Startup Weekend fosters business ideas in Breckenridge
Groups that participated in Startup Weekend are hoping to make their projects a reality.
More than 70 people attended the event this past weekend at Elevate Breckenridge, where people can network with Summit County business members and entrepreneurs. On Friday night, 16 business ideas were pitched and voted on. Teams were formed around five ideas that were picked by judges. Those five teams then spent the rest of the weekend working to create a business plan. After a final pitch on Sunday night, three finalists were selected.
The first-place team created a business plan for Tiny Pines, which proposes to use beetle kill pine wood to build kits for tiny homes.
Carl Johnson, who works for the water department in Breckenridge, worked with five others to refine Tiny Pines. Johnson said that the event appealed to him because of his interest in entrepreneurship.
“I thought that this was a great way to throw myself in,” Johnson said. “I feel that the way that big changes are made, it just seems like more recently conscious changes is partially through business, so I wanted to experience that part of it.”
Startup Weekend also has coaches in different fields helping teams with their projects. Johnson said that one of their coaches helped Tiny Pines send out a survey on Facebook to determine whether or not there was interest in the tiny house market.
“We took a lot of information from the internet to look at ‘Who is our customer?’ and also did a survey itself to be able to confirm that with outside friends, family and others,” Johnson said.
He also said he was worried going in because he did not have any technical skills to build websites. But coaches were available to help with creating sites, as well as financial budgets.
Johnson said that the Tiny Pines team hopes to continue working with the plan to try and make the business happen. Part of the process will include building a website at tinypinehomes.com. He added that he also would like to create a Facebook page that records the step-by-step process in creating a startup.
For Johnson, working with a team to create a final project was the most important part of the learning process.
“You know you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to screw up, but there’s all sorts of resources around you to help you, that was the biggest thing that I got out of this,“ Johnson said. “I think everybody learned a lot and there definitely will be some businesses coming from this.”
The second place team, Stocked, focused on creating a business that would deliver meals with locally sourced food and recipes to condos and vacation homes.
Jaime Harmon, who came up with the idea for Stocked, said hers was the only group that was able to create a full mobile app. The app allows guests to select how long they’re staying and how many people will be there. The team included options for pescatarians and vegetarians as well.
Harmon has been an entrepreneur in the area for the last 10 years. This is the first time that she tried Startup Weekend after joining the Elevate community seven months ago. She said that the way the event is set up helps to speed the process of creating a business in a team setting.
“It made such an incredible difference to be surrounded by other people who were talented and super excited about your idea,” she said. “One of the hardest things about starting your own business is being alone, by far that’s been my biggest struggle.”
Without the support from the coaches at Startup Weekend, Harmon said that it would be difficult to create a full business plan over a weekend. She said that she thinks her team would be able to launch Stocked as a true business, it would just take finding the time to do it.
She added that in the 10 years she has lived in Summit County, the atmosphere around entrepreneurship has changed quite a bit.
“I am so impressed with the growth in the entrepreneurial community between 10 years ago when I tried to start a grocery delivery business and today, and just the talent that is being attracted to Summit County,” Harmon said. “I think it’s because of things like Startup Weekend and the fact that we have these communities now that are fostering it.”
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