My Week in ESTEEM: Startup Weekend 2017

Author: Emily Tokarowski

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Let me begin by explaining Startup Weekend. This is an event in which developers, business gurus, startup enthusiasts, designers and more come together to pitch startup ideas, form teams around those ideas, and then work together to develop a working prototype, business model, and presentation. However, as the name implies, this is all to be completed in 52 hours. Yup. From Friday night to early afternoon on Sunday, we work to come as close as we can to launching a viable business.

Seeing that we are in an entrepreneurial graduate program, a handful of ESTEEMers, along with help from David Murphy, put in a great deal of time and effort to coordinate this excitingly frenzied event. Naturally, it was held at Innovation Park, just outside of campus. Nearly 60 people participated, including a good portion of ESTEEM students.

Some of the startups included an app that makes compatible matches between future pet owners and adoptable animals, an identity management service that allows you to subscribe to your contacts’ information, a platform to solidify family memories and stories, and a video library tour guide app. Each group was responsible for validating their value propositions, conducting customer interviews, developing a business model and financials, and creating a working prototype or demo. Oh, and we only had five minutes to present all of our hard work and information on the final day.

Overall, it was an incredible opportunity for us ESTEEMers to put into practice the many lessons and skills that we’ve learned over the past 7 months, as well as share our entrepreneurial knowledge with the other participating students and South Bend residents. In addition, I know many of us took away a lot from this weekend, such as new partners, friends, interests, skills, and all around knowledge. Bringing together a handful of people or more with different backgrounds and visions to work on forming a startup in one full weekend is no easy feat. However, each of the 8 groups that formed seemed to come together beautifully—everyone utilizing people’s individual expertize and skills while collaborating and communicating to ensure everyone worked towards a common goal. Although it was a little hectic and stressful at times, we all appreciated the frequent laughing, positive energy, and rewarding experience that was Startup Weekend.