MANSFIELD -- Four Richland County natives will return in late September for Mansfield's first-ever Techstars Startup Weekend.
Matt Armstead, a 1991 Lexington graduate and co-founder of Horizon Two Labs; Crestview product Falon Donohue, CEO of VentureOhio, 2003 Lexington alumnus Dan Manges, co-founder of Root Insurance, and Madison product Marquise Stillwell, founder of Open Box Design Studio, will all partake in Startup Weekend Mansfield, set for Sept. 28 to 30 at Idea Works, 40 W. 4th St.
Donohue and Manges will travel from Columbus, Armstead from nearby Powell, and Stillwell from New York City. They will act as judges, speakers and mentors.
Here's what they said when asked about their experience with startups.
What’s project has your immediate attention?
Armstead: I’ve got two. I’m on the board of Bybe, a company that digitizes rebates from wine and spirits. And there’s SMRTSVR. It’s a 1099 worker’s tax saving plan. It automatically helps you save, and at the end of every quarter, it pays the IRS for you.
Donohue: VentureOhio is working with top venture capitalists from across the state to create and publish the Watchlist – Ohio's 50 most promising startups of 2018. The goal of this list is to highlight the caliber of companies being built across the state in an effort to attract talent and capital to the region.
Manges: We've seen an incredible response to Root in the 20 states that we're currently in. Root is now a top 50 Finance app on both iOS and Android, with a 4.8-star rating in the iOS App Store. We're working hard on making Root available nationally.
Stillwell: I’m currently working with a robotic startup, Artmatr. It’s focused on disrupting the printing industry with 2D printing. The community of artists and engineers working at Artmatr are merging digital technology with traditional painting methods.
Why did you agree to be part of Mansfield's Startup Weekend?
Armstead: I truly believe great companies can start anywhere. They can start right there in Mansfield. If they are surrounded with support, anything is possible. That’s why I continue to give back and participate in these kinds of things – it’s one of my greatest joys.
Donohue: I grew up here and know that Mansfield is full of talented and creative people. I can't wait to see what the groups come up with over the weekend.
Manges: I grew up in the Mansfield area and want to help support local entrepreneurs who are working on creating new companies and products.
Stillwell: I believe Mansfield has untapped potential for fostering great talent, and Startup Week is a good platform to begin that process. I’m happy to be a part of it.
What impact have you seen Startup Weekend have on other communities?
Armstead: I think Startup Weekend helps build a community of entrepreneurs, designers, hustlers and other people who are experimenting with startups. It’s a great opportunity to get creative, network, come up with ideas. It’s rare, but companies do come out of this. But at the same time, the odds of failure with any startups are extremely high.
Along with other events, it’s a great step towards Mansfield building a stronger startup ecosystem.
Donohue: Startup week is an incredible opportunity to learn, engage with your community, make friends and meet potential co-founders. The ripple effect that Startup Weekend Columbus has had on the community has been incredible - there is a strong bond between participants that lasts.
The intent of startup weekend is to learn, meet like-minded people and improve the entrepreneurial culture of your city. However, a few promising companies have been born out of Startup Weekend, including RapChat, born out of Startup Weekend Athens. RapChat has gone on to raise $1.7 million.
Manges: Startup Weekend in Columbus is a great initiative to help provide entrepreneurs with support in launching new ventures. I'm hoping that we can create similar momentum in Mansfield.
Stillwell: I have spoken and judged many types of Startup Weekends. Startup Weekend is a great place to inspire and encourage entrepreneurs to continue to dream and find other entrepreneurs that they can borrow, build, and share with. It’s a great place for leaning, collaborating, and being inspired.