One of the most exciting open startup events (IMO) is Startup Weekend, and the Carlsen Center hosted one last weekend (3/7).  If you aren’t familiar with it, Startup Weekend is a business competition where teams form and race to validate a business in 54 hours.  (Technically this one was 53 with daylight savings) It is an exciting event where budding entrepreneurs meet that weekend to pursue a dream.

You might remember that last year we put on a Startup Weekend called Sustainable Revolution at the Atrium.

This year Startup Weekend was put on at CSU Sacramento’s Campus by the Carlsen Center. Facilitated by Josh David Miller the weekend kicked off with nearly 40 ideas pitched.  Teams then coalesced around ten of them and started the race to create a business to pitch on Sunday. I joined a team around building more accessible STEM education centers called STEM Gym.  

It was exciting, going out and doing customer discovery and changing our pitch constantly throughout the weekend. We marched through the rain to spend an hour talking with the Girl Scouts about the STEM center and then raced drones with Robotics Evolution who has students/kids that made a device to suspend things in the air with sound.  Some members took Steve Blank’s advice and got thrown out of a library trying to talk to future customers. 

After all that fun we buckled down and finalized our business model and pitch.  Our lead Boniface Micheal from CSU Sacramento brought cool things kids made to impress the judges.  Being pessimistic I thought we would struggle to connect but Boniface hit his marks on the presentation and we Won!  Well, we won Second Place. First place went to CampusMart –E-commerce marketplace for students can post/sell their services on campus. Third place went to another E-Commerce idea ShopSmart, who demoed a web extension to help buyers find products that align with their values

If you want to learn more about the excitement of customer discovery check our out Customer Discovery and Product Fit March 17th at Hacker LabSac will have some pictures up soon!.

Thomas Hall


Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

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