Published in The-Signal.com
Oct. 10, 2012
By Jana Adkins
Joining the ranks of a grass roots, global movement, the first-ever Startup Weekend Santa Clarita not only sold out, but doubled projected attendance this past weekend.
Drawing people from Santa Clarita, Burbank, Irvine, Westwood, Bakersfield and more, three teams of the eight teams formed — built mobile app companies — came away as winners Sunday night.
The winning startup, Zejoop, won a free incorporation package and six hours of legal counsel from Fortis General Counsel LLP, one of the event sponsors, said Brian Tippy, co-organizer of the event.
Zejoop also won a working lunch with Clearstone Venture Partners of Palo Alto and Santa Monica, he said.
“The Startup Weekend people told us to plan for only 20 participants at the first event, based on the size of Santa Clarita,” said Erick Arndt, co-organizer. “But we sold out at 40 and had to admit three more people at the last minute.”
Among the last minute attendees was Adrian Chernoff, of Westwood, who arrived Friday evening pumped up for the opportunity to join the event and “collaborate with people creating a business on the fly,” he said.
Chernoff has some 89 patents and is credited with being the chief architect and principal inventor behind General Motor’s “Reinvention of the Automobile” chronicled in CNN Money magazine. He has also worked with Disney, NASA, Magna International, OppenheimerFunds, Eastman Kodak and more.
“What a cool guy,” Tippy said. “It really does validate the kind of talent we can attract at this event.”
Tyler Koblasa, of the Startup Weekend organization — backed by the Kauffman Foundation, arrived from San Francisco to help the local organizers with a general format and structure over the long weekend, Koblasa said.
Startup Weekend SCV seemed like a good opportunity to get involved in the local community, said Steve Reich, member of the board of directors Pasadena Angels, an event sponsor. The mission for the startup funding organization is to encourage the creation of new business, he said.
“A lot of people from angel groups are watching and hoping for some momentum in Santa Clarita,” said Dave Trogan, a member of Pasadena Angels and a Santa Clarita resident.
Software designer Jackson Kong made the trip up from Irvine with a co-worker hoping to get some ideas, he said, and to vet their own business ideas for starting a new venture. The pair was working on a couple ideas for web and mobile phone applications.
Lesa Evans of Newhall, owner of Reaching Hire, recruits people with technical skills and attended to immerse herself in the startup culture. Making connections at Startup Weekend was awesome, she said.
Financial and entrepreneurial consultant, Ravi Patel, founder of Patel CFO Services, said he attended as an unofficial business coach to help people who have great plans but no idea how to set up their business.
And local resident and designer John Irwin said he wanted to be a part of the event because he has ideas “going on in his head 24/7” for starting a company.
Burbank product manager, Kathryn Myracks, attended Startup Weekend SCV to join a movement where everyone has creative ideas, she said.
What made this event unique, Arndt said, was its location in a storefront at the mall.
“Most startups and technology is created away from the public,” he said. “But having the public close allowed team members to engage the public in customer validation of their ideas.”
That public access also resulted in a list of people who want to buy tickets for the next Startup Weekend Santa Clarita, Arndt said. People also wanted to join SCV Startup, the high tech startup group founded by Arndt.
Another unusual hallmark of the event, Arndt said, was diversity in age ranging from 21 to 50 years of age. Friendships were formed, and there was a great collaboration and cross pollination of ideas, both Arndt and Tippy said.
Local businesses also stepped up to make the event a success.
Storefront space was donated by the Westfield Valencia Town Center, all Internet connections were set up and monitored by TCAST Communications and live video streaming was provided by Influxis.
“I didn’t even know there was a tech community here,” said Collin Lee, media director for Influxis.
Bagels and coffee were provided to participants, Arndt said, and local food suppliers provided discounted prices for lunches and dinners.
“Koblasa told me how impressed he was at how strong the local support for the event was,” Arndt said. “He said the L.A. event never gets support like that.”
The event went amazingly well, there was a fantastic group of attendees and judges, Tippy said.
As for benefiting the local community, business growth in the tech arena has to start somewhere, said Calvin Hedman, president of Hedman Partners and co-chairman of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation.
“If we really want to have the tech business locate in our city, we have to encourage that any way we can,” he said. “These people and businesses generate energy but have to get to the next step with funding.”