By Brian Brus
Courtesy of The Journal Record
NORMAN – Entrepreneurs, marketers and business strategists will gather Friday at the University of Oklahoma Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth for Startup Weekend to create something that hasn’t been created before.
The event is part of a nationwide push by the nonprofit Kauffman Foundation to develop a network of leaders that will do more than merely create economic activity – it will also inspire, educate and empower, center Executive Director Jeff Moore said. Unlike other regional- or technology-focused support events, Startup Weekend embraces a wide spectrum of interests and innovations, he said. The Kauffman Foundation said about half of past Startup Weekends’ attendees have experience in technical or design industries; the remaining ones tend to come from business development backgrounds.
This is OU’s third year to participate in the series. Moore said past Startup Weekends have met their goals admirably even as OU organizers refine the event. The first year drew about 35 people; early registrations suggest at least double that attendance this year.
“This is members of the community, faculty and students all coming together to propose new ideas for new businesses, and even take action that weekend to build a prototype, to get moving and get it launched,” he said. “It truly captures the entrepreneurial spirit in the Oklahoma City metro area.”
Technology support and business startups have become an important source of revenue for schools across the country as intellectual properties are leased for development and profit. Most big universities now have their own version of a Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth. Those new businesses also spin off others that stay close to campus, further driving an innovative economy. Moore said Startup Weekend, however, isn’t expected to produce intellectual properties for OU; the school is merely providing an umbrella this time.
In previous years, the OU event has led to the development of ideas ranging from retail iPhone applications to plumbing services to food delivery. A lot of ideas focus on software development because it’s easy to whip up a prototype so quickly, Moore said.
“They’re welcome to do whatever they need to do to launch this as far as possible,” he said. “But our department is designed to help entrepreneurs and technologies reach commercialization, so they’re welcome to come to us and benefit from our normal day-to-day functions, or they can set out on their own.”
Startup Weekend culminates in a pitch competition, in which a panel of judges will vote on the best idea for a prize of $250 in services. For a $40 registration fee, participants get access to networking sessions and meals for the weekend. Students with a valid student ID pay $25.
The event will take place on OU’s Research Campus at 201 David L. Boren Blvd., suite 100. For information and registration, visit ou.startupweekend.org.