After Two Years, St. Louis’ T-Rex Gets Even Bigger

T-Rex, St. Louis startups, startup space

Tyrannosaurus Rex is undisputably one of the biggest dinosaurs in the world. So naturally, St. Louis’ startup hub and incubator, called T-Rex, is just as large.

The T-Rex space in downtown St. Louis already houses 70 startups, five funding and mentoring groups, including the 630 Accelerator, as well as space for entrepreneurial and startup focused events. We’ve covered T-Rex startups quite a bit here at Nibletz.

Now, as the space celebrates its second year and milestones like growing from 6 startups to 70 startups, they’re naturally ready for a big expansion. On Tuesday they announced that they would be acquiring the Lammert Building at 911 Washington Avenue, also in downtown St. Louis, giving them a whopping 160,000 square feet for startup and entrepreneurial greatness.

“Our move to the Lammert Building will provide us with 160,000 sq/ft of space, which we need to continue fostering St. Louis’ entrepreneurial activity and bring more startups to the area,” said Jay De Long, Vice President of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and T-REX Board Member. “A more permanent home will also give us a focal point for new activities that were described in the recent Regional Entrepreneur Initiative.”

“The building will provide opportunities for us to deepen and broaden our mission, which will include a strong focus on digital design,” said Kevin Farrell, Senior Director of Economic Housing and Development for the Partnership of Downtown St. Louis.

As a sponsored project of the City of St. Louis, the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber, T-REX was able to fund its acquisition and renovation of the Lammert Building through a variety of partnerships.

The funding support includes New Markets Tax Credits allocated by St. Louis Development Corporation, which raised a $1.7 million investment by St. Louis-based U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation. The New Markets Tax Credits financing enabled T-REX to acquire the building and maintain its ability to provide stable, low-cost, and flexible membership to startup companies. These funds will also provide initial funding for tenant improvements.

“Many non-profits and incubators operate with a debt that hinders or slowly kills their mission,” said Joe Reagan, President & CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber. “Similar to the first round of a capital campaign, these tax credits enable T-REX to grow expeditiously and still fulfill its purpose of providing below market-rate space and services to startup companies.”

“T-REX is a game-changer in attracting entrepreneurs to the downtown St. Louis region,” said Otis Williams, Executive Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation. “Because we think that T-REX is a great approach to business development in our area, we have been supportive of its mission with creative financing opportunities, and we’ll continue to support it in the future.”

They plan on starting renovation on the building immediately and plan to move into the building in early 2014.

Find out more about T-Rex here.

T-rex image at top:

Introducing: Startup Community Leader Of The Year

Startup Community Leader Of The Year, Startup CommunitiesNibletz, the voice of startups everywhere else wants to know who you think the startup community leader of the year is. Who is driving entrepreneurship, innovation, and change in your community? Who is serving as a catalyst among the people in your community?

Now we love Tony Hsieh and Brad Feld, but they are very well known community leaders who actually speak about community leaders all the time. We want to know the names of the people in your area that we may not know. Is there a person who takes startups under his or her wing and helps them get to the next level?

Is there a startup founder that has taken his or her good fortune and spread it around the startup community?

We are taking nominees from now until November 15th. Just email your pick’s name and up to three paragraphs about why they would be the Startup Community Leader of the Year. On November 15th we will put the top 10 nominees up for a nationwide vote.

The Startup Community Leader of the Year will get a chance to speak at Everywhere Else Tennessee, February 17-19th 2014, free room during the conference at the Sheraton Downtown Memphis thanks to our friends at the Marston Group, and three extra VIP attendee tickets, one for whoever nominated that person and two for the winners friends, relatives or other startup partners.

Start sending your stories and  nominees to, and we’ll get the top 10 posted for voting by November 15th.  Remember we’re looking for strong community leaders in your local community and that’s about the only rule. Oh and you can’t nominate yourself.

The address for nominations again is Don’t forget to add up to three paragraphs about why this person is your nominee for Startup Community Leader Of The Year.

Make sure you’ve got your ticket or Startup Avenue booth!

