Sponsored by the University of Cincinnati Center for Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (CEC), UC scholars attended the 2016 Cincinnati Startup Weekend event at Union Hall on Friday Nov. 18-20.
These scholars were involved in a 54-hour dynamic startup creation event which saw them develop projects from ideas into complete products and services. This helped them not only create their startup, but also to develop valuable connections with mentors, leaders, investors and cofounders from around the Cincinnati area.
“Making connections between young UC entrepreneurs and the business community is a major goal of the CEC,” says CEC executive director Tom Dalziel. “Events like this help us accomplish that goal, opening these students to valuable interactions while letting them have a bit of fun too.”
The Startup Weekend is an annual program of the Techstars accelerator, which helps young entrepreneurs overcome the difficulties of startup creation. Through a three day activity that gives access to professionals and resources, the event works to make connections, provide resources, teach what it takes to start a company and guide entrepreneurs down the path to making their ideas a reality.
“I really enjoyed the Cincinnati Startup Weekend event because it allowed me to gauge my progress as an entrepreneur,” says Muhamed Ahmouda, a scholar sponsored by the CEC. “It was a meeting of great minds with a fun side that allowed me to learn a lot of useful tips from veterans and collaborate with people I never would have.”
On the night of the event’s first day, attendees were given the opportunity to meet and network with future collaborators and mentors over dinner, all before choosing a project, pitching their ideas to each other and building the teams that they would be working with for the rest of the weekend.
By day two, these ten entrepreneur teams found themselves learning from local mentors before getting to work on using their resources and support to put their projects into action, all before the final day’s five minute presentations before a panel of expert judges.
For as hectic as such a process may sound, it is the experience of collaboration and mentorship that stays with these young entrepreneurs.
“After meeting with all of the budding entrepreneurs, it gave me more confidence to pursue my own ideas,” says CEC sponsored UC scholar Joshua Giles on his experience. “I also gained friendships that I think will be long lasting.”
Joshua’s experience is well in line with the expectations of Startup Cincy cofounder and event organizer Alex Bowman, who argues that the experience provides something outside of just the opportunity to work with other students, noting that the learning and community aspect is the real draw.
“We want attendees to leave at the end of the weekend feeling like they could start a company,” says Bowman.