Entrepreneurship and music innovation to come together for Startup Weekend

Julia Trowbridge

design for the startup weekend
This startup weekend, designed to combine music innovation and technology, will take place Feb. 22 through Feb. 24. (Design courtesy of Rachel Isaman)

As it turns out, music innovation and technology are a powerful duo. 

The Institute for Entrepreneurship at Colorado State University and the Music District are coming together through the Techstars Startup Weekend international organization to host a startup weekend designed to combine music and technology in pursuit of innovative ideas.

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The event, which takes place from Feb. 22 to Feb. 24 and will be hosted in CSU’s new Nancy Richardson Design Center, is free to CSU students. The facilitator of the Startup Weekend, Mark Madic, said Techstars Startup Weekend is working towards making their events accessible and more oriented towards CSU students.

“It’s actually really unique compared to most traditional entrepreneurship programs,” Madic said. “By the end of this, the point is to have enough information to decide whether or not they should keep going forward with the idea, or if they should pivot and maybe trying something else… We kind of tweaked all of our programs last year to fit more of a student’s needs rather than traditional business and startup needs.”

Great ideas, innovation, really comes from crossing between different ways of thinking. A chemist is going to think differently than a mechanical engineer, who’s going to think differently than a serial entrepreneur, who’s going to think differently than a guitar player. All those people might have a piece to the puzzle, but not the entire puzzle itself.” – Dillon O’Hare, participant and event staff for the Startup Weekend

Madic said Startup Weekend partnered up with the Music District because there’s a lot of art and music innovation in Fort Collins. Because Startup Weekend’s theme aligns with what the Music District does, the district is excited to get the best minds together to work in an entrepreneurial community, wrote Jesse Elliott, Director of the Music District in an email to The Collegian.

“Music has always been one of the most entrepreneurial fields, it’s just in the nature of the creative process itself,” Elliot wrote. “Musicians themselves, in addition to being artistic creators, are also small—and sometimes eventually very large—businesses that create economic benefits for the companies and communities they surround themselves with.”

Madic said that the purpose of a startup weekend is to build a network of entrepreneurs. The workshop will provide many opportunities for students to make connections with others in their field. 

“Over the three-day event, participants will meet each other, put an idea together and present their pitch to a board of judges,” said Dillon O’Hare, one of the event staff and participant in the event.

The event will include a talk from guest speaker Lloyd Starr, President and chief operations officer at Vinyl Me Please, mentors to help put ideas into action, and other networking opportunities. 

“Everybody there is encouraged to pitch an idea, whether they’ve had this idea in their heads for years or if they just came up with it five minutes ago,” Madic said. “The idea is to really have as many ideas as possible and as many different possible problem statements.”

The event is giving $2,000 worth of cash prizes and various other prizes to the winning pitches. More information can be found on the Startup Weekend’s website or by emailing fortcollins@startupweekend.org.

The final pitches will be given Feb. 24 at 5 p.m., which is open to the public. Madic said he hopes that people who come see the final pitches will be encouraged to attend a startup weekend in the future.

O’Hare said the event is a great experience for people even if they aren’t an entrepreneur or a musician. For the participants, this will be an opportunity for networking outside of the participants one discipline, whether that’s with other students on campus or with potential mentors. 

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“Great ideas, innovation, really comes from crossing between different ways of thinking,” O’Hare said. “A chemist is going to think differently than a mechanical engineer, who’s going to think differently than a serial entrepreneur, who’s going to think differently than a guitar player. All those people might have a piece to the puzzle, but not the entire puzzle itself.”

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.