On Feb. 24, the CSU Institute for Entrepreneurship hosted the final pitches for Fort Collins Startup Weekend at one of the campus’s newest facilities.
The event started on Friday, Feb. 22, and participants formed teams to work on new business ideas all weekend. It was the first large-scale event in the new Nancy Richardson Design Center.
“There is one goal of Startup Weekend,” said Mark Madic, facilitator of Startup Weekend. “To have a zero-barriers approach to entrepreneurship. This is a great opportunity to have industries connect with student innovations.”
Colorado State University and the Institute for Entrepreneurship invited entrepreneurs from all departments at the university to participate in the 54-hour startup weekend. On Feb. 22 entrepreneurs gathered to brainstorm new ideas in music. On Feb. 23 the teams traveled to local businesses to interview and do research and create a five-minute pitch.
“We were so excited to host an event in and around music,” said Rachel Isaman, senior program manager of venture development for the College of Business. “We wanted to bring together all the creative things happening in Fort Collins and look at it with a new perspective.”
Startup Weekend also kicked off the Fort Collins Startup Week, which took place from Feb. 25 through March 1. Startup Week is a community-run week of speakers, workshops and networking that promotes local artists, small businesses and startups.
Startup Weekend and Startup Week are both global programs that are part of the Techstars network. Thousands of events are hosted every year, around the globe, and run by passionate entrepreneurs and community members.
On Feb. 24, five teams gathered in the Nancy Richardson Design Center to pitch their ideas to three judges. The judges were Dawn DeTienne, a professor in the College of Business; Jesse Elliott, director of The Music District; and Greg Kimble, chief executive officer of KMGLife. There was also a performance by local band Fat Stallion.
The teams’ products were Juke, an app system to make sure that a playlist is playing everyone’s favorite song, and Sintilo, a system to create a perfect vocal. There was Mojo Patch, a way to upcycle used clothes, and AIMusic, using artificial intelligence to create music. The last team’s idea was e·Muse, a business model to make music education accessible to all.
The teams were given five minutes to pitch their ideas to the judges and the audience for a cash prize. Prize money included awards of $1,000, $500 and $250. Teams were judged on three things: validation, execution and business model.
The judges thought the quality of pitches from e-Muse and Juke was so good that they combined the $1,000 and $250 prizes and split the money between the two teams. Sintilo won $500 for its outstanding prototype and demonstration of its technology.
“This opportunity is amazing,” said Scott Parmelee, student and member of team Juke. “I am an engineering student, so I do not get chances to learn business often, but Startup Week opens that up for me, and I really enjoy it.”