Krista Bea Jackson is the owner of Sugar Love Chocolates and the lead organizer for the Reno version of Techstars Global Startup Weekend, in which would-be entrepreneurs pitch and develop business ideas. The event takes place Nov. 10-12 at Greater Nevada Field. Tickets are $25-99. For information, visit http://startupweekend.org.
Who is eligible to attend Startup Weekend?
Anyone over the age of 13. That is a requirement, and that is pretty much it. We give discounts to students. We really encourage them to try it out. It’s practical learning. It’s not theoretical, how to start a business, it’s “let’s get it done.”
Who are you expecting?
This is our fifth year of doing Startup Weekend in the area. We’ve had everyone from a 13-year-old—who’s apparently planning on attending this year—all the way up into the 60s. We have all types of backgrounds, people who are in the tech and start-up scene, and who are fanboys of Elon Musk, all the way to people who just have an idea, and they don’t even know what it means.
Did you attend it yourself, when you were first starting out?
Yes, I helped organize a little bit. And then, I was hooked. That was 2013.
What did you learn that year?
It’s a great way to build a network, because you’re meeting people who also think it’s fun to do this for a weekend. Some of my best professional contacts are the ones I met and worked with that weekend. That was a great thing, because you’re actually working with the people. You find out if you actually want to work with them.
What happens during the weekend?
Friday night, everybody comes together and gets out the pre-jitters. We do little games and stuff like that, ice-breakers. And then you pitch an idea. You have 60 seconds to pitch an idea. … And then, what the crowd does, through a very democratic use of Post-its, is, we vote for our favorite ideas. We usually vote for three of them, and then whoever gets the most Post-its is basically the teams that go forward. … Saturday, we start at 8 a.m., and it’s—who are your customers, go talk to them, would they be interested in what you’re offering? Maybe you should pivot. What are your competitors doing? What are they doing wrong? … And that goes to midnight. It’s very intense. It’s a lot of work. It’s fun work, though, if you’re passionate about starting a business. And on Sunday, it starts again at 8 a.m. It’s polishing up your pitch. It’s making sure your business model is ready for the judges, and then the judging starts at about 4:30, 5 o’clock.
Have there been any notable success stories from past years?
If you look at the alumni that have come to our events, they’re the ones that are involved in [local wireless network company] Filament, and they’re the ones that are working for [local hardware development company] Breadware now, so it’s more about getting connected in the community and finding what you really like about start-ups.