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Wanted: People with business ideas for Startup Weekend

Madison Mathews • Nov 12, 2012 at 10:47 PM

Aspiring entrepreneurs will have a chance to potentially see their ideas pay off during the Tri-Cities’ first Startup Weekend.

The 2012 Tri-Cities Startup Weekend will be held Friday through Sunday at Brown Hall on the East Tennessee State University Campus.

The event is sponsored by AccelNow, Synaptian and ETSU. Dave Lawrence, executive director of AccelNow, and Scott Downie and Steven Jenkins, of Synaptian, are the organizers.

Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where people of different backgrounds — including design, marketing and development — come together to share ideas with the ultimate goal of launching a startup by the end of the weekend.

The first night of the event begins with an open-mic session in which attendees pitch their idea. Teams are formed around the best ideas and they work all weekend to create a business plan before submitting their plans and prototypes to judges on the final night of the event.

“The people that usually win are the ones that have identified a real need out there ... and they’re really passionate about finding a solution and they think they’ve got the idea. They don’t need to have the skill and experience to put it together,” Lawrence said.

Speakers, coaches and judges include Eric McCarty, marketing director of ITD Interactive; Tony Lettich; Spark Plaza owner Jose Castillo; small business consultant Scott Patashnick; and Washington County Economic Development Council Director of Redevelopment Shannon Castillo.

This is the first official Startup Weekend in Tennessee, and the Tri-Cities is the perfect place to have such an event given the amount of talent in the region, according to event organizers.

“Lots of people graduate in this area and they end up moving away. There aren’t many outlets in the Tri-Cities area for computer science students or people like that, so people starting businesses would be the number one reason,” said Downie. “Another good reason for people to start up businesses in the Tri-Cities is cost of living. If you compare cost of living from here to California and New York, starting a business here is much more affordable.”

Registration will be open until the event starts at 6:30 p.m.

Cost is $99, which includes seven meals. Students with a valid ID will get in for $49. Any ETSU faculty or staff can get in for free.

For more information, visit TriCities.StartupWeekend.org.

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