AlphaLab's latest class. Courtesy InnovationWorks.

A new iteration of Startup Weekend is happening in Pittsburgh later this month, with the goal of encouraging more women to participate in the startup community.

Anyone can pitch an idea for a business at Startup Weekend Pittsburgh Women’s Edition, but it will be led by and will cater to women, says co-organizer Catherine Tsavalas. Business ideas don’t have to be female-centric, she adds.

“A lot of the people who have signed up [for Startup Weekend Women] have never come to a Startup Weekend Event before,” Tsavalas says. Among the women who have signed up to either attend or pitch, many have said they feel more comfortable with the female-friendly theme, and have been waiting for an event like this to get more involved with the startup community, she adds.

Based in Seattle, the Startup Weekend organization is a “global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs,” its website says. The 54-hour pitch-and-develop-a-business-model events are held in cities around the world.

The Startup Weekend Pittsburgh Women event came together because female participation was lacking in previous startup events here, even though attendance overall was strong.

Every Startup Weekend follows the same blueprint: Starting on a Friday night, anyone can pitch an idea. The other participants vote on the best ones, and teams form around those top ideas. Over the course of the weekend, the teams dig in and work on business model development, coding, designing and market validation.

Teams get coaching from local startup founders and experts including Ilana Diamond, managing director of AlphaLab Gear, and Marta Dalton, director of e-commerce at Coca-Cola.

At the end of the weekend, teams present their ideas in front of a panel of local experts. The judges for SUW Women will be Hahna Alexander, CTO and co-founder of SolePower, Nicki Zevola Benvenuti, founder and CEO of FutureDerm, and designer Vicki Crowley of Landesberg Design.

Tsavalas says the organizers see a need for female developers to get involved with the event, and encourage anyone with development experience to consider attending.

By the end of the weekend, organizers are hoping that along with some exciting new startup ideas, an inclusive new community will have been formed, Tsavalas says.

Startup Weekend Pittsburgh Women’s Edition will be March 18-20 at AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear building in East Liberty. Tickets range in price from $10 for the Friday night pitch session only, to $75 for business and developer level admission. Student discounts are available, and event organizers are offering four scholarships for developers and designers on behalf of AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear. Business-level tickets are already on a wait list, and past Startup Weekend Pittsburgh events have sold out.

For more information, visit the Startup Weekend Pittsburgh Women’s Edition website

Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is an award-winning writer and editor who spends way too much time on Twitter. Her experience includes crime, features and business reporting, and she has a huge crush on Pittsburgh. She was...