What can you accomplish in one weekend? Could you build a new deck, replant your garden, or explore the contents of a museum? How about taking a fledgling idea and turning it into a company: constructing a business plan, finding developers, launching a product, and securing an opportunity for funding- do you think that all of that could happen in one weekend?
If not, then prepare to be amazed. Startup Weekend, a program run under the wing of the Kauffman Foundation, takes hundreds of inventors, developers, and business mavens and puts them in the same place. Participants choose which project ideas are worthy of their dedication and support, and then they try to make magic happen.
This isn’t just an exercise or an experiment. Each Startup Weekend gives birth to real companies and real success, and these events are sponsored all over the world. This summer alone will witness events occurring in Moscow, Munich, Brazil and Israel, as well as in other locations throughout Europe, the Middle East and the United States.
So what exactly happens at these events? Nicholas Bereza, a Bloomfield computer scientist and co-founder of NE Computer Solutions, was ready to find out. He was initially interested in Startup Weekend because he felt it provided the perfect model to attract and connect people who were passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation, and in his words, it “creates [an] environment where everybody wins.” Hoping to test his theory, he soon found the opportunity to try the program for himself.
On the weekend of June 3rd, Boston held a Startup Weekend at Microsoft’s NERD center, and Nicholas was there. On Friday, he listened to the minute-long pitches of those looking to build teams based on their ideas, and then he was one of the many participants who were recruited as team members. On Saturday and Sunday the teams worked on their product, plan and final presentation. Finally, on Sunday afternoon each group had the opportunity to submit their work to a panel of judges, who asked pertinent questions to determine how viable and dynamic each start-up really was.
Nicholas joined a group called CaseReportal. According to their Facebook page, CaseReportal “helps health care providers to more quickly and easily report and publish unusual cases, and to access information they would not otherwise have to improve diagnosis and treatment of atypical cases.” Ultimately, their goal is to furnish doctors with the tools they need to connect to their community and to give their patients the best possible care; offering “vital insights for atypical cases.” If this sounds like a good idea to you, then you’re not alone. CaseReportal won first place at Startup Weekend, and will be moving forward with their attempt to revolutionize how medical professionals record and collect their experiences.
Meanwhile, Nicholas Bereza hopes to establish Startup Weekend Hartford, and after such a great experience in Boston, who can blame him? He envisions Hartford as an Eastern mecca for technology, and explains that if the community supports innovative professionals in the right way, there’s no reason that this dream cannot become a reality. He points out that Hartford inhabits a prime location between Boston and New York, Connecticut is home to an incredibly educated population, and the state lays claim to some of the most impressive universities in the world. Not only is there no reason that Hartford shouldn’t become a hotbed for technological innovation, there’s no excuse for it not to.
So, let’s gather our ideas, share our insights, and each do our part to ignite Hartford’s entrepreneurial spirit.