Budding entrepreneurs look for 'next big thing' at UW

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on January 26, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 26 at 7:40 PM

In the sterile florescence of a UW dorm, fueled by loads of caffeine, they’re dreaming up the next Facebook or Amazon, all with a common mission.

“Start my own company some day,” says UW business freshman Kenny Raymond. “Change the world somehow.”

They start as 120 strangers, form teams and create concepts for new products to bring to market. Here’s the catch. They have 54 hours over the course of this weekend to do it. It’s part of a global movement called Startup Weekend where wannabe Mark Zuckerbergs gather to come up with America’s next billion dollar business.

“I think people are here because they want to get creative, they want to get their juices flowing,” says Brett Clifton, a 1998 UW business grad. 

Clifton’s team’s idea is a web based app called “Get In Now” that helps businesses fill missed or cancelled appointments through an alert system on your cell phone.

After a day of finding team members and brainstorming ideas on Friday, today he and his four partners take the idea to local businesses for feedback. He stops into a hair salon on University Avenue and is well received.

“They really liked it and said it was something they would use,” says Clifton. “That feels good.”

It’s that sort of reaction, and its potential payoff that has so many at Startup Weekend  so excited.

“It’s just really exciting to think about becoming part of something so successful,” says team member Kenny Raymond. 

“It’s an idea that turns from nothing into something, and you can’t really teach that in a classroom,” says UW student and program organizer Alex Diaz.

On Sunday, a panel of venture capitalists, business people and start-up successes will judge the ideas. There is no grand prize, no big chunk of seed money, but it gives all who participate an experience like no other, and a working concept that just might turn out to be that elusive “next big thing.”

Says Clifton, “Maybe we’ll get something going on Monday and actually create a business.”

Information: www.uw.startupweekend.org

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