Mines Students Revive “Startup Weekend” to Spur Local Entrepreneurship and Networking
The Techstars Startup Weekend Rapid City on March 24-26 welcomes all who are interested in entrepreneurship. The weekend, beginning on Friday afternoon and running through Sunday evening, is comprised of brainstorming and ideation sessions, group business planning sessions, pitching, judging and awards.
A group of students at South Dakota Mines is working alongside staff, faculty and community members to host the Techstars Startup Weekend Rapid City on March 24-26 inside the Devereaux Library Makerspace on the Mines campus and at Elevate’s David Lust Accelerator Building (DLAB) on Main Street.
Startup weekends were successful annual events in Rapid City before the pandemic. John Barbour, a Mines student, attended two previous startup events and has since launched his own successful company, CounSil, LLC, now located in the DLAB. The business helps meet software needs for the Department of Defense thanks to support from the National Security Innovation Network.
Barbour says past startup weekend events were instrumental in his own current success, and he wants to see entrepreneurship expand in Rapid City.
“One of the big reasons I’m motivated to do this is that a lot of people think they don’t have a good idea that is worthy of a new business. Startup weekend changes your mindset. It helps you take a look at solving problems first and then starting a business with that solution,” says Barbour, a chemical engineering major at Mines and the president of the Innovation Club on campus.
Organizers say business ideas are welcome on any topic. “Some people come with an idea to pitch and many of the business ideas are created on the spot,” says Joseph Wright, associate vice president for research and economic development on the Mines campus.
The weekend, beginning on Friday afternoon and running through Sunday evening, is comprised of brainstorming and ideation sessions, group business planning sessions, pitching, judging and awards. “It’s the entire gamut of business creation, all in 54 hours,” says Wright. All ages are welcome, including high school students who have done well in the competition in the past.
Mines student Adan Rodriguez is helping to organize the event and will attend for the first time. He is excited to learn more about entrepreneurship.
“I don’t have a lot of general experience with business creation, so I am looking forward to taking part in this to build my skillset,” says Rodriguez, a mechanical engineering major and member of the Innovation Club on campus.
Winners for the weekend get in-kind services from local businesses that can help assist startup creation including local law-firms, accounting firms, Elevate Rapid City and others. “This helps anyone who is serious about starting a business make those next steps to see their idea come to life,” says Wright.
There is a $25 registration fee for students and a $50 fee for all community members. The registration charge helps off-set costs for meals and other expenses throughout the weekend. “We bring in food from our favorite local restaurants. Many think the food is the best part,” says Barbour.
Those interested in taking part in the event can register here.