Reno Startup Weekend Draws Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Oct 20, 2015

Local university students pitch their idea for an app, called Gigity, that helps people find small jobs. The team came in third place at Startup Weekend, a business-launching competition.
Credit Julia Ritchey

  A group of local university students wrapped up their first Startup Weekend last night [Sunday], spending three days brainstorming and developing a business idea. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey has more.

Startup Weekend lets developers, designers and marketers come together to practice their entrepreneurial chops.

Working in teams, participants are given just 54 hours to execute their idea, culminating in a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges.

Bryan McArdle of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada is one of the organizers.

"Everyone came in with different skill sets and I think they they all thought, 'How am I going to make this work?'" he says.  "And they had prototypes, website launches, they got URLs, they had logos for their companies. And they really thought by the end of this weekend, they could go out and really start these companies. And they probably can."

The judges awarded first place to a business idea called Power Plug, aimed at making home automation systems easier for people who want to turn on their lights  using just a phone app.

Ben Hammel, a graduate student, gave the winning pitch.

"I'm a member of the Reno Collective and trying to be generally plugged into the startup scene here in Reno, because I think it is really fast growing, which is exciting because I come from the Bay Area," he says.

This was the fourth Startup Weekend in Reno — the next event will be held in April.