From Nov. 9 until Nov. 11, Binghamton will be hosting a 54-hour competition giving prospective entrepreneurs the opportunity to win funding and resources to establish their own startup.
On Sept. 12, event organizers at the Binghamton Riverwalk Hotel & Conference Center officially announced that Binghamton will be hosting a Startup Weekend. During the event, participants pitch their ideas for a business model, the best of which is rewarded with cash to pursue the model further.
Omar Sanders, lead organizer of Startup Weekend Binghamton and a 2001 Binghamton University graduate, said the event will allow participants to develop as entrepreneurs.
“This event is designed to provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to really hone your skills and come up with a creative concept that will hopefully develop into a job,” Sanders said.
According to Sanders, Binghamton was chosen to host Startup Weekend by an organizing committee who recognized the city as a place where entrepreneurial activity could flourish.
Participants spend the first day pitching their business idea, and then vote on their favorites at the end of the day.
The top 15 participants get the next two days to develop their business model, with the assistance of veteran startup entrepreneurs and the participants whose ideas were not chosen.
At the end of the third day, the judges decide on the most innovative and well-thought-out business model. Many of the winning business models at former Startup Weekends were for web or mobile applications.
Startup Weekend Binghamton is sponsored in part by Binghamton University, Broome Community College, the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, the Binghamton Local Development Corporation and the Southern Tier Opportunity Coalition.
Ryan Yarosh, assistant director of media and public relations for Binghamton University, said BU is involved with Startup Weekend to encourage entrepreneurship.
“The intent of our involvement in Startup Weekend Binghamton is to build upon BU’s growing efforts to create a more entrepreneurial culture on campus and within the Southern Tier Region,” Yarosh wrote in an email. “Numerous departments, as well as various faculty and staff are offering support and assistance to make sure that Startup Weekend Binghamton is a success.”
Yarosh added that the University is working to make Startup Weekend Binghamton more accessible to students.
“This is an outstanding opportunity for our students and we encourage them to attend,” Yarosh said. “The student registration rate was intentionally set low so many students could participate and we are working to secure funds to offer a limited number of scholarships for students as well.”
Registration for students will cost $65, and can be completed online.
Kevin McLeod, one of the judges for the Startup Weekend and a professor of bioengineering at BU, said the significance of the event extends beyond the competition itself.
“The important thing here is the promotion of entrepreneurship, given the state of the economy it is important that the community do everything that it can to encourage young people to pursue an entrepreneurial career,” McLeod wrote in an email.
Philipp Ross, a senior majoring in bioengineering, won Startup Weekend Rochester with an app for online funeral shopping. He said participating in the event benefits students in a multitude of ways.
“I say to those who are concerned and don’t know what they’re going to do after college, and those who like new ideas, this is a great event to build a network of open minded people, which could lead to connections that will get you a job,” Ross said.
He added that students should not let the opportunity pass them by.
“It’s only 54 hours, and you’ll be more satisfied doing this than going Downtown,” Ross said. “It’s only one weekend.”