Building on success, Fort Hays State to host a 2nd Startup Weekend

03/05/14 hs/kb

HAYS, Kan. -- Fort Hays State University will host its second Hays Startup Weekend from April 4 to 6. Led by the university's College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Startup Weekend is an event designed for entrepreneurs to meet, share ideas and launch new businesses.

The three-day event is open to anyone with a great idea and the desire to make that idea a reality.

Startup Weekend "is a 54-hour, hands-on experience where anyone interested in starting a business can find out if startup ideas are viable," said Henry Schwaller, instructor of management and marketing and leader of the Hays Startup Weekend.

"Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their teams," he said. "Saturday and Sunday focus on developing the business idea and building a viable product. On Sunday evening, teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts."

FHSU hosted its first Startup Weekend in November 2013, and the response was overwhelmingly positive, he said, with 31participants, including FHSU students and alumni, pitching 15 business ideas and forming teams to transform those ideas into six unique businesses.

Schwaller said that the success of the first Startup Weekend in rural Kansas encouraged FHSU to host another one.

"The response to our first Startup Weekend was incredible," said Schwaller. "All participants had a great experience and asked us to host another event as soon as possible. Teams worked Friday evening to Sunday evening, and several worked with few breaks and little sleep. FHSU faculty, alumni and local business owners provided input, suggestions and advice to the teams as business plans were developed. The event was challenging -- and it was fun, too."

FHSU President Edward H. Hammond will greet participants on April 4, and a successful entrepreneur will welcome and challenge participants. On Saturday, a volunteer team of business, legal and design coaches will be available to provide assistance, advice and feedback to all participants.

The event concludes on Sunday evening, April 6, after participants present their business plans to a panel of judges.

Participants must register. Partial scholarships will be available on a competitive basis for college students. Participant presentations will be open to the public free of charge at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 6. Judging and awards will begin at 6 p.m. Events will take place in McCartney Hall on the Fort Hays State University campus.

Ticket prices range from $25 for student non-technical, designer and developer participants to $50 for non-student developers, designers and non-technical participants.

Developers are software engineers, coders or developers or anyone who wants to participate by writing code. Designers are anyone with a background in design, and the non-technical category is for people whose backgrounds are in business, marketing, public relations or who have other non-technical expertise. Students in these categories must present valid student ID.

A $25 ticket is also available for people who only want to attend Sunday's demonstrations. Participants who have full-access tickets do not need to purchase this ticket.

For additional information and registration, visit the Hays Startup Weekend website:

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over a thousand past events in 110+ countries around the world.

Startup Weekend is a global non-profit organization based in Seattle, Wash. Local organizers around the world sponsor Startup Weekend events that follow the same pattern -- 54-hour weekends of entrepreneurial innovation.

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