Hub101's Startup Weekend Conejo Valley electrified the local startup community once again! The three-day event is always full of energy, and 2022 was no different!
Startup Weekend is a 54-hour, immersive experience into the world of startups. Participants form teams, develop a startup idea, build new skills, get inspired, and connect with other passionate individuals. On the final day, teams present their ideas to judges for feedback and the chance to win prizes.
Want to learn more about Startup Weekend is?
Check out this short blog or this 1-minute video.
This year, we had quite a few Startup Weekend first-timers, in addition to Hub101 members, entrepreneurs in our community, and students & alum from Cal Lutheran and UC Berkley, and high school students from Thousand Oaks High School and Newbury Park High School.
Day 1 (Friday):
Startup Weekend kicked off at 6PM at Hub101 with food and networking. Our facilitator, Navjot Brar, then welcomed everyone and gave an overview of the weekend.
This year, we had the pleasure of welcoming Joshua Janik, a Cal Lutheran alum, to give a short keynote. Janik was one of five recipients of the first Steven Dorfman Incubator Grants — a total of $180,000 of non-dilutive funding to help four alumni and a professor launch their startups.
Janik's startup is A Fox and His Robot, a video game Janik began working on as a computer science major at Cal Lutheran. A young fox and his robot search for meaning in a beautiful yet dangerous world and escape the grip of powerful Artificial Intelligences in this 2D action-platformer. The game will launch on Steam and Nintendo Switch later this year.
Janik, who also participated in Cal Lutheran's New Venture Fair as a student with his video game startup, shared his journey as a founder and encouraged Startup Weekend attendees to continue to seek opportunities to test their ideas and leverage programs like Startup Weekend to stay inspired and get connected to valuable resources.
With Janik's inspirational words buzzing through the group, we then launched into a game called Half-Baked where people shout out words (any words!) and the organizers write them down. Then, participants are grouped into teams, and each team selects two words. The countdown starts and teams have 10 minutes to come up with a business idea using those two words, in addition to a business name and a logo.
Some word combinations included music & backyard, bottomless & airplane, and racecar & bubbles.
The goal of half-baked is to get people's creative juices flowing and also to demonstrate that it's easy to come up with a startup idea (success lies in the execution)!
Feeling creative and confident in their ideas, the main part of the evening begins: Pitch Fire.
During Pitch Fire, people share the actual startup idea(s) they're interested in pursuing over the weekend. Individuals who have a startup idea, walk up to the mic and have 60 seconds to explain their idea and what qualities they need as team members. Everyone else listens to the ideas and makes note of which one sounds the best to work on.
Once everyone has shared their ideas in Pitch Fire, all attendees get three votes to spend on their favorite ideas. Organizers tally the votes and select the top 5 ideas with the most votes, which then become the ideas people form teams around (though it's typical for ideas to change and teams to pivot over the course of the weekend!)
By Friday night, people have formed teams and started to work on their startup ideas.
Day 2 (Saturday):
Throughout the day on Saturday, teams continue to work on their ideas, join workshops on how to start a business, talk to customers, and create a pitch deck, and they also get out of the building and go talk to customers.
Our mentors also show up to give feedback and guidance, and answer questions. Another big thank you to our mentors this year! 👏
While Saturday is mainly spent solidifying the business and getting customers, there are still plenty of laughs and a ton of food.
Day 3 (Sunday):
Sunday is crunch time! Teams continue to work on the final aspects of their business, including developing a pitch deck. Then, teams practice their pitches in front of mentors for feedback.
Final presentations start at 5 PM and are open to the community.
We welcomed three incredible judges this year: Molly Strawn, Anthony Gonzales, and Jen Buzza.
Prizes included cash and dinner with Anthony Gonzales, a founder who successfully raised over $11 Million, and is now a business banker with First Republic Bank (dinner sponsored by First Republic Bank).
This year's teams consisted of: Werk Hous, SynStudy, Blend Together, and Lettuce Social.
Team Members: Ben Sottile (CalLu undergrad), James Coleman (UC Berkeley alum), Mahsa Ghaderpour (CalLu grad), Stu Penrose (Hub101 member)
There are downsides to working from home, but people don't know what other options are out there. Werk Hous enables customers to discover and book place to work from based on their needs, such as socialization, quiet work, or creative energy.
Werk Hous won Best Overall, which includes dinner with Anthony Gonzales, a founder turned business banker.
Team Members: Allan Tran (CalLu grad), Emme Corlew (Newbury Park High School), Mia Maher (NPHS), Molly Cao (CalLu grad), Olivia Armstrong (NPHS), Palmira Coll (NPHS)
The majority of students cram for a test the night before. SynStudy is a platform that helps students get answers to these last-minute questions from peer tutors.
SynStudy won Best Business Model.
Team Members: Emilio Mora (CalLu undergrad), Max Zadeh (Hub101 member), Sarah Zavala (CalLu undergrad)
Small businesses often don't have the time or resources to manage their marketing. LettuceSocial is a marketplace that connects small businesses with local social media creators who can authentically represent their brand, and enables small creators to make money while building their personal brand.
LettuceSocial won Best Customer Validation.
Team Members: Hanna Hernandez (Hub101 member), Naomi Mbise (CalLu undergrad)
75% of Americans never, barely, or occasionally eat healthy foods. Blend Together provides nutritious meal replacements personalized for you to sip now or later.
Blend Together won Best Design.
Startup Weekend Conejo Valley Sponsors
Startup Weekend Conejo Valley wouldn't be possible without these incredible supporters:
The Steven Dorfman Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship ("The Center"):
The Dorfman Student Competition Fund enables us to host competitions like Startup Weekend and provide the best experience to participants, including food and prizes. This year, participants each received $50 cash prize for winning the various Startup Weekend awards.
First Republic Bank
Early-stage startups have unique needs, and First Republic Bank has business banking options made for these young companies. https://www.firstrepublic.com/innovators/solutions First Republic Bank is the sponsor of the dinner prize with Anthony Gonzales.
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