The Lewis College of Business is set to host West Virginia’s first Startup Weekend event Friday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, Nov. 15, at the Robert C. Byrd Institute in Huntington.
Startup Weekend, which is funded by Google, is an intense, action-oriented 54-hour event where anyone interested can pitch a startup idea and work with a team the entire weekend to build a new venture. The partnership with Google and UPGlobal is part of a coordinated effort to boost startup rates in West Virginia, which has the lowest new venture startup rate in the U.S. according to a 2012 study by the Kauffman Foundation.
The event, which is open to the public, will feature keynote speaker Bill Lockhart. Lockhart is a Marshall alumnus and founding partner of SoftWear Automation, a startup that is automating apparel manufacturing with the use of robotic sewing technologies. Launched three years ago, SoftWear recently raised $3 million in venture capital and was funded, in part, by a $2 million grant from The Walmart Foundation and a $1.25 million grant from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
The weekend culminates on Sunday evening, Nov. 15, with all teams pitching their ideas to a team of judges that will include representatives from Tri-State Angel Investors, area entrepreneurs and commercial bankers.
Since 2012, the Startup Weekend program has generated more than 500 startups with over 15,000 participants worldwide. Teams have even started to generate revenue during the event, and others have even gone on to raise funds from business “angels” or venture capitalists. None of these numbers take into account the networking, ongoing professional relationships, and learning that takes place at every event, said Dr. Jonathan Butler, assistant professor of management at Marshall.
“Startup Weekend’s motto of ‘Build Community. Start Companies. No Talk. All Action’ perfectly illustrates what Marshall’s entrepreneurship program aims to do,” Butler said.