Having watched (ExitEvent contributor) Mital Patel do this several times over the last few years while he reanimated the dormant event here in the Triangle, I know there's way more that goes into it than meets the eye.
There are ultimately hundreds of people involved, many of them on board for the full 54 hours straight, and they'll need to be fed, they'll need to rest, and most of all they'll need to make something tangible out of an idea, the lure of a good pitch, and a solid WiFi connection.
In full disclosure, we're into that sort of thing, so we're here to help. ExitEvent is a community sponsor of the November 15th - 17th Triangle Startup Weekend in Chapel Hill, and our November Startup Social is scheduled for the following evening -- although in downtown Raleigh, but hey, at least you get a good night's sleep in between.
For this Startup Weekend, Mital has handed the lead duties over to Avani Parekh, who has been involved with TSW for a while now.
"I got pulled into Startup Weekend when I was living in India last year," Parekh said. "I started by observing the demo day, and then at the next one they had in Delhi, I got pulled onto the organizing team, ended up participating, and won first place."
So, you know, it's in good hands.
When she came back to the States, Parekh reached out to Mital and the rest of the organizing team, and helped organize the July Triangle Startup Weekend at Underground @Main in Durham. Now she's taking the lead for the Chapel Hill event, having also just returned from the UP Summit in Iowa with Mital and Groundwork Labs/NEXT's John Austin.
There's the obvious reason to bring a Startup Weekend to Chapel Hill, as you have to hit the third leg of the Triangle at some point. But Chapel Hill, outside of UNC, has lagged behind Durham and Raleigh in the Triangle startup... rush? Anyhow, having lived in Chapel Hill for over 10 years, including running a business here, I've always thought the town could and should be a bigger force in startup.
Now's a pretty good chance to get the uninitiated involved.
"I feel really supported on campus. There's already a lot of interesting initiatives going on at UNC," she said. "Our event is coming at the tail end of Global Entrepreneurship Week at UNC. Mayor Kleinschmidt is coming to speak on Sunday. Also the chamber and the town have supported the event."
"The community at large doesn't really know about Triangle Startup Weekend," she continued. "Outside of the campus it feels like we're doing a lot of education about what Startup Weekend is in general. In Durham, everyone kind of knew about it. Some of the people participating had been to seven Startup Weekend events before. Durham's a little more active and people get involved."
Both Parekh and I are curious to see how this turns out. I expect a lot of students and some Durhamites at this Startup Weekend, and it's my hope that a lot of Chapel Hill residents turn out as well, get involved, and maybe make something awesome in 54 hours.
The support that is there is pretty solid and a good indicator of the momentum that Chapel Hill can build on. The event will be at the UNC Student Union, which is vibrant, active, even at night, and there will be rooms with projectors, a technical advantage which will hopefully keep the area from being plastered with giant sticky notes.
"We have a few more speakers this time," Parekh added. "We're looking to spread out the speakers over the course of the event. In the Underground space we could kind of stay there all night. We aren't able to do that in the student union, so we'll have after-hours lounges and workspaces at Launch Chapel Hill and 1789 with food and beer."
Who knows, maybe Chapel Hill will get six or seven brand new startups out of this, and maybe they'll stick around. Parekh points to a couple success stories from the July Startup Weekend.
"SnapBuddy -- the winners -- I'm not sure they're moving forward, but some other teams have been out and about. The nutrition solution with Google Glass is moving forward. And Vouch, which won third, is moving on with the NEXT program and is in pre-launch."
To get involved with Triangle Startup Weekend, register at the site and show up on Friday, November 15th. You don't have to stay for the entire weekend, but you should. If a weekend is too much to give up, make sure to attend the presentations and the after-party on Sunday.