This week the Como Explained team goes to Startup Weekend, the premier event for Columbia's booming (really!) tech scene:
It's not what everyone might think of as a fun weekend, but Startup Weekend is one of the most exciting events in mid-Missouri for Columbia's entrepreneurial scene. Competitors spend 54 sleepless hours taking a business plan from idea to execution. The winners can get up $2000 but the real value is in all the connections participants can make with fellow entrepreneurs and investors.
It's like Christmas for the startup community and it pulls a huge crowd each year. I covered this event last year and have followed the careers of some of the people involved. But still, when I tell people what I've been doing, a lot of them are still surprised. Tech companies, and entrepreneurs, seem like west coast products to many.
Walking around Museao, where Startup Weekend is held, you might indeed get a little of that west coast vibe. The sprawling, high ceilinged former furniture building is a little difficult to describe. What I usually say is that it looks kind of like a tiny Google or Facebook--not that I, or most people, have ever been to Google HQ. But you get the idea: big open spaces, ping pong tables, hammocks, indoor putting greens.
This building (and its owner Brent Beshore) is one of the main hubs of startup activity in Columbia. At least nine very new companies are housed in the space, and several others have called it home in the past. One major success story is Zapier a company started by three twenty-somethings at Columbia's very first Startup Weekend in Columbia. Zapier eventually relocated most staff to San Francisco where they raised $1.2 million in seed funding and are growing at a good pace.
On this week's CoMo Explained, we break down Columbia's entrepreneurial scene and walk you through the life of an idea at Startup Weekend.