Posts tagged ‘Startup Weekend’

Three is a Magic Number

Recently, I was able to hang out with a handful of wise, inspiring people who gathered to start something new, something desperately needed in South Bend. If you’ve followed my blog through Startup Weekend South Bend (SWSB) , what comes next will not surprise you. If you have not been an avid reader of my daily adventures during SWSB, then you might want to go back and catch up (just sayin’).

After attending a Startup Weekend, the hardest step is taking the NEXT step. What is the next step? How do I take that step? Where do I even begin? Those are just a few first questions after completing my weekend with my awesome team. Luckily, many from the Startup Weekend, and others–like the cool people at enFocus–have realized that we need a way to support and encourage each other. We need an avenue to connect to others that can help us at every scary turn.

I know, I said “scary turn.” Maybe for you brave readers, this notion of taking an idea and running with it seems easy. For me, it’s a BHAG if there ever was a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) in my life. And it’s scary – truly scary to me.

This is when three proves to be a magic number. Three fellow teammates who are still there to walk through the next steps. And, most excitedly, Three Degrees of Separation, a new meetup group that wants to foster a culture of entrepreneurship in our area.  This group’s goal is to inspire and connect people to the local “ecosystem, the community and to the world of start-ups.”

Luckily for those of us in the South Bend area, we are a close-knit community.  We have realized what that closeness affords us – that we are likely never more than three degrees away from success.

Need inspiration or just curious? Consider joining the Three Degrees of Separation MeetUp on Tuesday, December 4th from 6pm to 7pm at Main Street Coffee House (downtown South Bend). There will be a few quick speakers and then plenty of time to connect to other idea people, founders, angels, VCs and more.

I’m excited about the 3s in my life. Those 3s inspire, empower and encourage me. Do you have 3s?

3 d logo


November 30, 2012 at 8:57 am Leave a comment

Voting Closes Soon

I was blessed with an awesome team at Startup Weekend South Bend. We worked for 54 hours to make ConnectHelp a reality. Now we need YOU to vote for this idea on Facebook in the Global Startup Battle:

  1. Go to (you will need to like this page if you haven’t already)
  2. Vote (be sure to do this everyday until the 27th)
  3. Share with your friends (on Facebook, through tweets, etc.) and ask them to vote the one-stop resource connecting local human needs with local resources anywhere in the world. Let’s show the greatness that is MICHIANA – go and vote, then please ask your friends to vote. Keep voting every 24 hours until midnight (PST) on the 27th.

November 26, 2012 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Michiana Pride

We all know how amazing our community is – full of innovative, generous, compassionate people. And, most importantly, how we have come together to build a better community. We love our stories and the part that we’ve have played here. Now, your help is needed to show the world our greatness. Here’s what you can do (it’s pretty simple, but would mean a lot):

  1. Go to (you will need to like this page to continue)
  2. Vote (be sure to do this everyday until the 27th)
  3. Share with your friends (on Facebook, through tweets, etc.) and ask them to vote the one-stop resource connecting local human needs with local resources anywhere in the world. It’s time for MICHIANA PRIDE – go and vote, then please ask your friends to vote.

November 23, 2012 at 8:45 am Leave a comment

Vote for South Bend Idea in Global Battle

Your help is needed today and, really, all week. You’re thinking, “Seriously? It’s a holiday week.” I know. I know. But if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know that I attended Startup Weekend South Bend and that my idea has made it all the way to this Global Startup Battle (GSB). You’re thinking, “What is GSB? And why do I care?” Well, GSB ( is a competition “in an entrepreneurial battle of epic proportions.” Each city that hosted a startup weekend (approx. 120 all over the world) is battling for bragging rights (and other prizes). We, as in my amazing ConnectHelp team, just want our idea to gain validation by receiving thousands and thousands of votes. We are also excited by the opportunity to raise awareness of our website and idea. We want ConnectHelp to reach people all over the globe. But we will need your support to get there. In the meantime, could you please help us by:

  1. Taking time to vote today and everyday (or as many days as you can remember)
  2. Share the link with your friends on Facebook and ask them to vote as well
  3. Ask your friends to share it with at least 10 of their friends

Here’s how you vote:

  1. Go to: (you might be able to get directly to my video here:
  2. Click on “view entries” (you might need to LIKE this page before you can continue)
  3. Search for ConnectHelp (one word)
  4. Click the vote button the one-stop resource connecting local human needs with local resources anywhere in the world. If you think this is a good idea, please vote. If you think it’s a great idea, please ask your friends to vote.

November 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment

The Final Pitch

Day 3 of Startup Weekend begins with our awesome facilitator, David, reminding us of the day’s agenda and checking in to see if the teams have any last minute needs. We have six hours until our tech check. Doesn’t that seem like a long time? It’s not. It feels more like 38 minutes.

I’m not even sure what happened in those six hours. Last minute details. Phone calls. Pitch writing and re-writing and re-writing and re-writing. Lunch. Slides. Frenzied activities. Website polished (you know this isn’t me). Snacks. Tech check. Lipstick application. And, of course, final pitch. Who’s ready? It’s game time.

Guests are able to attend these pitches. My family arrives and I’m excited to have my own personal cheering section. Once you get a chance to meet my family, you’ll understand why.

After introductions and instructions, the pitching begins. You get 5 minutes and not a second more (so don’t even try). Team City Action goes first, followed by Keep It in the Bowl, then Switch Blade, and finally ConnectHelp (you got it, saving the best for last. ha!). Everyone rocked their presentations. Who won? We all gained exactly what Startup Weekend promised: education, empowerment and inspiration. We all made new friends. In our case, already has an online presence and is a viable website that will soon be helping people in our county (and hopefully not too far behind – helping people all over the world).

