Global start-up event comes to Chico


The Startup Weekend happens over three days, each day giving participants opportunities to learn and work with each other. Infographic by Christine Zuniga

Is it possible to pitch a start-up idea, build a team, create a business model, conduct market research and begin product development within 54 hours? Startup Weekend thinks so.

Startup Weekend, a global movement powered by Google Entrepreneurs, is being hosted in Chico for the first time ever, thanks to a collaboration between Chicostart, a local startup incubator, and the Chico State Entrepreneur Association. Startup Weekend simply provides a facilitator, and it is up to the local organizing team to bring in the coaches, mentors and sponsors for the event.

With its “No Talk. All Action” motto, Startup Weekend fits right in place with Chicostart and its mission to provide resources to “help catapult start-ups,” along with CEA’s vision of empowering students to “take their ventures off-campus.”

Wendy Porter, director of Chicostart, is hoping the event will continue annually and encourage more collaboration among entrepreneurs, students and professionals in other fields, including engineering, design, marketing and computer science.

“The goal of it is to really bring together the start-up community and entrepreneurs in that community, and demystify the process of building a start-up,” Porter said. “It’s to give support and power to the people that want to solve problems in the community.”

The weekend-long event, taking place April 1-3, has been hosted nearly 3,000 times in 150 countries and has been the starting point for several successful start-ups.

Aside from the success stories however, Startup Weekend continues to be appealing due to the endless opportunities to meet other like-minded people in the community and to learn from local coaches and mentors with diverse experiences.

“(Participants) can learn more about what they’re doing right or wrong, participating on a team or just being able to interact with those mentors and meet potential collaborators; it’s like a really intense networking event,” Porter said.

Wendy Porter, director of Chicostart, is part of the organizing team for Chico’s Startup Weekend, an event which she believes will be educational as well as a great networking event. Photo courtesy of Wendy Porter.

The event starts with dinner and networking on Friday before the 60-second pitches begin, which leads to voting for top pitches, team formations and the chance to start working, as teams can stay as late as the venue allows.

Sunday, the final day, there will be a public gathering, which includes taco trucks, presentations to the judges and an award ceremony. The prizes do not have monetary attachments, but are instead intended to give the teams further resources to continue work on their individual start-ups, including things like free logo design or rent-free space to work at Chicostart.

The most significant prize, however, is the opportunity to participate in the Global Startup Battle, as that event requires participants to place in the top three at their local Startup Weekend event. Ultimately, it could lead to recognition and substantial prizes on an international scale.

The event is open to people of all ages with tech or non-tech start-up ideas or other skills that could be beneficial to a start-up team. Interested students or community members simply need to purchase a ticket and be ready to participate during the entire weekend.

Christine Zuniga can be reached at [email protected] or @kissssteen on Twitter.