Boulder Tech Is OK! Mobilizing To Help Those In The Canyon

Boulder startups, Brad Feld, David Cohen, Techstars, Boulder Floods

Techstars David Cohen took to Twitter to report everyone was ok and helped mobilize cleanup efforts

Brad Feld, the author of Startup Communities and the founder and managing director of Foundry Group, is one of the Boulder tech community’s most notable figures and a champion for startups and Colorado. When news broke out about the intense downpours and rain that hammered Boulder over this past weekend Feld was vacationing at Vail and watching the coverage on TV, reports USA Today.

Feld keeps a condominium in downtown Boulder, but his primary home is in the nearby mountains. By most accounts the town of Boulder weathered the storm quite well. It was those in the canyon and in the mountains that were hit hardest. Feld took to his popular blog, Feld Thoughts, to let people know that he was a-ok but he wasn’t able to get to his home in the mountains.

One of the biggest themes when Feld and others talk about Boulder is the tight knit community that’s formed around entrepreneurs, technology, and startups. Last July when wild fires ravaged parts of Colorado, Boulder’s tech community banded together to raise money through fundraising drives, t-shirt sales, and other impromptu crowdfunding efforts to help others.

The same holds true today after the floods and rain.

Techstars co-founder David Cohen echoed Feld’s initial sentiment reporting on Twitter that the town of Boulder was ok, but the canyon roads were washed out. Feld also took to Twitter to organize people to help others who had flooded basements. 15 people quickly mobilized just off Cohen’s tweets.

Techstars alum Benny Joseph, whose startup GoodApril was acquired by Intuit before demo day this year, wanted to give back as well. USA Today reports that although GoodApril has moved to the California offices of Intuit, Boulder had a special place in their hearts,and they donated $20,000 to clean up efforts.

Boulder again has shown the community in “Startup Community”


A Startup World In An Infographic

We know that startup scenes are booming across the United States, but other areas around the globe are also growing, sometimes even faster than their US counterparts. A recent infographic published by the Australian arm of Intuit highlighted the latest Startup Genome data from across the globe and found out that out of the top 20 startup ecosystems across the world, the US only lays claim to six.

Obviously Silicon Valley still ranks in at the top. That’s quickly followed by Tel Aviv which came in second. Many actually refer to Israel as the “startup country,” although most of their startup activity is concentrated in Tel Aviv.

Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Boston, and Chicago round out the rest of the US entries in the data set.

One of the most interesting pieces of data points to the fact that many entrepreneurs are migrating away from Silicon Valley to other cities across the globe. 35% of startup founders in Waterloo, Canada previously lived in Silicon Valley. The same holds true for 33% of the founders in Singapore and 31% of the founders in Toronto.

Guess who works harder?

If working long hours is an indication of actually working harder Singapore, not Silicon Valley, takes the cake. Singapore entrepreneurs average 11 hours per day while their counterparts in Silicon Valley work an hour and a half less.

Check out all of this intriguing startup city data in Intuit’s infographic below.

Startup Cities, Intuit, Startup Infographics



Knight Foundation Refreshes Miami Startup Community With $150K For Refresh Miami

Refresh Miami, Knight Foundation, Miami startupRefresh Miami, an organization that supports startups and entrepreneurship in Miami, has been connecting entrepreneurs to each other, growth capital, and resources since 2005, since before it was “cool”. The 5,000 member organization has held over 1000 events since it’s inception 8 years ago, according to Florida Technology Journal.

Now the organization is the recipient of $150,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Knight Foundation is a philantrhopic cousin to the Knight Ridder newspaper family. They often support startups and startup communities, especially in the areas of media.

That’s where this funding will come in handy. Refresh Miami is looking to revamp its web offerings by generating more content for entrepreneurs, founders, and investors. They’re also looking to connect their user base to a an event calendar, job listings, and even member profiles.

“Its great to be a part of the growing climate for innovation in Miami, and we hope to contribute more with this support from the Knight Foundation,” said Brian Breslin, Refresh Miami founder and co-director.

“Through this expansion Refresh can continue on its mission of growing and refreshing the technology and entrepreneurial community in the city,” said Peter Martinez, Refresh Miami co-director.

