Kansas Startup 2015 quickly approaching

Kansas Startup

By Diane Gasper-O'Brien
University Relations and Marketing
Hays, Kan. -- In an effort to promote entrepreneurship in western Kansas, Fort Hays State University's College of Business and Entrepreneurship is hosting its fourth Kansas Startup, set for Nov. 13-15 on the FHSU campus.

Registration fee is $75, which includes meals. Scholarships from Commerce Bank are still available for applicants to pursue.

"All you have to do is come with a laptop and be ready to create," said Henry Schwaller IV, instructor of management and marketing and the main facilitator of Kansas Startup.

"People come together and share good ideas and form teams around those ideas," he said. "Then they create something that works and is meaningful."

Kansas Startup is the largest startup event of its kind in the state of Kansas and had nearly 50 participants last year. Schwaller said he expects a similar turnout this year.

Participants spend 48 hours over the weekend building businesses with the support of facilitators and judges. After hearing business ideas the first night, participants form teams to build the businesses, which then are judged on the last day. Winning teams take home prizes of money and professional services.

Kansas Startup is a takeoff from a global non-profit entrepreneurial event based in Seattle, Wash., from which local organizers around the world sponsor their own events following the same pattern of hands-on entrepreneurial innovative activities in one weekend.

Schwaller attended a startup weekend in Columbia, Mo., in 2013, and thought "we have to do something like this."

With support from Dr. Mark Bannister, dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Schwaller developed FHSU's own startup weekend.

"We thought there were some things we should do that are unique to Kansas," Schwaller said. "The global startup weekend has its own model of doing things, and we realize the needs of entrepreneurship in western Kansas are much different than those in metro areas."

The program now has the opportunity to support ancillary activities following the weekend, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation in Logan that FHSU received this past summer.

"We have an entrepreneurial coordinator and seed capital for those who are worthy and ready to go to the next stage," Schwaller said. "We have some resources to provide them with technological expertise to take to the next level."

That entrepreneurial coordinator is Andres Torres, who will be on hand for Kansas Startup 2015, as will Bannister and several FHSU faculty members.

"This is great for people thinking about starting a business or non-profit," Schwaller said, "or making a difference in their community."

To register and for additional information, visit the Kansas Startup website at www.kansasstartup.com.

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