Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem will play host to a bevy of eager entrepreneurs and entrepreneur wannabes looking to pitch their projects and win the inaugural Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend scheduled for Nov. 2-4.
According to Lehigh Valley Tech organizer Anthony Durante, a founder of the group that organized the Lehigh Valley Hack 2012 hackathon in March 2012, the Startup Weekend is one of the nation’s premier entrepreneurship events and a the natural progression of the group’s vision.
“We have wanted to bring an event like Startup Weekend to the Lehigh Valley since we started Lehigh Valley Tech,” said Durante, an Economic Development Specialist with the Allentown Economic Development Corp. “The success of the hackathon provided the proof of concept to Ben Franklin Technology Partners — our generous Lehigh Valley Hack sponsors — and the entire community that there is massive interest in building cutting edge products here in the Lehigh Valley.”
“After the hackathon, everyone asked what we would do next. Our first call was to Startup Weekend,” Durante said.
The Startup Weekend craze originated in Boulder, Co., and has quickly become a world-wide phenomenon. According to a January 2012 article posted on the popular Tech Crunch website, Startup Weekend in 2011 “held 260 events in 202 cities [across] 67 countries” around the world. From Silicon Valley to Beirut entrepreneurs come together each weekend to spend 54 intense hours pitching and validating their ideas, then building prototype designs of their product in order to compete for prizes.
Startup Weekend, now headquartered in Seattle, Wash., boasts an impressive roll call of global sponsors including The Kauffman Foundation, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and CloudMine – a company that was born out of a Startup Weekend held in Philadelphia in the spring of 2011.
Ben Franklin Technology Partners has stepped up once again to offer the use of its expansive conference room space in the TechVentures incubator.
“Events like the Lehigh Valley Hack and Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to receive concentrated support, constructive criticism, and encouragement to start and grow their technology ventures here,” said Wayne Barz, Manager of Entrepreneurial Services. “These events provide Ben Franklin Technology Partners and other entrepreneurial service providers in the Lehigh Valley with the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities in helping entrepreneurs.”
As word spreads throughout the Lehigh Valley entrepreneurial community, the event is quickly drawing the attention of organizations across the region. The Allentown Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) was the first to sign up as a prize sponsor, even before Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend’s official launch.
“AEDC is committed to making Allentown attractive to the creative professionals that drive innovation in the Lehigh Valley. Efforts like Startup Weekend perfectly complement our strategic objectives,” said AEDC Assistant Director Matthew Tuerk.
AEDC will be offering free one-year memberships, to the top three teams, for its coworking space including dedicated desk space for the winning team. Tuerk was enthusiastic about the prize offering.
“Space in AEDC’s Hive 4A coworking space should provide tremendous benefit to the winners of Startup Weekend,” he said. “It offers the chance to connect to a community of collaborative entrepreneurs and access to many of the services that entrepreneurs need to succeed.”
Durante said the organizing team has much to do to get ready for Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend.
“Along with organizations like AEDC and Ben Franklin TechVentures we are looking forward to reaching out to many of the companies that make the Lehigh Valley such a great place for entrepreneurs and getting them involved in our Startup Weekend,” says Tim Lytle, one of the organizers of the event. “Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship is beneficial to everyone and we expect to see established companies involved not just as sponsors, but as mentors, judges, and even sending participants.”
Barz also encouraged Lehigh Valley businesses to get involved with the Startup Weekend event.
“Sponsoring Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend puts an organization clearly and directly in the ‘technology economy’ space,” Barz said. “Startups that participate and survive will recognize that company as an early supporter and focus on providing services to the tech businesses in the region. Sponsoring [this event] is an investment in a company’s future value stream.”
For more information on Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend, including tickets for the event, please visit: http://lehighvalley.startupweekend.org
About Startup Weekends
Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups!
Startup Weekends are weekend-long, hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if startup ideas are viable. On average, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, the other half have business backgrounds.
Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts. For more information, go to: http://startupweekend.org/about/
About Lehigh Valley Tech
Founded in March 2011, Lehigh Valley Tech is a group of designers, developers, engineers, enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists dedicated to promoting technology and entrepreneurship in the Lehigh Valley. Though its efforts, Lehigh Valley Tech hopes to help transform the regional economy into a vibrant, self-sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystem that creates jobs and wealth for the 21st Century Lehigh Valley and its surrounding regions. Lehigh Valley Tech views the Lehigh Valley as one region within a greater network of economic regions, where the success of one leads to the success of all. In order for this to happen, everyone must be willing push the boundaries of technology, education, and states of mind beyond what are traditionally accepted limits. For more information, go to: http://lehighvalleytech.org