Writer: Samuel Horstman
Do you have an idea for an app, service or product that you want to explore? Get a chance to pitch the next big thing to top entrepreneurs and hear from the co-founder of one of the Internet’s most successful online marketplaces at the second annual Startup Weekend Las Cruces event Oct. 24 to 26 at New Mexico State University.
Jared Tarbell, co-founder of the online store Etsy and a New Mexico State University graduate, will be the featured speaker for the Startup Weekend event, which will take place at the university’s Arrowhead Park and will be sponsored by Arrowhead Center, Arrowhead Development Corporation, the city of Las Cruces, General Genetics Corporation, Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness, the New Mexico Economic Development Department, and many contributing sponsors.
A New Mexico native, Tarbell received a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from NMSU and co-founded Etsy, an online marketplace to buy and sell handmade goods, in 2005. Located in New York, Etsy was named one of the most valuable startups in 2013 by Business Insider. The company raised $40 million to expand its international reach in 2012, and was valued at $700 million. Etsy has more than a million sellers who made $895 million on goods last year, according to Business Insider.
Tarbell also opened a high-tech toy factory earlier this month in Albuquerque called Levitated, which manufactures intricate structures from paper and wood.
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of community leaders and entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. The nonprofit organization is headquartered in Seattle, but Startup Weekend organizers can be found in cities around the world.
Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams form around the top ideas, as determined by popular vote, and then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.
Participants include software developers, designers and people with a background in business, marketing and public relations.
NMSU graduate student Taylor Burgett participated at the first Startup Weekend Las Cruces event in 2013. Burgett, who is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering, won third prize with his team after creating an app to detect open parking spaces to save time finding the optimal parking at NMSU.
“Startup Weekend Las Cruces is an exciting and fun way to polish your skills,” Burgett said. “You can network with the local community and have a chance of making a real business.”
Burgett was one of several students who joined Studio G, the first university student business incubator in New Mexico, after participating in Startup Weekend.
Zetdi Runyan Sloan, program manager at Arrowhead Technology Incubator and lead organizer for Startup Weekend Las Cruces, said the purpose of the event is to create a strong culture within the community of entrepreneurship and innovation.
“A large part of our effort is just bringing the community together to build upon an already strong entrepreneurial community,” she said. “It’s an exciting event that is guaranteed to be taken to the next level with our lineup of special guests, experienced investors and serial entrepreneurs.”
Cost to attend Startup Weekend is $75 through Oct. 16 and $99 after that date. To register for Startup Weekend Las Cruces, or for more information, visit http://www.up.co/communities/usa/las-cruces/startup-weekend/4145. Students can attend for a discounted $50 entry fee. A limited number of scholarships and sponsorships are available for students and community entrepreneurs. For information about discounts, scholarships and sponsorships, contact Sloan at 575-646-7833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.