On May 16-18th 40 people gathered together to create 3 companies from scratch. It’s a new phenomenon that is sweeping the nation: Startup Weekend. It was created by Andrew Hyde in Boulder Colorado with events held all over the country and Canada.
I knew some of the folks who had thrown Startup Weekend Houston in September 2007 and heard more details about the experience from Erica O’Grady at Barcamp San Marcos in October 2007. I immediately thought it would be a great concept to bring to San Antonio.
I started discussing this with my network of podcasters, entrepreneurs and social media folk to gage the level of interest. Todd O’Neill, Organizer of Co-Working LaTaza, suggested the person I needed to connect with was Dean McCall of Ideagin. Todd introduced us on Twitter, we met in person at First Friday Co-Working at Firecat Studio and Dean jumped aboard. Since it takes a team to make first-time events like these happen, Dean knew that Celeste Diaz Ferraro was the perfect person to round out the Startup Weekend San Antonio Organizers.
Erica O’Grady, of Peanut Butter Media, was Startup Weekend’s Representative and helped us kick off the amazing 2 1/2 days of fun. She was phenomenal! Having been at the Andrew Hyde’s first ever Startup Weekend in April 2007, attended four other weekends including organizing the Houston event she was the perfect person to offer her soft guidance throughout the weekend.
Twenty-one ideas were pitched and by the end of Friday night it was narrowed down to three:
iDre.am: A dream interpretation site
ForceXchange: an auction and community site for folks in the security forces from border patrol to military
RentEscapes: a second home/vacation home community site.
By day two, with company names chosen and domain names purchased the programmers were busy creating the architecture for the sites. Those not programming busied themselves with logos, business plans, marketing plans, video scripting, social media strategies etc…
The San Antonio Technology Center was abuzz with all the planning but there was time to wind down with afternoon chair massages and evening musical entertainment by Matt Barker.
On Sunday morning although folks were sleep deprived they were still energetic and ready to see all three companies launched. Philip Wheat of Microsoft stopped by on Sunday afternoon to give away goodies from Halo 3 Xbox games to Vista Ultimate software. By the time it was all said and done two out of the three companies had live sites: iDre.am and ForceXchange RentEscapes has plans to launch within 30 days, are staying in touch with one another and have had subsequent meetings since Startup Weekend San Antonio.
Overall, I would say my personal experience with Startup Weekend was a complete success. I met some of the most innovative, entrepreneurial and tech savvy folks in San Antonio. Not to say there were only San Antonians at Startup Weekend. There were folks from the Rio Grand Valley, Austin, Houston and Raleigh, NC. I’ve made some fast friends that I will stay connected to via Twitter and Skype.
Where do we go from here? All three teams are moving forward with their respective projects. I’ll keep you updated as things progress. As for Startup Weekend San Antonio, we’re fielding requests from folks who were unable to attend but caught the UStream of the fun. I’ll be meeting with Dean and Celeste later this week to recap the event and discuss when to hold the next event.