If the organizers of Startup Weekend Mansfield and the Richland Idea Audition have their way, this September and October will be busy with innovation and entrepreneurship in all forms, ultimately leading to nearly $10,000 in funding for the winners of an innovative pitch competition.
The two events started out independently. But recently they collaborated with the stated goal of creating an annual festival of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in Mansfield and Richland County, according to Idea Works board member Jay Allred, whose facility is hosting Startup Weekend Sept. 28 to 30.
While both events hold similar core principles and are focused on celebrating entrepreneurship in all arenas, they have decidedly unique approaches that should blend well.
Startup Weekend / September 28 - 30
Startup Weekend Mansfield is licensed from an international brand that delivers an intense and fun experience for anyone who wants to stretch themselves and hone skills critical to starting a business or any business-like enterprise. The event’s motto is “No talk, all action,” which says a lot about how it's structured to focus on innovation, great mentorship, and execution.
The lineup of mentors, keynotes, and judges reads like a Who’s Who of regional entrepreneurial heavyweights. Dan Manges, co-founder of Root Insurance, Marquise Stillwell, CEO of Open Box Design Studio, Falon Donohue of VentureOhio, and Matt Armstead of Fintech71 are confirmed for the weekend.
Edward Akinyemi and Cameron Haring, both of Mansfield, are on the organizing committee and participated in their first Startup Weekend in Columbus in February.
“It was great. I had been involved in the Columbus startup scene, but this was an eye opening and enlightening experience,” said participant Cameron Haring. “I was amazed in the amount of talent and enthusiasm.” Haring went on to say that ten years ago, when Columbus began hosting Startup Weekends, there was not much of an ecosystem for entrepreneurship. Events like Startup Weekend and the Idea Audition showed people what was possible.
"The same thing that happened in Columbus can happen here."
“It’s important to know that you don’t have to come in with this fully fleshed out concept. It can just be the crazy idea you’ve been thinking about for awhile. Lots of those end up being the best ones.”
Startup Weekend Mansfield takes place at the Idea Works co-working center at 40 West 4th St. in Mansfield. You can learn more and register here.
Idea Audition / October 16
A collaboration between a half-dozen Richland County partners, Idea Audition differs from Startup Weekend in a couple of key ways. It’s a little more focused on ideas that can be funded. It's also concentrated in one evening of pitches to a panel of judges at The Ohio State University Mansfield campus. Judges will hear pitches from Richland County residents on their great idea (doesn’t have to be a business) and award three prizes totaling $8,500 to the winners.
“It is a way for the Foundation, along with local organizations, to build a culture of entrepreneurship," said Richland County Foundation President Brady Groves. "Small business is the heart and soul of a community and it is a key driver to economic success in Richland County.”
The first step is to apply by Aug 30. Accepted applicants will have four minutes to pitch their idea in a preliminary round, which will be narrowed to a final group for judging. The competition is open to the public, which should bring a measure of fun and showmanship to the event. A reception to showcase all the entrepreneurs will be held while the judges select the winners.
As part of their collaboration, the top three Richland County-based teams from Startup Weekend will be automatically invited to pitch at Idea Audition.
Judges for the Idea Audition include Rick Taylor of Nanogate Systems, Dan Manges, Falon Donohue, Gayle Gorman Green, and Jay Goyal of Goyal Industries.
Idea Audition is presented by the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, Richland Community Development Group, The Ohio State University Mansfield, Braintree Business Development Center, the Small Business Development Center at Ashland University, and SCORE of North Central Ohio.