The Greater Cincinnati startup community is focusing on female entrepreneurs with Startup Weekend Women’s Edition
Organized by the all-volunteer UP Cincinnati
team, the 54-hour marathon event brings together designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts to develop and pitch a startup idea, with a focus on connecting and showcasing the talents of female entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.
UP Cincinnati is part of the UP Global network, promoting entrepreneurship, grassroots leadership and community development in cities around the world. Programs include Startup Weekend, Startup Digest and Education Entrepreneurs.
“Startup Weekend is encouraging ‘edition’ events, specialized events for women, healthcare, education and many other areas depending on the unique traits and needs of a particular city,” says Startup Weekend organizer and Casamatic
co-founder Alex Bowman. “We identified (female entrepreneurs as) an opportunity to potentially grow diversity in the Cincinnati entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
The tech industry has come under scrutiny recently for the lack of inclusion in the workplace. Encouraging women entrepreneurs with female-focused startup weekends is a relatively new development for UP Global.
“I think the industry as a whole is challenged,” Bowman says. “We’ve made great strides in Cincinnati already with amazing, established groups like Girl Develop It
and Bad Girl Ventures
. We hope that Startup Weekend Women’s Edition encourages more of this.”
Although the startup community often focuses on technology, Startup Weekend welcomes ideas for products and services as well, according to Bowman.
“Any and all ideas are encouraged,” he says. “And even if you don't have an idea, that's OK — come and listen to the pitches on Friday night and decide which idea you want to work on over the course of the weekend with a team. Remember, it’s about the experience building the startup, not the idea itself.”
The schedule for the weekend is intense, starting on Friday with idea pitches, team selection and role assignments. On Saturday the teams will continue their work, meeting with coaches and mentors throughout the day. The event culminates Sunday with final presentations and judging. Supplies and meals will be provided to registrants.
“We just ask that participants come ready for a challenging but exciting weekend,” Bowman says. “It can be exhausting, but it’s a ton of fun!”
Bowman and colleagues have recruited what he calls a “dream team” of coaches and judges from the Cincinnati startup community.
“Our coaches will be spending time with all of the teams on Saturday, helping them by drawing on their own personal experiences at their startup,” Bowman says. “Our coaches include the likes of Candice Peters and Amanda Kranias from Hello Parent, Becky Blank and Amanda Grossmann from Girl Develop It, Emily Cooper from The Brandery and many more. We are fortunate to have for our judges Wendy Lea (CEO of Cintrifuse), Johnna Reeder (CEO of REDI Cincinnati), Joan Lewis (former SVP of Procter & Gamble) and several others. We’re so excited to have all of them participating and helping out.”
In order to participate in the weekend — hosted at UpTech
in Covington with lead sponsorship by Kentucky Innovation Network
is required and spaces are limited. Student discounts are available. Men are welcome to attend, according to the event website, “if they find a female participant to bring them along.”
See a video trailer for Startup Weekend here
For startup enthusiasts who aren’t able to commit to the entire weekend, a special ticket for the Sunday presentations and judging is also available.
This will be the eighth Startup Weekend presented by UP Cincinnati and its second special “edition” event, the first being the 2014 Open Data Cincy weekend. Past events have drawn hundreds of participants, and Startup Weekend alumnus Tixers
went on to join UpTech and was recently acquired by Florida-based OneUp Sports.
Startup Weekend’s “regular” edition will return in November.