Charleston entrepreneur Brian Tice hopes he can get one or two things out of Startup Weekend Georgetown.
The first would be to gather talent around his latest idea to work on it with him and his business partner. The second would be for them to learn where and how they may be able to refine what they’ve already done by watching and helping someone else’s idea move toward reality.
They will be in the right place for both, said Mike Schroll, the co-owner of Cowork MYR, one of the organizers of the Georgetown Startup Weekend. Schroll will be the leader of the conference.
The weekend set to begin late Friday afternoon at the South Carolina Maritime Museum will draw entrepreneurs, programmers, marketers, designers and others to move start-up business ideas from someone’s head to launch. About 30 had registered to participate as of last week, and organizers are hoping that 50 or more will attend.
Attendees will be from all over the Grand Strand and elsewhere in South Carolina, Schroll said, as well as North Carolina, Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
The idea is not only to focus a variety of skills on a business idea but also to identify the community of individuals who could work together on future projects.
While the idea people such as Tice might be looking for help from programmers or designers, the programmers and designers might be looking for emerging businesses that can use – and hire – their skills.
The weekend is being sponsored by Cowork MYR, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance for the Economic Development of Georgetown County.
It had its inception in a trip that chamber and alliance members took to a Cowork-like business in Greenville, and they saw it as a way entrepreneurs might be attracted to Georgetown and nurtured in an environment to help them succeed.
When they returned, chamber president Brian Tucker visited Cowork, an office space in Myrtle Beach designed to encourage its members to collaborate, where the weekend idea began to take shape. Schroll had been to half a dozen Startup weekends elsewhere and was familiar with the organization and the format it uses across the country.
While many of the ideas will be web-based businesses, Schroll said, that is not a requirement for Startup weekends. He said he was at one where attendees worked on an idea that envisioned screw off high heels to convert a pair of shoes from daytime wear to dancing the night away.
That one found financing after the Startup weekend where it was presented and the last Schroll heard, it was still being developed for the market.
Schroll said at one Startup weekend, he presented an idea for person-to-person video conferencing and by the end of the weekend, had a functioning website. During the process, though, he and his team discovered that there already was such an online business that had a list of many experts for conferencing.
Then, the Startup weekend task was to think what would distinguish Schroll’s business from the other. How could he do something different and/or better?
“We feel we have a phenomenal quality of life that would support a start-up culture,” Tucker said of Georgetown’s ability to attract entrepreneurs.
The chamber is already geared to help on-the-ground businesses such as the convertible high heels, he said, and he hopes contacts made at the Georgetown Startup will extend outreach to people developing online businesses.
“From a web-based standpoint,” Tucker said, “if you can operate a business from anywhere, why not here?”
Chamber and alliance members will attend the Georgetown Startup as mentors and judges, and the national Startup organization also will have a representative there. Attendees will present their start-up ideas Friday evening and then vote on those it will focus on for the rest of the weekend.
The group will be divided into teams – one per idea – and work through the hurdles and challenges to make it a functioning business by Sunday afternoon.
Tucker said it would be great if a Georgetown-based business came out of the weekend, but he really doesn’t know what to expect.
“Some of this is exploration,” he said. “Some of this is moving into uncharted territory.”
It will be the same for at least some of the attendees.
Tice founded a residential property management company two years ago, and with heavy use of the Internet has snared 200 properties already.
His newest idea is a photo-only website where people can post their pictures and others can see them. The pictures would be grouped, as in separate albums, and people could take photos from their iPhones and post them immediately.
He said the idea came to him and his partner after both were married within the last year.
They received many photos wedding guests had taken on their iPhones and texted to them. How much better would it be, the two wondered, if all this could be done on one site that everyone could access?
Tice will pitch his idea Friday night, and chosen or not, he expects the weekend to be successful for him.
“I’m excited just to be in the room and be part of the energy,” Tucker said.
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.