Startup Weekend Changed My Life


With Startup Weekend Ames less than two weeks away, this is the best time as any to share one organizer’s experience with her first Startup Weekend. This isn’t going to be a minute-by-minute agenda of what happens at a Startup Weekend event, but that can be found here. This is a story of how Startup Weekend can change your life.


I was a recent graduate from ISU and I had just left my first corporate job and was getting ready to begin my “dream job” at another major corporation. That’s when it happened – I caught the entrepreneurial bug. I never thought something like this would happen to me, but my life hasn’t been the same since.


My first time was at Startup Weekend Des Moines in March 2012, and I didn’t know what to expect.


I showed up to Startup City Des Moines, without knowing a single person there. I didn’t even really know what I was signing myself up for. I was lucky enough to win a ticket from a great local startup, Goodsmiths, in a Twitter contest, so I figured I might as well check it out. After all, I didn’t have much to lose.


After some networking and pitches and even a game of Extreme Roshambo, I formed a team and quickly got to work. I didn’t leave the first night until well after 2am, and I couldn’t even think about sleep by the time I got home. I was too excited about how I was going to change the world with this revolutionary company I was helping to build.


I spent the entire weekend working on something I truly believed in.


I was going to change the world with this group of amazing and passionate people. There were times that we butt heads on decisions and there were times that we couldn’t stop laughing at dumb jokes (that’s what 4am looks like, folks). I even cried in front of my entire team 10 minutes before we presented. We became very close during that weekend and we worked well together.


We were all very passionate and excited about what we were building, and I thought our presentation couldn’t have gone better. I suppose, aside from the fact that we were the only team whose slides didn’t load. Minor details.


Unfortunately, we didn’t win – we didn’t even place. I’ll admit that I was a bit devastated. But, for some reason, I couldn’t shake the extreme excitement that carried over from that weekend.


We were determined to see this thing through to launch. We talked about how we were going to make it work with multiple team members living far outside the Des Moines area. We exchanged contact information and went on our ways. Sadly, we lost touch soon after and the idea has become just that – an idea.


That idea has passed and that team is gone, but there isn’t a sad ending to this story.


During that weekend, I met and had extensive conversations with people who have become my mentors and best friends. I found my true passion in life which, surprisingly, isn’t what I thought it was throughout my college career. I’ve since quit my corporate “dream job” and begun pursuing a career that makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning.


That one little Startup Weekend event turned into another event, OpenIowa, in April 2012, in which my team placed second. Then came Startup Weekend November 2012, and my team placed first. My team and I are still working on that little idea of ours and we’re planning a big launch later this summer.


I’ve met amazing people and I’m creating an awesome journey for myself, all because I decided to take a chance on an event I had never heard of before. How could Startup Weekend change your life?