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IC businesses sponsor Startup Weekend

BY JORDAN MICKLE | SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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Local businesses are sponsoring Startup Weekend Iowa City to attract students to the technology business.

Software developers, graphic designers, and entrepreneurs will meet for just 54 hours, and at the end of the session, they'll have come up with a new web service or mobile app.

The event will be held this weekend at the Pappajohn Business Building. This is the first time Iowa City will take part, and organizers say 30 to 40 software developers, graphic designers, and entrepreneurs will attend.

Startup Weekends are held in more than 65 countries and 185 cities around the world, building a network of more than 32,000 people and launching more than 1,000 ventures.

Stephen Ausman, a cofounder of Stackd — one of the organizations sponsoring the event — said the group is helping with Startup Weekend because the members wanted to encourage UI students aspiring to be entrepreneurs.

"We thought Startup Weekend Iowa City would be a fun event to be involved in, and we are hoping to see some cool new companies come out of it," said Ausman.

Student entrepreneurs can still sign up for Startup Weekend until the event begins. Tickets for students are $35; the fee covers all presentations, meals, materials, mental support, and access to other resources from the Startup Weekend organization.

Karl Becker, one of the organizers of Startup Weekend, said participants' ideas are generally simple enough to create a prototype in the 54-hour time frame.

"It's a great way to stretch yourself into a new skill," he said.

Startup Weekend took place in Des Moines earlier this year with about 80 participants in attendance, including students from Iowa State University and Drake University.

Prototypes that were built during the Des Moines event include Lady Capital — an application that encourages sharing wants and desires between couples while allowing for rewards to be set by the individuals. Another prototype built was Fundle — a group-purchasing mechanism centered on the ideas of transparency and cost sharing.

Shannon Thomas, a cofounder of Fundle and organizer for Startup Weekend Iowa City, said she got a lot out of the Des Moines event.

"I had no idea what to expect from Startup Weekend Des Moines; I went into it completely blind," she said.

Thomas said the event will have a laid-back atmosphere and an opportunity to test ideas.

"[Startup Weekend Iowa City] is not about knowing all the answers," she said. "It's about surrounding yourself with others who are committed to finding the answers and then seeing where they go from there."


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