Jennifer Sereno: Startup Weekend, Wisconsin Technology Summit, NeXXpo events put good ideas in motion

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.

Ever had a great business idea over a cup of coffee or dinner with friends?

Maybe you’ve even discussed it — and everyone has agreed it’s terrific — but after heading back home, your busy routine takes over. It becomes another case of “woulda, coulda, shoulda.”

Startup Weekend offers the perfect antidote. Hosted in the MGE Innovation Center at University Research Park by a collaborative group including UW–Madison’s Office of Corporate Relations, Startup Weekend brings participants together to quickly identify, develop and validate entrepreneurial ideas. The event starts this Friday evening and is open to community participants.

It’s one of three high-profile gatherings in coming days that celebrate the region’s growing entrepreneurial base.

Allen Dines, assistant director for new ventures with the Office of Corporate Relations, has been involved with Startup Weekend since the inaugural event. Now in its third year, the three-day program format emphasizes the “lean” approach to business formation.

Instead of focusing on a detailed business plan, Startup Weekend encourages people to concentrate on good ideas for needed products or services that can be tested with consumer feedback. Dines notes that some would-be entrepreneurs find themselves spending so much time pulling together business plans and pro forma projections that they miss out on early opportunities to test their concepts with actual customers.

“Startup weekend is really about execution,” he says. “It’s a 54-hour session that really provides a compressed experience of what starting a business is like.”

Read the full column