Thursday, February 28, 2013
When I tackled the story of Spokane’s innovation, beneath it all, there was a lot of pessimism and frustration. Could Spokane ever crackle with the enthusiasm and momentum of a truly innovative economy like Silicon Valley? Would young people stay and try to innovate in Spokane, or head off for swankier pastures?
One solution, a possible piece of momentum, was something called Startup Weekend. Here’s a snippet from the story:
Website developer Dan Gayle stands before 100 people in a Gonzaga University lecture hall, knowing that he only has one minute to make his pitch.
But for 20 seconds, he doesn’t make a sound. He just dances, shaking his butt, pumping his arms, with only nervous laughter and whoops from the audience as a soundtrack.
“I don’t dance. I’m not a dancer,” Gayle says. “I just let myself go free, swinging my arms around like what I think dancing looks like.”
Gayle is awkwardly dancing as part of his pitch at Startup Weekend. Startup Weekends are global phenomena that began in Seattle: engineers, marketers, designers and business experts gather together, pitch ideas, form into teams, and then have 54 hours to turn all that into an actual product.
Gayle’s idea, Busta Booty — an app that would use the iPhone’s internal sensors to track how much you’re dancing — was voted best overall at the September Startup Weekend event.
Gayle is 31, but most of his team was far younger. “I had all the young people, high school students, college students, and we were competing against professional business people,” Gayle says. “And I won. I kicked their butts.” And the job offers, he says, streamed in.
Only two have happened in Spokane so far, but Startup Weekend is inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Earlier last year, Luke Baumgarten, tackled Startup Weekend more directly. “Everyone gets five minutes. To summarize andadvocate for the previous 54 hours of work, you get a lousy 300 seconds," he writes about the final presentation. Since we published, startups like Pixel Buddy and Barter’s Closet, both made by sons of Spokane entrepreneurs, began at a Startup Weekend.
“The two communities that aren’t interacting will actually start interacting,” Noyes says.
Just want to watch? Don’t, Noyes says.
“Come and participate,” he says. “Everybody’s got a skill that could somehow be put to use.”