Silicon Prairie News

Startup Weekend Kansas City: A veteran’s view of 54 frenetic hours

Kansas City April 13, 2011 by Royce Haynes Only 19 days until Big Omaha. Get your tickets before they sell out!

Startup Weekend Kansas City 2010 took place at Infegy's offices. Photo by Steven Chau.

Picture a weekend-long event in which you could meet new people, promote your idea and take that idea to the next level in just under 54 hours. I know, the thought of taking an idea to a social event and bringing it to fruition in a weekend seems insane, but this is exactly what happens at Startup Weekend. Don’t believe me? Check out BigStove, a Chicago-based idea that connects chefs and cooks to food lovers. Or take a look at Zaarly, a Kansas City-based company that is a proximity-based, real-time buyer market. Companies like BigStove and Zaarly are the essence of Startup Weekend

I visited with Steven Chau about his experience at Startup Weekend and what drew him in. Before I share my conversation with Steven, I should mention that he’s a Startup Weekend veteran. Having attended eight Startup Weekends and now serving as a facilitator for Startup Weekend Kansas City (SWKC) for the third year, Chau enjoys the synergy of action-oriented folks and their crunch to build. 

The birth of an idea

"Startup Weekend is equivalent to having a one-night stand and coming out that following weekend with a baby,” Chau said (left, photo from twitte.com/whereisciao). Friday night is your one-night stand. You meet potential partners, pitch your idea and find out who’s interested in conceiving your idea and nurturing it into a viable product. Chau set out for his first Startup Weekend in Indianapolis with a few friends.

“At first, my friends and I talked about this awesome idea using voicemail and text images, but instead of working together we did our own thing so we could meet new people,” Chau said. “So I ended up pitching an idea, and it caught the attention of 12 people.” 

Chau's first pitch at Startup Weekend Indianapolis earned him and his team one of the ideas that was “accepted” for the weekend. That translated into an opportunity to work together in creating, implementing and demoing a product called More Than a Meal, a system for managing meals gifted by friends and families undergoing emotional experiences, e.g., pregnancies or medical treatment. 

Experience execution

Startup Weekend isn’t a one-time ordeal. People like Chau go back because it exercises the process of executing an idea. “Startup Weekend has such a large amount of resources and the productivity is addictive,” Chau said.

According to Chau, it’s important to have an open mind and be flexible, because some ideas simply don’t pan out. More important than an idea panning out is action and meeting people along the way. 

The bizperc building (left) will be the site of Startup Weekend Kansas City. Photo by Think Big Partners.

Want to get involved?

Take time out and pitch your idea at SWKC from Friday-Sunday. The event will kick off at bizperc, one of Kansas City’s prominent early-stage startup and business accelerators. Details on Startup Weekend are below. For more information or to register, visit SWKC's website.

  • Where: 1800 Baltimore, Kansas City, Mo.
  • When: Starts Friday at 6 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 9 p.m. 
  • Cost: $60 (By registering at SWKC’s web site, you will have all food and drinks paid for, in addition to other perks)
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