UCC Mainstream Online

Startup Weekend transcending our community

John Blackwood, a UCC associate professor, is holding an award for being the winners of Startup Weekend with his group TreeShield. His team created a barrier to surround trees that would keep animals from eating them. They competed against eight other groups, including the student-led ENS team.
Cassie Bauer, in the purple shirt, led her team ENS at the 2015 Startup Weekend. Her ENS team was one of the top eight groups to go to the final round of the Startup competition. Bauer competed against the winning group TreeShield, led by her instructor John Blackwood. Bauer is a UCC CIS major.
Team Silly Saddles took the idea of a rocking horse and expanded it. The team wanted to design a child’s rocker that could be made into any design a child would want like a rocket ship.
Team Gutter-Juice made a design to sustain energy by using rain water from a house gutter. Startup Weekend entrepreneur teams included students as well as community members.
All photos provided by Kemberly Todd

On the weekend of April 24-26, a network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs gathered at UCC for the opportunity to create and pitch their own business plans in hopes of enhancing their community and the world.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour assembly of people who have interests in developing, designing, and marketing their own business ideas. These entrepreneurs get together over a weekend, create teams, pitch ideas, work on building products and compete for the grand prize of having their idea come to fruition. Startup Weekend is a global network powered by Google for Entrepreneurs with headquarters in Seattle. Over 1500 events have been held in 726 cities with over 13,000 business startups created, according to the Startup Weekend homepage.

Around 70 people participated in Roseburg’s Startup Weekend where 36 business startup ideas were pitched.  The weekend was free for UCC students and $75 to $150 for non-students.

On Friday, the beginning of the Startup Weekend, each individual stood in front of the crowd and gave a one minute pitch on their business or technical idea. The other attendees voted on their three favorite pitches by placing sticky notes on a white board next to the pitch presenters’ names. Cassie Bauer, a UCC Computer Information Systems major, created a team around her idea of an emergency alert app called the Emergency Notification System-USA. The ENS alerts whenever a natural disaster happens and shows where it is occurring. Her group had made it into the top eight teams competing for the grand prizes. Three of Bauer’s six teammates were fellow CIS majors.

Together the team created a slideshow to show the app and put their group and their ENS-USA app idea on social media pages like Facebook. Other groups used websites and statistics to show their ideas.

Another CIS major, Eric Mendenhall had also led his team, Visual Eyez, to the top eight teams. Their project was about making the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset designed specifically for video games, available for an educational use. His team accomplished many tasks, including discovering the costs and profits needed for the headset. Although they still have to figure out details about the Visual Eyes, like researching information for investors and getting the financial package developed, Mendenhall had an investor contact him after the second round of the competition where they competed against the other eight teams.

“I almost didn’t pitch. The fact is that it’s hard to demo what I’m talking about without the headset. The community headset was supposed to be out this summer, but it probably won’t be out this year. The Oculus Rift development kit is an amazing piece of hardware. I wanted to have someone be able to experience the software when I pitched it, but in the end I figured I’d do it anyway and ended up having amazing support and feedback,” Mendenhall said.

Other entrepreneur ideas pitched included the TreeShield, Silly Saddles, and Gutter-Juice. The groups were judged on their presentations, overall ideas, their group’s cohesion, and the amount of research they had done as well as the group’s ability to answer questions.

Local tech and startup leaders then gave input to the groups to help them improve and expand their ideas, and Sunday at 5 p.m. each group made their final pitches.

John Blackwood, UCC associate CIS professor and Bauer’s instructor, won the pitch competition for his TreeShield idea. He will now get free meetings with 12 coaches, a patent attorney and CEOs from local businesses.

Each person who participated received a goodie bag, a chance to meet new people, and chances to win awards. There was even a lip-sync battle! Bauer won an award for promoting Startup Weekend on Facebook.

Anyone interested in going to a Startup Weekend can attend. Not everyone needs to have an idea; they can show up to see how it works and get the experience. For those who are leery about going, Bauer said, “Just come! Even if it’s only for the first night, give yourself the opportunity to have the experience.”  

After going through the Startup Weekend, Bauer explained, “I learned a lot about Roseburg as a community; there is a lot of entrepreneur spirit and want to better the community.” Not only did she learn a lot about the community but herself as well, “I learned I’m a pretty decent project manager, and there is so much networking which is so valuable,” Bauer said.

“You can’t get an experience like this anywhere else. So much goes into it, you get to work on your own idea and you can put it on your resume,” Bauer said.

Startup Weekend - Full from Eighteen Eighty on Vimeo.