Startup Weekend Changed My Life

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My life for the past three years seems like the antithesis to a Lemony Snicket novel: A Series of Incredibly Fortunate Events. One of those truly fortunate and transformative events was the Startup Weekend I attended February 17-19 2012.

A ripe sophomore who had not yet had his first legal drink, I attended Startup Weekend via an Idea Lab grant at the Urban Arts Space. I had pitched an idea to Idea Lab in the hopes of getting some seed capital to start a website marketplace for OSU students to buy and sell books and football tickets with one another. I actually never ended up even pitching the idea on that Friday evening at TechColumbus, but a couple other off-hand ideas that I thought sounded fun.

Once the voting began for ideas to work on, I did not receive a single vote. Knowing all of about two people in the room, I was pretty terrified and a little disheartened, but someone approached me and told me that she liked my ideas and that I should’ve “hustled” harder to grab votes. Having briefly considered leaving that evening and not coming back the following day, this gesture changed my mind and I eventually latched on with a team of people I had just met – a team who wanted to create an iPhone app for proving how manly you are.

The woman who had given me those kind words eventually joined our team as well, and became a very good friend and mentor to me. This year, I am helping her to organize the next round of Startup Weekend.

With limited business knowledge and experience, and zero design or development ability, I basically audited that Startup Weekend besides doing some market research, concept validation, and putting a pitch deck together. And it was awesome.

Now let’s fast-forward and follow the domino effect of those three days. I met four individuals who became very good friends of mine to this day, learned what goes into creating an iOS application, what it took to get into TechCrunch, the art of the deal, and the meaning of the word hustle.

Even more valuably, this app got me a meeting with a man who became my eventual boss that summer, working for his startup at the time of its launch. That summer internship has easily been the most valuable accelerated course in launching a startup that I could’ve ever taken. At that job, I didn’t just learn the ins and outs of a launch, but how to secure media placements, social media marketing, and the finer points of crowdfunding.

Through those experiences, I had the knowledge I needed to finally build and launch that student marketplacein the fall. It’s been a very successful and rewarding experience. (I forgot to mention, I met the developers at Startup Weekend!) I was even able to apply my crowdfunding knowledge to a successful campaign.

Keeping an updated resume and LinkedIn profile, I have met countless incredible individuals that I wouldn’t have believed two years ago I would be in the same room with. I took part in the StartupBus event this past year, another 3-day startup on wheels. And with that confidence and experience, I went full circle and was selected as the next president of the Business Builders Club – another driving factor to attend Startup Weekend in the first place.

I think this answer on Quora hits the nail on the head of what I unintentionally lucked into doing. Afraid of the time commitment or rejection? Don’t be. This event gives you a taste of real, practical entrepreneurship and can change your life in a multitude of ways, all of them positive.

Ready to take the leap? Join us! You can purchase your tickets to Columbus Startup Weekend July 26-28 at the Columbus College of Art and Design here! Afraid of the cost? Feel free to contact me and see if any of our promo codes apply to you! And don’t forget about the Buckeye Interactive Scholarship Program!

Article By: Jay Clouse