The weekend of November 8-10, The Mill was bustling with innovation and inspiration. To walk in on the scene would’ve been eye opening – who knew Bloomington has so many aspiring entrepreneurs? Well, you could say that; but, in fact, we were banking on it.
The Mill, Bloomington’s center for coworking and entrepreneurship, is on a mission to launch and accelerate high-potential companies. To do this, there has to be an inspiring, collaborative environment with people, resources, and programming to support it. Cue: Startup Weekend.
The point of Startup Weekend is to create a space where people from all walks of life (from students to young professionals to experienced executives) can come together with a shared interest: to CREATE something.
Bloomington is full of creative and unique ideas – many of which can turn into viable businesses! Sometimes, though, starting is the hardest part. Startup Weekend helps our aspiring entrepreneurs take that first step and learn how to start a startup.
Since its inception, The Mill has been boosting Bloomington’s entrepreneurial scene by offering a physical space with access to mentorship, investors, talent, and collaboration with other like-minded entrepreneurs. In fact, just a short few months after its grand opening in November 2018, The Mill took the reins of Startup Weekend Bloomington and hosted its first Startup Weekend in March 2019. Bloomington’s 2019 Startup Weekend events were a huge success! From one event to the next, interest and participation doubled, and we’re carrying exciting momentum into 2020 for future Startup Weekends.
How It Works
Startup Weekend is a 54-hour entrepreneurial event that brings together the business-savvy, techies, and creatives of all ages to launch a startup in a weekend.
This year’s attendees ranged from high schoolers (with a 17-year-old on one of the winning teams) to undergraduate and graduate college students; from young professionals to those well into their careers, and beyond (including retirees). Where else can you get such diversity of experiences and perspectives together in one room with a goal to make something of it?
Starting Friday evening, people gather to pitch startup ideas, vote on favorites, and join teams. This is when participants choose the team and idea they’ll work on for the rest of the weekend. They also hear from experienced entrepreneurs, who come to share what they’ve learned along the way.
Saturday, teams work feverishly to create clear messaging, conduct market research, and master their final pitch. Leveraging Startup Weekend resources (like the business model canvas) and meeting with mentors (who have entrepreneurial and startup experience) sets them up for success.
Sunday is the big day! What the whole weekend boils down to. . . Demo Day pitches. The Mill fills up with people coming to see the teams present their final pitches to a panel of judges – local founders, experienced entrepreneurs, and successful business people – and compete for prizes.
Then, it’s time to celebrate everyone’s hard work! Switchyard Brewing (an all-ages establishment AND a business born out of a Startup Weekend Bloomington!) hosted and sponsored the official Startup Weekend Bloomington after party. Startup Weekend participants, mentors, judges, entrepreneurs, and other interested community members were all a part of the fun. Thanks, Switchyard!
We want to send a huge congratulations to ALL Startup Weekend Bloomington participants. Completing a Startup Weekend is quite a feat! And, it’s so worth it. Startup Weekend-ers gain entrepreneurial education, connections to talent, mentors, and investors, pitching experience . . . We could go on! Time to flaunt our winners.
Out of seven competing teams, these winners rose to the top.
1st Place: DataCat
DataCat is a platform for normal people to create and discover predictive business intelligence. They are building a robust web application that allows users to draw together multiple sources of online personal and public data to create custom predictive data analytics ‘recipes’. The goal is to empower everyday business operators and creative problem solvers with easy-to-understand abstractions of the math and code behind advanced, data-driven decision making.
Anyone interested in supporting them through talent, mentorship, or investment please contact [email protected]
Startup Weekend 1st Place team, DataCat, pictured with judges
2nd Place: Pro-nounCed
Pro-nounced is an online dialect coaching platform with a foundation in linguistic authenticity. The team is seeking a web designer, as well as mentorship. Interested parties can contact [email protected]
Startup Weekend 2nd Place team, Pro-nounced, pictured with judges
3rd Place: MIMIR
MIMIR is a self-contained “Mobile Conversational Agent” functioning without internet or network access. MIMIR operates with an extensive knowledge base that can further be augmented via domain specific cartridges (e.g. medical, technical, cultural) in more than 7000 languages. MIMIR delivers actionable and interactive content with a spoken-language interface and display on a designated mobile phone or independent hardware device.
Startup Weekend 3rd Place team, MIMIR, pictured with judges
Audience Favorite: NADA Wallet
The last award of the evening was chosen by the Startup Weekend crowd! The audience spoke by voting for their favorite pitch via a live, online poll at the event.
NADA Wallet is a memory form wallet that makes sitting on it more comfortable.
Startup Weekend Audience Favorite, NADA, giving their final pitch
Stay tuned for the next Startup Weekend Bloomington at The Mill March 2020! Dates to be announced soon.
Looking to get involved in the next Startup Weekend and join the organizing team? Email [email protected]
About Techstars Startup Weekend
Techstars Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Techstars Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos and presentations. Participants create working startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurs. The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education. Whether you are looking for feedback on an idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Techstars Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.