EconTracker News

Jan 19, 2013 1:46 PM by Cristy Aranguiz - KPAX News

Missoula entrepreneurs have chance to see their dreams take off

MISSOULA - Many local entrepreneurs geared up for a 54 hour-long competition that began Friday night, and the stakes are pretty high for the 126 taking part, since whoever wins gets to meet with a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

You might not have heard of Startup Weekend, but local professionals and entrepreneurs are giving up their weekend to enter a competition that might jump-start their great idea into a fresh, start-up company.

"We're here first to learn, and a couple of reasons. In terms of learning how to start a company. But you're also here to meet other entrepreneurs," explained organizer Bob Clay.

"The reason that I pushed for this to happen in Missoula and Montana is to create that fabric, that network of people who are interested in developing and starting companies," he added."

Startup Weekend events have been held all over the world, and all follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from others attending the event.

Teams organically form around the top ideas, and then they spend all day Saturday creating a business model, coding, and designing.

"So we'll have about 90 participants that are building a product. So, that's 54 hours of building, and then at the end of that you give a presentation," Clay said.

Teams get just five minutes to present their business model early Sunday evening in front of local entrepreneurial leaders that will provide them with critical feedback on their idea.

Clay says the team with the best idea will, "get access to have a one on one access to a Silicon Valley venture capitalist as well as other [venture capitalist] angels that are here."

Over 5,000 start-ups have come out of these workshops, and both Google and Microsoft sponsor Startup Weekends.

Startup Weekend Missoula wasn't heavily advertised prior to the competition except through word of mouth and social media, so local entrepreneurs who didn't have the chance to go to this one have another opportunity later in the year.

Spokane will be hosting an event in March, and a Startup Weekend will take place in Bozeman in the fall.

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