," said co-organizer Dan Magnuszewski, chief of innovation at Z80 Labs, a downtown Buffalo incubator for technology companies.

Startup Weekend is a national program sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, and Buffalo's version is aimed at people who have an idea for new computer software, smartphone applications or mobile technologies.

The November event drew 150 participants, who pitched their ideas and then formed teams around the concepts that seemed to have the most commercial potential.

Those teams worked over the weekend to develop product prototypes and a business plan and then presented their plans and demonstrated their products on the final day of the event.

Last November's winning idea was "Do Something," a social networking game that allows users to play charades on their smartphones.

Tech entrepreneur Steve Poland said that he has spent the last few months working on the design and user experience of the "Do Something" app and that he is raising money for the company he hopes to incorporate as early as this week.

"I'm really excited. Honestly, without Startup Weekend, I wouldn't have validation that this idea was valid," Poland said.

Poland's idea is one of at least five that came out of the original Startup Weekend, whose originators are still working to develop them into a marketable app or technology.

Startup Weekend organizers also set up Seven Week Startup to build off the momentum from the November event.

Entrepreneurs are meeting every Saturday for seven weeks in the offices of Z80 Labs -- housed on the first floor of The Buffalo News -- in a structured program meant to boost to their efforts to create a marketable product.

Another Seven Week Startup will begin after the March Startup Weekend.

Last year's top teams received cash prizes, free incubator space in Z80 Labs or nxtARROW, flexible space in CoworkBuffalo and legal advice. This time around, the winning teams will receive business services but no monetary awards.

The second Buffalo Startup Weekend begins at 6:30 p.m. March 1 and wraps up at 9 p.m. March 3. In addition to Magnuszewski and Poland, co-organizers are Jon Spitz, Dan Gigante, Nicholas Barone, Charlie Wertz and Lisa Primerano.

Preregistration is required, and tickets are limited. Ticket prices are $25 for full-time students and $50 for the public, and include meals.

For information, visit www.buffalo.startupweekend.org.



Source: (c)2013 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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