I had the awesome opportunity this month to be a speaker and judge at Start Norfolk – Hampton Roads’ successful attempt at a Startup Weekend-type event. I met the organizer, Zack Miller, at LessConf in Atlanta back in February, and things moved forward from there.
If you’re unfamiliar with the model, people pitched ideas on Friday night, then formed teams based on the ideas that were chosen to be developed. All during Saturday and Sunday, teams were hard at work making as much progress as possible, and that progress was shared to the judging panel on Sunday night when we picked a winner. A variety of speakers also gave talks throughout the weekend; mine was focused on my opinion of the correct way to go about doing a startup (touching on pitching, team, funding, and location).
Speaking was a blast, and I can say that as good of a time the judging process was, it was tough. There was no shortage of great ideas and no shortage of impressive executions, and while we ultimately had to narrow the field, my recommendation to everyone is to keep working on your idea, even if you didn’t get chosen or didn’t win.
So what does this mean for Norfolk?
For one, I was incredibly moved by their startup community. Most people wouldn’t initially associate technology entrepreneurs with Norfolk, Virginia, but I can wholeheartedly say that there’s tons of talent and passion. Even on opening night when people were pitching ideas, the energy and enthusiasm in the room was arguably higher than you’d see in Atlanta. There’s so much potential, and it was honestly a bit of an emotional experience for me seeing everyone come together.
And I know this is only the beginning. Drinks Downtown is looking to be an awesome way to bring the community together on a regular basis, a great coworking space exists in 757 Creative Space, and I’ve heard buzz about a second Start Norfolk. Not to mention that the awesome work that We Are Titans is doing proves both the need and opportunity for technology companies in the area. I get the feeling that I’ll be back soon.
Put on for yo’ city!