“Miami’s start-up ecosystem continues to gain momentum, but people need the right connections and a central place for ways to learn and engage in the community,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation. “Refresh Miami will fill this gap by providing entrepreneurs with the opportunities they need to build their ideas and inspire others to participate.”

Find out more about Refresh Miami.


The Evolution Of Chicago’s Tech & Startup Scene In An Infographic

chicagoWe travel all across the country and check out startup communities and ecosystems everywhere else. One of the ones that caught our eye early on is Chicago.

Going back to the early 1900’s Chicago has had hustle. Much like many don’t want to succumb to the fact that drug kingpins (the ones that don’t get caught) are the grittiest of hard working entrepreneurs, Chicago has heart, hustle and loyalty that can date back to the seedy underworld that once played home to the most notorious of gangsters Al Caone and later Sam Giancana.

Why in the world did I go there? First off it’s history but secondly the Chicago startup ecosystem is an extremely loyal bunch. They help each other in good and bad and they lift each other up whenever and where ever they can. That’s why, despite the fact that Chicago produces 100 startup events a month, the entire community comes out for Chicago TechWeek.

Staples in industry like United Airlines, Fannie May and Sears grew up in Chicago, with countless others.

And then when technology took off (and despite what PandoDaily once said) BOOM! Chicago’s tech ecosystem and infrastructure skyrocketed which is still what it’s doing today.

Most recently we know the stories of GrubHub and Groupon but back in 1984 (yes 1984 before many startup founders were born), IT mail order powerhouse CDW was founded in Chicago. Millions of people have bought computers, storage, printers and other peripherals from the three letter giant.

Chicago also revolutionized and re-invented the classifieds department across multiple categories starting with CareerBuilder in the mid 90’s. Then in the late 90’s and launched, in Chicago.  Chicago also has one of our favorite regional startup sites to visit,

Let us also not forget that Motorola is based right outside of Chicago.

All of this is why one of Chicago’s other big startups, BigMarker, went ahead and made this trusty infographic highlighting the history of Chicago’s Tech Scene as a celebration of their tech community on TechWeek.

Oh and regardless of size, Chicago holds one mean tech party during TechWeek second only to the VegasTech party at SXSW.



Click here to actually read or print this thing (enlarge)

Here’s more Chicago Techweek startup coverage.


We Catch Up With Sam Krichevsky From Cleveland’s LaunchHouse


LaunchHouse is the startup and entrepreneurial Mecca of Cleveland, Ohio. Like many facilities of its kind, LaunchHouse has an incubator, an accelerator, and co-working in their 22,000 square foot space.

We ran into the LaunchHouse team at Chicago TechWeek and got a chance to interview Sam Krichevsky, who’s really excited about the next level for LaunchHouse.

First, they are looking to expand their footprint across Cleveland, across Ohio, and across the region. Their model is working for startups at their earliest stages and continues to work and support ramp-up companies as well. They have touchpoints with every type of entrepreneur in the Cleveland area.

Next, Krichevsky is excited about LaunchHouse’s next batch of startups that will report to the accelerator in August.  This class includes 3 startups from outside the region and a variety of technology spaces.

Another thing that Krichevesky and the LaunchHouse crew are excited about is a “startup neighborhood” concept that they are working on. They are hoping to build a Live/Work/Play space to help attract and cultivate the best startups and entrepreneurs to Cleveland.

Cleveland is bustling with startup and entrepreneurial activity. Jump Start America is based in Cleveland. They also have the BizDom accelerator and a very active startup community.

Check out our video interview with Krichevsky below and for more info visit


This Ohio startup launched a crowdfunding compliance platform.


Arkansas Catches Teenpreneur Bug With Sparkible Startup Summer Camps

Arkansas,Startup,Accelerator, Sparkible, Teen entrepreneurs, teen startups

Last week we sat in on a pretty intense startup community meeting in Tennessee. During the meeting some of the community stakeholders reminded us that successful startup communities are drilling down even further with education.

Entrepreneurs are getting younger and younger. Stories about 22 year old entrepreneurs are regular occurrences. The new wave of entrepreneurs are teenagers, and we’re not talking the 18-19 year old variety. Earlier this month we reported that a team led by a 14-year-old won Tampa Bay’s most recent Startup Weekend.

