In Februrary 2012, I joined Rackspace as a software developer. I had uncertainty about my move from Orlando, FL to small town of Blacksburg, VA. Ultimately, the energy and enthusiasm of Rackspace and the Blacksburg community won me over.
I’m passionate about two things: technology and startups. So I wanted to help build the entrepreneurial and software development communities in the region. Having attended Startup Weekend Tampa in 2011 I know what a Startup Weekend event can do for the community. So I decided to organize one in Blacksburg.
The Startup Weekend format is a weekend-long, hands-on experience where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if startup ideas are viable. On average, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, the other half have business backgrounds. Startup Weekend encourages people to work together on a project establishing a stronger bond than attending a technical talk, or a social mixer.
In order to put together a successful event I knew I would need help. Luckily, Rackspace is filled with smart people that get things done, so it made sense for me to reach out to another Racker at the Racksburg facility with an entrepreneurial passion and community ties, Brian Hazzard. Together, we decided on a date and started working fervently towards that goal. Since this was a community event, and not a Rackspace event, we wanted to include a community leader in our organizing team. To that end, we recruited Derick Maggard, Director of the Roanoke Blacksburg Technology Council, to round out our team. Derick leads the largest technology community in our region that is considered a catalyst for innovation, inspiration, success, and leadership.
One of the aspects that Startup Weekend likes to boast is a fully catered weekend along with snacks, drinks, and swag for attendees so they can chug away on their projects with minor interruption. To make this possible we needed money. Rackspace was a key contributor offering their facility, drinks, snacks, prizes, and t-shirts for everyone who attended the event. In addition, TechPad, a co-working space in Blacksburg offered sponsorship, and prizes for the top teams at the event. Other notable sponsors who helped make the event possible included Montgomery Country Economic Development Department, Heyo, and CIT GAP Funds.
With the help of a killer organizing team, a great group of sponsors for the event, and an excited community the first Startup Weekend in Blacksburg, VA was held on September 14th, 2012. The event was a huge success boasting an attendee count of more than 100. Startup Weekend Blacksburg had people from around the US in attendance including Seattle, DC, Austin, and Roanoke. Leaders from Virginia Tech and local startups mentored the attendees who created some amazing ideas in just 54 hours. A few of the teams formed at Startup Weekend Blacksburg even attended competitive pitch events just weeks after the event (Small Bucks, Big Bang and Distilled Intelligence).
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the event and hope to do more with the community in Blacksburg.Category: Events Tags: Blacksburg, Racksburg, Start Ups