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Startup Tucson event coming soon

Brittney Smith
Brittney Smith / The Daily Wildcat Justin Williams, CEO of Startup Tucson, speaks at an information session about Startup Weekend Tucson on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in the Science-Engineering Library. Startup Weekend will take place on Sept. 12-14, 2014.

Startup Tucson hosted an informational session on Tuesday evening to inform students about the goal of its event and to increase its outreach on campus.

Startup Tucson, an organization that creates a three-day experience for individuals who want to pursue entrepreneurship, is headed by chairman and CEO Justin Williams. The weekend-long event has both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term in seeing how far a business concept can go and whether or not it is even feasible; and long-term in regards to how Startup Tucson emphasizes community building among a group of people who may go onward to further pursue their original ideas.

Throughout the informational session, Williams described the weekend’s agenda.

“The goal is to be part of a catalyst of creative, motivated people trying to build something great,” Williams said. “In many cases, it’s getting the experience of what’s involved in building something great or terrible.”

The event will begin Friday evening at 5 p.m. and Williams said he anticipates having around 150 people in attendance. The evening will focus on people pitching ideas to each other.

“All throughout Saturday, you will [take] your assumptions and [begin] to validate them,” Williams added. “You will go out and interview your customers and find out what they think. You need to go out in the world and let go of your idea and let your customers begin to shape it.”

Williams compared the weekend event to the real world, as well as the university community.

“It is really a 54-hour abbreviated experience of what you will do in an incubator over five weeks or what you will do in the McGuire Program over a semester,” he said.

According to Williams, participants will prepare a presentation on Sunday. That same evening the attendees will go to the Rialto Theatre and begin Startup’s “Shark Tank,” Williams added. Startup’s “Shark Tank” is when the groups of participants present their ideas in front of investors, much like the reality competition series on ABC.

Past participants from Startup Tucson also spoke during the informational session and shared their personal experiences with the event. Stephen Ost, founder and CEO of Ufree, talked about the opportunity Startup Tucson gave him.

“I went to Startup Weekend, and I didn’t know anyone. So when I went there, it gave me that opportunity to put Ufree in front of those specific people who really help and push and motivate you,” Ost said. “My investors saw me present at Startup Weekend, and that’s when they approached us. It takes you to that spot and takes you further and further.”

CEO and lead technologist of Injected Media Dominique Villela said how he was able to get his business going because of the UA.
“My biggest client turned out to be the University of Arizona,” Villela said. “I had to dig in deep and make sure they were people [who would] support me. Little by little, I used my network at UA and made sure I was well known.”

The event takes place from Sept. 12 to Sept. 14 and costs $85 for registration. Startup Tucson is offering students a $35 discount with a promotional code.

“Part of what we are putting together here is a community,” Williams said. “[At] Startup Tucson, our mission is to create a culture within our community of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

—Follow Ariella Noth @sheba201

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