Startup communities across the country are starting to recognize this trend of innovation and entrepreneurism hitting a younger demographic. Also in the beginning of the month, the Kauffman Foundation and Kansas City entrepreneur William Robinson announced Teen Idea Labs, a conference style event for teenagers.

Now Arkansas has announced an initiative aimed at teenagers and innovation. Sparkible is a 4 day mini-accelerator summer camp for teenagers, complete with a demo day for potential investors, educators, stakeholders, and of course parents.

Sparkible is the brain child of Arkansas serial entrepreneur Mike Steely with help from Northwest Arkansas serial entrepreneur and Ark Challenge mentor David Moody, Innovate Arkansas reports.

Steely posted on his LinkedIn:

I am pleased to announce the creation of Sparkible, a non-profit education company focused on sparking innovation and startup learning. Sparkible is kicking off a series of summer camps in Arkansas structured to immerse teenagers in idea creation, innovation and building a business. This series is also our initial fundraising effort, proceeds from the camps will be used to build out our technologies and curriculum for this fall.
If you would like to learn more, know of a potential camper who would be interested in attending, would be interested in sponsoring a camp or camp participant, please contact me and also go check out our startup website at
– See more at:

Sparkible will allow participants between the ages of 14-18 to:

  • Learn ways to spot innovative ideas
  • Experience the lean startup process for turning an idea to a plan in less than a day
  • Understand what it takes to build a startup company and define your role.
  • Learn how to build a team, plan, and develop your idea.
  • Understand how Social Media interacts with your company.
  • Understand how mobile technologies, including Apps, will impact businesses of the future.
  • How to craft your message via an elevator pitch for funding and growth.
  • Where to find startup capital to grow your idea into a business.

Find out more here at Innovate Arkansas.

Check out with these two kidpreneurs did with cardboard.






Image source.

No You’re Not Better Than Silicon Valley: How To Support Your Entrepreneurial EcoSystem

Workforpie, Guest Post, Cliff McKinney, Startup CommunitiesCliff McKinney is the CEO and cofounder of WorkForPie and a community leader in the Memphis startup community. This post, which also appears on his personal Tumblr, can easily be applied to any town, any city, everywhere else.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Memphis lately. Where it is, where it’s been, and where it might go. What I think should be done to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem here is perhaps a post for another day. Today though I thought I’d share a few words about how to support an entrepreneurial ecosystem. No doubt this applies in Memphis, but I’ll try to leave it general enough to apply to most any growing ecosystem. I’ll try to limit things to five general themes:

Theme One: Be Successful

Brad (my cofounder) and I talk a lot about how we might help Memphis. We do a lot of small things that we hope add up. We both serve as mentors to local entrepreneurs and lead user groups, but we always come back to the same general idea: the best thing we can do for Memphis is to become wildly successful. Doing that will bring in more investors and more interest, more jobs, and even a couple new angel investors. This goal trumps all the others, as it should. If our efforts to be successful leave us no time for all of the other stuff, then so be it.

This should be paramount for you and your company too. If you have to move to be successful, then move (but come back and invest later). If you have to put another company out of business to be successful, then do it. If taking advantage of some opportunity means others won’t have the chance, that’s okay too. It’s okay to be competitive. It’s okay to want to be better than the next guy. The success of your company is what matters most. Never forget that.

Theme Two: Give Time

I’d love to give money to my local ecosystem, but as a poor entrepreneur I just can’t afford it. What I can afford is my time, and I’d like to think that in some ways that is more valuable to local entrepreneurs. My office is always open, and my phone is always on, and I’m happy to give local entrepreneurs an earful (and often more than they bargained for) anytime they ask. Brad leads the local Python user group, and I lead the local Startup Meetup. It’s something we both do for fun, but we also do it because we feel obligated to give back to a community that has given us a bunch and that continues to support us.

Giving your time means a lot to local entrepreneurs—especially those who are just starting out. You don’t have to lead a startup meetup. Just make it a priority to attend once a month. Email startup CEOs and offer your help. It only takes a little while, and the good karma you’ll earn is totally worth it. Do what you can. Every little bit counts, and giving something, no matter how little, is always better than giving nothing.


