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Startup Weekend helps start new businesses

Photo By: Brandy A. Cimmino
Weber State University employee Trevor Kendrick (left) organizes his team for the creation of the Sunrise/Sunset app at Startup Weekend as iOS developer Joshua Howland from Salt Lake City and Craig Gundy, former professor and associate dean of the Dumke College of Health Professions, consider joining his team.

Participants at the Ogden Startup Weekend pitched their ideas, formed teams and created businesses through mobile app development from Thursday to Saturday. The top ideas had the opportunity to be picked, creating a startup for a new business.

Over a period of 54 hours, participants networked, working in teams to create something innovative and beneficial to the community. The event provided an opportunity to put ideas into action instead of only talking about them. Some contestants said they were ready to generate revenue with their ideas by Saturday.

“We’re trying to build a startup community here,” said Alex Lawrence, organizer of the event and director of entrepreneurship at Weber State University. Lawrence worked with facilitators and students to make the event happen.

The weekend started off with Steve Blank, professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia, speaking through Skype and giving advice on starting up a business. Blank said the closest thing to a founder is an artist.

“An artist sees something that no one else does, and if you don’t have that, then what you are going to be doing is just a side job,” Blank said.

After Blank answered questions, participants pitched their ideas, and the top ideas were voted on. Teams formed, and they worked late into the night, with plenty of Red Bull and food provided.

Governor Gary Herbert spoke on Friday. According to, Herbert has focused on strengthening Utah’s economy through education, energy, jobs and the state’s ability to solve its own problems. Because of his efforts, Utah has been recognized as the “best state for business and careers” by Forbes Magazine.

“We’re in an exciting time in history where three or four people can pitch an idea and hit a home run,” said Brian Smith, a participant who pitched the idea of the Street Team app.

Smith said the basic idea for his app is to fill a communications gap between people who manage an event and people who promote it. People can buy tickets through this app and find information they need on the go, while those running the app are generating revenue.

Smith’s goal is to sell tickets digitally and create a faster way to generate revenue.

“It would be the end of paper tickets,” Smith said.

This was just one of the 50 ideas pitched at the event. More than 150 people participated, crowding the halls of the conference center to sell the best idea, or finding a team to work with and become business partners.

“People that want to start a company should connect with other people who want to start a company so they can start companies together,” said Al Doan, founder of Quilt Mogul, a small business in Missouri.

Doan said the intent of the event was for people to get their ideas going and brainstorm with others about them. Doan hosted the startup weekend in Salt Lake City in February of this year, and said he goes to as many of them as he can.

“The intent is to be a part of the ecosystem,” Doan said. “If you do the work now, when you don’t need it, then when the time comes, like with my company, there’s lots of people to work with.”

Startup Weekend was originally a nonprofit organization that started in 2007. It expanded nationally and then globally, with more than 70 countries involved. Facilitators work to keep the events under control.

Shavannah Tiera, one of the facilitators, said she likes going to the different events because she gets a real sense of how other people work.

“I think one important thing you see in this community is sharing,” Tiera said. “If you actually involve other people in your idea, then the idea gets bigger.”

More information on Startup Weekend and the events coming up in different cities is available at

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