Over a span of 54 hours at Buffalo Startup Weekend, ideas for new businesses are set in motion, culminating in pitches to judges.
But organizers want to produce a more lasting impact from the participants' intense schedule of hard work.
"This year, we really want to put an emphasis on encouraging teams to continue to work on their ideas after the weekend is over," said David Brenner, a Buffalo Startup Weekend organizer and a co-founder of Thimble.io. The eighth edition of the event is set for Friday through Sunday, at Hayes Hall on the University at Buffalo's South Campus.
Organizers hope the winning teams will stick with their plans, take advantage of follow-up support, and establish themselves as startups. The prize packages reflect that longer-term thinking.
The first-place team will receive a package including $2,500 worth of legal advisory services from Colligan Law, $1,500 worth of advisory accounting services from Lumsden & McCormick, a one-hour consultation with an entrepreneur-in-residence at Launch New York, and consulting and other services from OneTen Capital. The first-place finisher will also get a seat in an entrepreneurs program at the UB School of Management, custom-branded tablecloths and banners from FB Displays and Designs, a mention at the 43North finals and six free months of co-working space at Dig.
Each of the top three teams will receive a one-year membership in the Western New York Venture Association, a paid dinner with the Buffalo Startup Weekend mentor of their choice, and startup-oriented books.
Some past Buffalo Startup Weekend winners are active businesses, including Atinga Project, Buffalo Automation Group and Heads Up Display. Brendon Dever, founder of Heads Up Display, a wearable technology company, said Buffalo Startup Weekend was a "launching point" for its research and development.
"The validation, and connections to the University at Buffalo we gained put us first in line for grant funding we would go on to receive," he said.
Those grant funds allowed the company to hire an engineer and build its first prototypes. Heads Up Display went on to receive three additional grants from UB, he said.
Heads Up Display finished third in the 2013 edition of Buffalo Startup Weekend, and was a 43North semifinalist the following year.
Dever said Startup Weekend introduced his team to "a community I didn't know existed," that was willing to share "wild ideas."
Everything starts with the 54-hour weekend, with coaches and mentors on hand to help the participants.
"I would say this is one of the best crash courses in, what are the key factors you need to look at for starting a business?" Brenner said.