Theme Three: Be Honest In Your Support

So here comes the first controversial part of this post. Truth is, I don’t think supporting local startups means blowing smoke up their asses. I’m a big fan of honesty, and if a local company has a terrible business model or distribution model or team then the fact that they’re local shouldn’t preclude you from saying so. In fact, I think you’re more obligated to say something if they’re local. It’s what I give, and it’s what I expect from the people I really respect.

I gave a little talk during the Seed Hatchery demo day last year. I won’t bore you with the details, but the general theme was that the companies at Demo Day weren’t competing with Memphis companies, or even Tennessee companies. They were competing with every company everywhere. If we didn’t treat them accordingly, then we were doing them a disservice. I’m hard on the local companies I mentor. I don’t call them out publicly, but in private I do as much as I can to convince them that this isn’t a mutual admiration society. You can’t build an ecosystem by calling a local company awesome when it’s clear to everyone else that it’s not. It just doesn’t work that way.

Theme Four: Pay and Get Paid

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a founder was thinking that someone deserves some kind of discount or special recognition because he or she is a friend. That should never be the case. If a local company does awesome work and they charge companies $150/hr for it, then I expect to pay $150/hr. I honestly don’t care if the company is in Memphis or even if it’s run by my mother or my spouse. If the service is valuable to me, I expect to pay for it. If it’s not, and the company happens to be local, then I’ll take the time to tell them why, and if they correct the issue, I’ll pay for their service then.

Now (but not always) I feel the same way about the services I provide. I trade value for value. I have something valuable, and I expect companies to pay for it. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business. The only time we consider offering some discount for our services is when working with some company at a discounted rate is somehow highly valuable to us through the association. Despite the fact that they have millions more dollars than all of my local startups combined, I’m more likely to work with some company like Facebook at a discount than I am to discount our rate for a local company. I want to establish my value, and one of the most important places to do that is in my own hometown.

Theme Five: Talking Shit Hurts You More

It’s important to be proud of your city. The best way to show that pride is to talk about all the wonderful things your city is doing to support entrepreneurship. The worst way is to talk trash about other cities or other ecosystems. I’ve heard people say things along the lines of “our city is better than Silicon Valley because….” When I hear that, I almost immediately assume the person saying it is an idiot. Your city is not better than Silicon Valley. That’s why you’re comparing it to Silicon Valley. If your city was better than Silicon Valley, in any way whatsoever, then they would be comparing themselves to you. Honestly, the same goes for any criticism of another ecosystem. If you’re talking shit about them, then you’re wasting time you could be spending making your city better.

On the other hand, I happen to think that it’s completely okay to criticize your own ecosystem, and even startups or leaders within it. But, if you do, make sure you’re actually talking directly to the person or company in question. If they can’t take it then they probably need to hear it even more. And nothing sucks worse than hearing criticism secondhand. I’ve had more than my fair share of secondhand criticism and it sucks way worse than hearing it from the source.


See this guest post by McKinney’s co-founder Brad Montgomery, on “Minimum Working Thing”


Handprint Selected For Brad Feld’s Fiber House


Brad Feld,Fiber House,Kansas City,Kauffman Foundation,Handprint,StatupWhat do Brad Feld, Kansas City, and Google Fiber have in common?  Well combine them all together and you have the subject of a social experiment that Feld is doing to further the startup community in Kansas City.

Kansas City was the second city in the United States to get 1 gb fiber available to consumers, the first was Chattanooga Tennessee. Unlike Chattanooga though, Kansas City was the first city chosen for Google Fiber, the search giant’s first soiree into the land of internet providers. In Kansas City, and soon to be Austin, Google is running 1gb fiber optic lines for internet which allows ultra fast downloads and uploads. This will also put them in competition with several cable companies in markets where they expand their fiber product.

So how did Brad Feld get involved? The Kauffman Foundation’s Lesa Mitchell spoke at SXSW about how she took a phone call from Brad sometime over the Christmas holidays and he was excited about putting his money where his mouth is. He wanted to buy a house in the Google fiber neighborhood in Kansas City, but he wasn’t going to live there.

