Companies all over the world are formed every day. From that fleeting moment of the idea, through the culmination of toil to bring it to life, entrepreneurs are often on a path with no edge, no direction and no sense of progress.
Startup Weekends were developed over seven years ago in Boulder with the intent to teach people how to start a company from scratch, leveraging disparate groups with diverse skills and the common goal of producing a viable business in just over two days.
That concept has been very successful, with over 1,000 events in over 400 cities throughout over 100 countries. However, the organizers of Startup Weekend (now managed by UPGlobal out of Seattle) realized that often those companies are essentially ejected from the process of continuing to build what was started due to lack of focus, direction, and commitment.
A New Startup Event
So, as many good entrepreneurs do, the founders developed a new product line from Startup Weekend – Startup Next. Startup Next is focused on providing a bridge from Startup Weekends to being “pitch ready” for accelerators.
That doesn’t mean only Startup Weekend people are in the program. Companies of all shapes, stages and sizes are welcome to apply and participate when chosen. UPGlobal has created a unique and impressive network within the accelerator community to be able to advance companies from Startup Next into opportunities with accelerators that are much better than just applying blindly.
Startup Next in Dallas: A History
Startup Next came to Dallas last fall as part of the inaugural roll-out. Of the 17 companies that applied, 10 were accepted. The teams progressed through the five week course and emerged more prepared and ready to stand in the real world.
The course is curriculum based and follows the Lean Startup Methodology. Pitches are worked on each week and information is refined through four key areas:
- Customer Development
- Building an MVP
- Product Development
With one group complete, the next Next was planned for the spring of 2014. Over 20 companies applied in the spring and 10 more were selected. The program was refined to incorporate more speakers with real world experience. UPGlobal added a competitive component, whereby the top selected team from each city (by then up to 17 cities) would be judged to advance to a two day session in NYC to pitch to 50+ accelerators from the Global Accelerator Network. Dallas startup, UChilla (led by Kathleen Ward) emerged as one of ten teams invited to NYC and she presented very well.
Startup Next: Recent Successes
Fall 2014 produced a smaller, yet interesting cohort of teams. Seven teams were selected to participate with wide-ranging ideas. A sixth week was added and TK Stohlman of local startup FanPrint came in and spoke with the teams about the accelerator process and things to shoot for throughout.
It was clear from the onset that all the teams were passionate to move their ideas/companies to the next level (pun intended). The seven teams were:
- Virtual Visit – an app designed to create a connection with loved ones in nursing homes. (***a Startup Weekend Dallas Winner***)
- Parqer – No cash? Use Parqer to pay for valet with a mobile device.
- Snappit – Simplifying the way to collect photos.
- MyStylePad – Do you struggle with what to wear daily?
- Boombox Toolbox – A toolbox for bloggers to connect with retailers and be compensated for content creation.
- Remote to PC – Cloud based IT command center for remote monitoring and remote support
- Plitto – The “plural ditto” – meaningful likes with context and interest
On the line for the fall class was a chance to be one of ten teams selected for a two day Silicon Valley experience in early 2015. The class finished earlier this month, and two teams from Dallas were selected to be judged to participate for the SV trip – Virtual Visit and Parqer. They will find out before the end of the year if they are selected to go.
Two other teams – MyStylePad and Snappit – were selected to present at December’s Dallas New Tech. All in all, the teams made amazing progress through the program and are well positioned for continued growth and evolution.
Startup Next will pick up again in the spring of 2015. The fourth installment is sure to be another bumper crop of applicants and selections representing the Dallas startup community. A strong base of mentors has been built and many will continue to help support the community going forward.
Stay tuned for more details!