City attracts startups

In an effort to encourage local entrepreneurial spirit, New Haven held its second annual Startup Weekend from Nov. 9 to Nov. 11.

The event, which was organized by the national Startup Weekend nonprofit organization to give locals the experience of starting their own business ventures, attracted around 120 community members. On Friday evening, participants were given just 60 seconds to present their entrepreneurial ideas to an audience that subsequently voted to determine the crowd’s favorite concepts. Participants then formed teams to develop the winning ideas over a 54-hour period with the ultimate goal of building creative technological working products and businesses. The best product at the end of the weekend was then deemed the event’s winning startup.

Following presentations Sunday evening, “Snagit Deals”, an application seeking to help users find the best daily deals, was announced the winner of Startup Weekend New Haven.

Mike Roer, one of the organizers of Startup Weekend New Haven and an instructor of entrepreneurship at Gateway Community College, said that the formation of new organizations is of great importance given current job shortages in the U.S. economy.

“The goal is to encourage more and better startups,” he said. “We have a great reserve of untapped talent, creativity and drive right in our own backyard; and if we give aspiring entrepreneurs encouragement and assistance, they can fulfill their dreams of creating a new company and at the same time create jobs for others.”

The event, which charged a $99 entrance fee, featured several expert coaches to assist in the product development stage. Despite its fledgling nature, Startup Weekend New Haven has already proved its potential to have a positive impact on the local community. ShugaTrak, an application that provides incentives for teenagers with diabetes to test their blood sugar, won last year’s event and has since grown into a viable business.

John Seiffer, a member of the Startup Weekend New Haven organizing committee, commented in a press release on the success of last year’s event.

“Last year in New Haven, we had 14 teams form over the weekend. A year later, two are ongoing companies and one has gotten funding from the state of Connecticut,” Seiffer said. “People who have an idea for a startup and those who have skills they want to contribute — developers, designers, marketers and business types — can all learn a lot and have a great time.”

Startup Weekend, which is headquartered in Seattle, Wash., touts itself as a “global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs” and has held similar events in around 100 countries.

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