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September 2, 2014
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Vail Daily column: Ideas bubble up at startup weekend

For those of you who don’t know what a startup weekend is, it is a semi-competition, more of an event really, where people gather, pitch ideas for new companies and groups form to piece together what I call a feasibility plan — all in 50 hours. As one person put it, “The plans that come out of this 50-hour session often take clients years to do.”

After 50 hours, each group pitches its 50-hour-old idea to an audience and judges in five minutes, then the team is in the hot seat while the judges ask questions.

Questions usually include:

• What is the potential market size, and how do you know?

• What makes your idea unique?

• How will you acquire customers?

• What are the revenues and costs?

• What would you do with a check for a $1 million today for your idea?

In Breckenridge Aug. 15-17, the first-ever startup weekend in the mountains happened. I can honestly say we were surprised and impressed by the turnout, the competitors and the organizers. It would have been considered a success with half the level of participation. All involved should be proud.

There were 60 people who attended the Friday night pitch-fest, which included 18 pitches. From there, six groups were formed including about 30 participants. The new businesses included everything from ways to improve regional cable service to new iPhone apps to a third-party approval for local nonprofits (which won).

A half dozen of 8150.co High Altitude Entrepreneurs from the west side of Vail Pass were present, including our own Luke Adelpia, who is entering the sixth grade this month.

It may not sound like much, but for the first event and considering how many people gave up a whole weekend in August, it is impressive and I think the concept has been proved.

MOUNTAIN-MADE BUSINESSES

This also plants the flag that there are entrepreneurs here in the mountains. While the tourism industry is important and vital to our economy, that doesn’t mean tourism is the only thing that is happening up here. I personally can’t wait to see how Summit and Eagle counties come together to do more.

The next startup weekend, led by Aspen organizers, will be in Glenwood Springs in the next month or so. It is called Startup Weekend EDU and is for high-school students.

Stay tuned for more information. If you want, you can check out the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/aspenstartup, or email 8150.co High Altitude Entrepreneurs at founders@8150.co (not .com).

Keep up the good work, mountain entrepreneurs.

Brad Bickerton is an attorney who works in Minturn.


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The VailDaily Updated Sep 2, 2014 08:54PM Published Sep 2, 2014 07:43PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.