In support of regional entrepreneurship, Ben Franklin TechVentures® hosted Lehigh Valley Startup Weekend on November 2-4, 2012. Startup Weekend is a 54-hour, hands-on experience where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs gather and develop ideas to determine if start-up ideas are viable. The Lehigh Valley event, at which100 participants, coaches, and organizers spent their weekends, was organized and presented by Lehigh Valley Tech.
Beginning with a pitch-fire session on Friday evening, attendees brought their business ideas and tried to inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday, self-formed teams focused on customer development, validating their ideas, and building a concept for a viable product. On Sunday evening, teams presented their prototypes and received valuable feedback from a panel of experts. Skafflwas selected as the winner at the event.
Skaffl, led by Rita Churhan and Michael Hannsen, seeks to commercialize a tablet-based application for education that will simplify the process of assignment, distribution, completion, collection, and grading of student assignments. K-12 educational institutions have been moving towards providing low-cost tablet devices to students as a solution to the budgetary constraints typically encountered when attempting to implement digital solutions.
In addition to several other prizes, as the Startup Weekend winner, Skaffl will have an opportunity to pitch at the Ben Franklin Venture Idol event to be held on November 15th, also at Ben Franklin TechVentures.
Additional winners included second place team Das Bier Macher. This team filed a provisional patent during the event, which was a first in Startup Weekend history. We Got Your Site won third place and Bar-O-Metrics received an honorable mention.
The Ben Franklin Technology (benfranklin.org) Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania owns and manages Ben Franklin TechVentures, and provided its state-of-the-art facility as a venue in sponsorship of the event. In addition, Ben Franklin staff served as judges and mentors to the entrepreneurs attending. Ben Franklin Technology Partners is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and is funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.
Startup Weekend is an international organization with more than 45,000 alumni. In addition to being a valuable networking opportunity for new entrepreneurs, many companies formed go on to succeed. More than 36% of Startup Weekend start-ups are still growing after three months, and approximately 80% of participants plan on continuing working with their team or start-up after the weekend.
Founded in March 2011, Lehigh Valley Tech is a group of designers, developers, engineers, enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, investors, and technologists dedicated to promoting technology and entrepreneurship in the Lehigh Valley. Though its grassroots efforts, Lehigh Valley Tech aims to help transform the regional economy into a vibrant, self-sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystem that creates jobs and wealth for the 21st Century Lehigh Valley and its surrounding regions.