Joining The Board of Startup Weekend

I spent the day in Kansas City yesterday at the Kauffman Foundation for my first Startup Weekend board meeting. I’m very stingy with my non-profit board activity after deciding in 2005 to get off any non-profit board that wasn’t focused on entrepreneurship and until yesterday the only non-profit board I’m on is the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

I was at the first Startup Weekend in Boulder in July 2007. It was created by Andrew Hyde (he was the Community Manager for TechStars at the time). While I didn’t stay the entire weekend, my partner Seth Levine and I spent a bunch of time there on Saturday, had a blast, met some new people who became long term friends (my first extended experience with Micah Baldwin where Vosnap was created), and paid for a bunch (all of?) the food, which I recall included a lot of beer, chips, and bagels. In was a completely awesome experience.

Andrew ran about 80 Startup Weekends around the world before selling Startup Weekend to Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen in 2009 who were quickly joined by a third partner Franck Nouyrigat. Marc, Clint, and Franck turned Startup Weekend into a 501c(3), got a bunch of smart people involved as advisors such as David Cohen (TechStars CEO), expanded rapidly, got a grant from the Kauffman Foundation, and are now launching an even broader effort called the Startup Foundation.

My view is that the goals and behavior of Startup Weekend, going back to the very beginning when Andrew Hyde conceived it, are completely aligned with my view that entrepreneurial communities can be created in many places and a key attribute is activities that engage the entire entrepreneurial stack from aspiring entrepreneurs through experienced entrepreneurs and include all of the various constituencies around the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I saw that in Boulder in July 2007 and I see that when I hear of other people that have participated in Startup Weekends around the world.

I’m psyched to join some other super smart people on the board, which includes Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation; Steve Blank, serial entrepreneur and author; entrepreneurship lecturer at U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University; Greg Gottesman, managing director at Madrona Venture Group; Laura McKnight, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation; and Nick Seguin, manager of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation.

If you’ve never done a Startup Weekend, try one. I bet it changes your life.

  • Brad, this sounds really interesting.  I’m curious, for a city seeking to take its entrepreneurial community to the next level, what do you think between a TechStars Network organization and Startup Foundation?  Or are they complementary?  There have been some conversations here in the Springs since your visit a few weeks ago, with both a desire and capability to step things up.  Thanks.

    • They are completely complementary. I think they are both powerful / important parts of the development and sustenance of an entrepreneurial community.

  • I’ve been in a couple startups, but when the first Startup Weekend came to Monterrey Mexico, just a few weeks ago, I went just for the fun of it, and man! it was great! awesome!, I had never felt the full force of Monterrey’s entrepreneurship spirit, it was full of creative people working together, it was just awesome. This one was hosted by a design school, there were a lot of designers with great ideas, and a lot of programmers arrived too, and even when nobody knew exactly what it was about or what they should be doing, in the end it got the entrepreneurship juices flowing.

    I have to thank everybody involved for one of the best weekends in my life 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Hey Brad,

    Do you have a few minutes sometime to chat about your visit? I am trying to set something up in KC and I could use your feedback. Functional alternative, I can email you some questions instead if you prefer.

    • Email ([email protected]) is way better.

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