Entrepreneurs are learning how to turn ideas into prototypes at a workshop on Bozeman. We went to Startup Weekend Bozeman to find out what it's all about.
MSU College of Business student Robert Slone looks at the costs that go along with a Punchcard App., a way to simplify a wallet full of loyalty cards for different businesses. It wasn't his idea but now he's on a team that hopes to turn the app into a reality.
"To go through the process and create a complete, working business model. Ideally, you would have a prototype but it doesn't always end that way. The idea is you would have all the kinks worked out so, instead of, 'I have this strong idea, I have this strong idea that has this foundation to it,'" explains Slone.
Slone signed up for Startup Weekend to to connect and learn from other entrepreneurs.
"People who are entrepreneurs are almost difficult to find, even at the college," says Slone.
He walked us through the weekend. From the first day, when folks pitch and vote on ideas to the brainstorming process.
"You say what we like, what we don't like and then you try to break it down into a product that actually works, the minimal viable product," Slone says.
They use market research and surveys to get feedback. On the last day, teams pitch their ideas to mentors and venture capitalists.
"There's a possibility of it getting picked up and if not, that's not what matters. It's about the wonderful experience that comes with it," says Slone.
Startup Weekend recently merged with Startup America to create Up Global. Organizers tell us, to date, they've engaged with more than 100,000 entrepreneurs and this year alone, 80,000 entrepreneurs will go through Startup Weekend.
"We passionately believe that entrepreneurship will change the world and is changing the world," says Startup Weekend Bozeman Facilitator Dan Cromer.
Cromer traveled from Seattle to work with Startup Bozeman entrepreneurs. He tells us he formed his own startup business at a Startup Weekend and says the weekend is about about experiential learning.
All of the mentors are Bozeman locals who have experience starting their own businesses but mentors don't tell teams how to make it work. Instead, they help teams ask the right questions so they can guide themselves through the process.
While a lot of the startups formed won't make it, Cromer says, that's not a bad thing.
"Our goal here is not actually to form startups, although, that's what we're doing. Our goal is to get people the experience of doing customer validation and building minimum viable products so that the next time they do that in the real world, they will actually have that experience to be successful," explains Cromer.
Of the 12 teams at Startup Weekend Bozeman, Cromer says less than three will still be in operation three months from now. Six months from now? Even fewer.
There are over 20 Startup Weekends happening this weekend alone with over two-thousand participants, from Athens, Greece to Athens, Ohio.