You’ll hear more about ConnectHelp soon (if you’d like to join our email list, click the logo below). In fact, in a week, I will ask you to vote for us in the Global Startup Battle. Not only will I ask you to vote, but I will beg you to reach out to your friends to vote as well. I was blessed with a brilliant team and they deserve to see this idea win. I couldn’t be more proud of the work they did.

I have a few random thoughts about Startup Weekend to share (should you ever dare to go and have your life changed):
1. Wear a great color (say, an orange sweater) and you’ll be picked to lead during Friday’s ice breaker.
2. Don’t be afraid to pitch your idea. It’s 60-seconds of your life. You may regret not doing it, but you won’t regret doing it.
3. Realize that you may not want to pitch your idea, but your name may get on the pitch list regardless.
4. You may miss out on some sleep over the weekend, but you won’t miss a meal (or snacks).
5. You will gain an even greater love for the talented, smart and generous people in your community.
6. While it was a competition, there was never a moment that another team wasn’t willing to answer questions or offer encouragement.
7. While you are gone all weekend, the laundry will not do itself.

If you ever have the opportunity to experience Startup Weekend South Bend, please do. You won’t regret it. You might be mad that you didn’t make a weekend sooner. Thanks for listening to me the last three days (if you missed Days 1 & 2, be sure to catch up on those).

Thanks to Grant, Laura, Phil and Jim for organizing this event. It was truly top-notch. Thanks to David for traveling from Seattle to facilitate our weekend together. Thanks to my brilliant team of Rowland, Chris and Laura for making my idea come to life in 54 hours. And thanks to every attendee, coach and judge for your enthusiasm and expertise.

I can’t wait to make a global reality. Give me a shout if you can help us in your state. Be a part of something amazing!

November 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm Leave a comment

Just as Good as the First

Day 2 of Startup Weekend was just as good as Day 1. Probably better. While Friday night meant meeting new people, enjoying an interesting and fun ice breaker and securing enough votes to have my idea chosen to be in the contest (who doesn’t like that, right?), Saturday was about getting it done. And that process was educational, crazy and exciting. Of course it helps having an amazing team. Somehow I was blessed with three brilliant team members (Laura Gekeler, Rowland Rose and Chris Weaver). Without each one of them, I would have been lost. Actually, I was lost. I was lucky that it was my idea or they could have kicked me off the team.

Time to set the scene for Day 2. The day begins with a run down of the tasks and assignments verified. Each team member plunges into their tasks. Laura leaves the building to work on customer validation. Rowland and Chris begin working their magic (I’m not a techie, so don’t ask me specifics). I try to figure out what I’m doing.

We realize we need a name. We also realize that finding a url that isn’t already registered is almost impossible. We get lucky. We can purchase Yay! Thanks to Rowland for this find. A little while later, as I’m thinking about our name, a logo idea comes to mind. That gets added to the white board. Chris takes that idea and turns it into the amazing logo that we have now. Yay!

The day continues with research, website development, phone calls, conversations and a frenzy of activities that are mostly a blur now. One of the highlights is the time with our coach, Michael Patton. He discusses funding, idea validation, and resources with us. And most importantly, he’s excited about our idea. His time with our group is so encouraging. We feel like we’re on the right track with a great idea. We are even more determined.

Suddenly it’s getting late. I’m exhausted. Chris and Rowland plan to stay a couple more hours, but I just cannot. Phil and Jim pitch in so I can get some rest. Yay! I leave, but the work continues. Did I mention how awesome all of these people are? (there are more to mention… like David and Grant)… Stay tuned for Day 3.

November 12, 2012 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

Why Startup Weekend?

Thanks to this blog and my desire to grow my connections in South Bend, I learned about Startup Weekend South Bend (thanks Grant!). I have to say that I’m sorry I missed the first one, but so thankful to be in a room of amazing people.

Let me set the scene for you. First, think about how intimidating it can be to go into a new environment alone. I asked a few friends to join me for this weekend, but was not able to find anyone available. With the encouragement of my husband, I chose to go without my usual support network. While I’m not particularly shy, this proposition was still a little scary. You know all those thoughts that invade your mind as you deliberate…Who are these people running this event anyway? As good as it sounds on paper, how will it really be?

Immediately upon arrival, as I meet a new friend, I am encouraged to share my idea. I have considered pitching one of my ideas (I have many), but think maybe I should just observe this time. Luckily, my name is added to the pitch list. When time comes, I use my 60 seconds to tell far too much about myself and the problem, but am somehow able to let my passion for this idea through enough to entice a few people.

The next step is truly exciting. Time to take a “post-it note vote.” Will I get any votes? As I see the post-it notes added to my idea, I’m stunned, amazed and overwhelmed. Are you kidding me? Might my idea make it? We’re not done voting, so anything can happen. Now it’s time to weed out those with the least votes and decide on just a few. I can’t possibly make it through to the end. I’m new. What do I know? What am I doing?

But, alas, I’ve garnered enough support. Now I’m even more stunned. Even more excited. Then I realize that the real work begins. I’m lucky enough to have amazing teammates (Laura, Chris and Rowland). We begin to work through the business model. We have many notes. We have a plan (at least a bit of a plan). I can’t wait to see where the rest of the weekend takes us! Stay tuned for more.

November 10, 2012 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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