Buy a ticket, show up in Allentown on Nov. 20th, pitch your great business idea, and 54 hours later, you and your team (whom you may not even know yet) could be joining the ranks of successful startups like Treatspace and NoWait.
Both of those companies and their staff have participated in Startup Weekend events that took place in Pittsburgh. Of course, there’s no guarantee your idea will hit as big as those two did, but it’s not a bad place to start.
“These events are an entry point,” says event organizer Josh Lucas of Allentown startup incubator Work Hard Pittsburgh. “It’s a place for first-time entrepreneurs to learn from others who have been around the block a few times.”
The companies that come out of a Startup Weekend event, and the people who volunteer their time can run the gamut. For instance, Treatspace is a secure social software designed to manage the referral process for healthcare providers, medical practices, and hospitals. The company just raised $2.8 million in funding in the third quarter. Back in 2012, it was the winner of the first Startup Weekend in Pittsburgh.
NoWait, which is an “anti-reservation” app for restaurants that lets users avoid long lines, has raised more than $14 million in total funding since 2010. It was established as a company before Startup Weekend events began in Pittsburgh, but NoWait’s staff have served as mentors for other entrepreneurs who participate.
The Startup Weekend organization bills itself as a “global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs,” which is based in Seattle. But its whirlwind pitch-and-develop-a-business-model events can be found in cities around the world.
Every Startup Weekend follows the same blueprint: anyone can pitch an idea, and other participants vote on the best ones. Then teams form around those top ideas, and the fun begins: business model development, coding, designing, and market validation all have to be considered by each team. On the final day of the two-and-a-half day event, groups present their ideas in front of a panel of local experts, and receive feedback.
The first-place winner of last year’s Startup Weekend Pittsburgh was Tagalong Tour, an app that helps with guided tours through Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
The November Startup Weekend Pittsburgh will be held in the RE360 building at 829 Industry Street. Tickets are on sale at the Startup Weekend website, and start at $25 for students and $50 for early bird tickets for developers, designers and non-techies. Ticket prices increase after Nov. 8th.