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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Startup event comes to UA

Bryon Keck

Courtesy of Nick Morin

UA students participate in Startup Weekend in September 2014. Startup Weekend comes back to Tucson for a three-day UA-exclusive event starting Friday in the Science-Engineering Library.

Startup Weekend, a worldwide competition for entrepreneurs, returns to Tucson this weekend for its first-ever faculty- and student-exclusive event at the UA.

While the competition was in Tucson in September 2014, it wasn’t exclusive to the university.

Startup Weekend will take place over three days in the Science-Engineering Library starting Friday at 5 p.m. The event is described by the InnovateUA website as a place “where students and professionals from the community representing all disciplines come together for an incredible 54-hour competition.” The website also describes the event as a combination of a hackathon and business competition.

InnovateUA, the host of the event, is “fostering a student-led culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,” according to the InnovateUA website. 

“You don’t have to go in with an idea,” said Nick Morin, director of InnovateUA. “If you just want to go to meet people or join a team, that’s definitely an option. Having an idea can sometimes be daunting. We’re not asking anyone to come in with a full-on business plan and proposal. The mentors, judges and speakers coming are all entrepreneurs themselves. They will provide an immense amount of support and advice.” 

Founder of NoteBowl and InnovateUA Andrew Chaifetz, who made a startup in college, will be speaking at the event.
Chaifetz said he will explain how he went through all the steps while still dealing with the difficulties of college, as well as share some tips and lessons that he has learned along the way. 

“I wish that there was something like this when I was a freshman,” Chaifetz said. “When I was in my dorm room working on my startup, I didn’t really have that support level or community.”

Stephen Ost, founder and CEO of UFree — an app designed to make choosing a time to get together with people easier, based on their schedules and live availability — will be a mentor at Startup Weekend.

“I know what the students and the startups need to succeed in this startup weekend,” Ost said. “I’m there to offer my expertise.”

On Friday night, students will pitch their ideas, and the top-20 pitches will be chosen. These students will then have others join their teams and collaborate together with them. On Saturday, coaches and mentors will help teams as they develop their ideas. On Sunday, teams will present their final product; the judging and awards will take place at 1 p.m. Further information can be found at, including how to register.

Students are encouraged to register for the event ahead of time, but they are allowed to show up and register at the start of the event.

“It’s really fun and it’s for any student in any department, as long as you’re interested in expanding yourself by making new friends and learning new things,” Morin said. “It will take you less than five minutes to sign up. It’s going to change your life, so take the opportunity now.”


Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.

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