Opportunity – Judging and Mentoring at Startup Events – Startup Weekend and More

by on July 5, 2012 in Events
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Embarke's Co-Founders Have Been Given Tremendous Opportunity to Give Back

Embarke’s Co-Founders Have Been Given Tremendous Opportunity to Give Back

First, I hope all of you are having an awesome 4th of July week (I think most of you are celebrating both weekends, since the 4th is on a Wednesday)!  No complaints about that, right?

In the spirit of this holiday, I’d like to share a little about opportunity and how this country allows us all to do and achieve whatever we’re capable of.  In particular, Bryan and I are dedicated to helping San Diego become more of an entrepreneurial center, and love to give whatever free time we might have to that cause.  Because of this, we’ve been given some incredible opportunities to help out along our travels while growing Embarke.

We’ve recently had the honor of mentoring and even judging at some startup events this year, have been interviewed a few times, and been involved in kicking off San Diego startup-centric programs.  Previous posts have covered mentoring Lean Startup Machine, running a 5-hour Customer Development Bootcamp, and proctoring at Microsoft’s DevCamp Cloud, but the past couple months have had us dive in with Startup Weekend, the Cloud Intelligence Conference, Microsoft’s Channel 9 Developer Network, and the Startup America Partnership.

Since we’ve recently launched a Private Beta into our API, writing about each of these events individually has unfortunately not been possible due to our limited time.  However, we’ve had some amazing experiences and really want to share them with you!

San Diego’s Startup Weekend

First up, San Diego’s Startup Weekend!  Bryan and I got to mentor all weekend, and I even had the pleasure of judging.  Startup Weekend, if you’ve never heard of it, is amazing.  Here’s a summary of what happens:

  • 80 people registered and gathered
  • 40 people pitched ideas (60-seconds each)
  • 15 ideas were voted up
  • 80 people converge into 15 teams
  • They have 54 hours (a weekend) to build that 60-second idea into a working product
  • They pitch their ideas and are judged and awarded

Truly, it’s an amazing sight to see.  People from various backgrounds, skills, and motivations show up and pull together for a whirlwind 54 hours.  Ideas shift as customers are validated, assumptions are proven right or wrong, and products are built.  The product at the end is many times very different than it’s 60-second-pitch cousin, and the amount of work these entrepreneurs get done in such a short period of time is always awesome to see.

Bryan and I spent most of our weekend at Co-Merge and had an absolute blast working with the various companies, met some new friends, and hope we were able to at least shed an ounce or two of insight into their products.

Startup Weekend has posted a couple hundred photos of the weekend here, as well as all of the pitches.  Additionally, for the first time at a Startup Weekend event, you can watch the judges deliberate on the final pitches.  I hope the video shows how difficult it was for us (Chris Corriveau, Chris Waldron, and me) to decide who the best products were…we were amazed by the quality and efforts of all involved.  It’s tough when you have 15 pitches to listen to, absorb, make sense of, and grade (in rapid-fire fashion)…then determine how they stack up against each other when it comes to execution, business model, and customer validation.  I think we used a good combination of actual hard numbers, discussion, and “feel” to make our top 3 selections!

Judge's Selections
Crowd Favorites
Qualcomm Labs
Context SDK Winners

Startup America Partnership

I spent a little time helping the folks over at s.co kick off the San Diego region.  Plenty of others were involved and I played a small role, but the launch event coaxed ~150 entrepreneurs out of bed at 9am on a Saturday to come hang out, eat some food, listen to great startup stories and ask questions of successful entrepreneurs.  We hope that the San Diego region will eventually be able to leverage Startup America (funded by the Case Foundation and Kauffman Foundation) in order to get San Diego Startups the resources they need to help them be successful.  Be sure to sign up to be notified of the next event!

Cloud Intelligence Conference

Microsoft asked us to be panelists at one of the sessions, in order to share our experiences with Embarke and deploying the product within the Azure Cloud framework.  For the most part, Bryan did all the technical talking and I tried to offer some value along the way.  Jury’s out on my success with that!  It was, however, nice to share our real-world experience with people who are in the shoes we were wearing not much more than a year ago.  There’s a lot of excitement building around Azure, and we were pleased to have been asked to be a part of sharing it!

Channel 9

As you may have noticed we’ve done a few things with Microsoft lately, and one of them was a video interview with Brian Loesgen.  Bryan and he discussed Embarke, Azure, and we got to demo our product.  Channel 9 is the video arm of Microsoft’s Developer Network (MSDN), and you can now watch Bryan’s interview and demo.


Photos of Startup Weekend (some courtesy Startup Weekend) and Startup America Launch Event are below:

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