Feld teamed with the Kauffman Foundation and Startup America CEO Scott Case, who quickly devised a plan. They ran a contest for startups, where one startup would get to live in the house rent free for one year, and with the Google Fiber internet paid for as well.

Is crazy as this idea seemed at first, it was done before, right in Kansas City. Back in October we reported that Ben Barreth had the idea to buy a house and let hackers live in it rent free, again with Google fiber, to work on their startups. Barreth, who’s just an average guy, leveraged his own personal finances to put together his “Homes For Hackers” project and open up the first house.

Feld credit’s Barreth for inspiring him to do this. The two met at the Thinc Iowa startup event where the idea for the Fiber House was made.

Now, the judging committee, which included Case, has selected Handprint as the first year long occupants of Brad Feld’s Fiber House. Handprint is working on 3D printing and editing technology which Feld said “really captured our imagination”.

Handprint founders; Mike Demarais, Alexa Nguyen, Jack Franzen, and Derek Caneja will move to Kansas City and into the Fiber House where they can continue to develop their startup.

For more check out this story at Startup Revolution.

This was the first house purchased for hackers in Kansas City.

Are you a member of Brad Feld’s alternative to Hacker News, Startup Revolution?

Startup Front, There’s Something Brewing Outside Of Chicago

We’re pretty confident that over the course of the last year Chicago’s thriving tech startup scene has proven the folks at PandoDaily wrong, very wrong. Chicago has one of the fastest growing startup tech scenes in the world. Their 1871 incubator and startup epicenter is amazing, producing hit after hit and now home to TechStars Chicago.
It’s this eruption of startup activity that got serial entrepreneur Kelly Schwedland and entrepreneur Nat Finn talking about what they could do on the other side of Chicago, in Valparaiso Indiana.

We’ve reported on Indiana’s other thriving startup communities, like Indianapolis, home to the Speak Easy, Developer Town and Verge Indy events. We even featured Speak Easy Executive Director Denver Hutt as one of our Bad Ass Startup Chicks.

Now, those in Northwest Indiana don’t need to head into the big city to have access to startup resources thanks to Schwedland, Finn and a host of other collaborators.

Startup Front started out as a lunch meet up for tech leaders, entrepreneurs and startup founders. Like every great startup though, they pivoted and have now become an accelerator, which will launch next year, with a ten year plan of cranking out at least 2 startups per session ripe for an IPO.

Nibletz co-founder and new CEO, Nick Tippmann,  was a guest speaker at the kick off event for the new Startup Front last week in Valparaiso. Over the next two weeks we will feature a series of videos from Startup Front that discuss building startup communities in the heartland.

Check out the video below where Tippmann interviews both Finn and Schwedland. They discuss bringing some of the attributes of the third largest city in the United States, just miles down the road to North West Indiana.

Check out Startup Front at

We’ve got more startup stories from Indiana here at

Startup Grinding Into San Antonio

Startup Grind,Startup Grind San Antonio,startup,startup event,startup commnityStartup Grind is one of the fastest growing startup movements in the country. The Mountain View based organization is “fostering entrepreneurship through story telling” at localized “fireside chat” style events.

Startup Grind was founded by Derek Anderson and his quickly grown to 40 chapters across the country. One of the latest chapters to join was Startup Grind Philly which we reported on last week.

Each city’s chapter of Startup Grind tries to attract top tier speakers, giving their local entrepreneurs and startup communities access to higher profile speakers’ than you would find at other events.

San Antonio is the newest chapter to join Startup Grind, and their first event is just under two weeks away. The April 23rd inaugural Startup Grind San Antonio event will happen at Geekdom in downtown San Antonio.

Jason Seats the cofounder of SliceHost and Managing Director of TechStars Cloud (which graduates this Thursday), is the fireside chat for the first event. The May speaer will be David Spencer, founder of OnBoard Systems. Pat Condon cofounder of Rackspace is on deck for June.

This month’s event will begin at 6pm with pizza and beer and the fireside chat with Jason Seats will kick off at 7pm. There will also be an interactive Q&A session. Early bird tickets are still available for just $10 at this link.

You can find out more about Startup Grind in your area here.

Startup founders including Jermaine Dupri talk about “Why Atlanta”


Where Do You Go With An Idea? Startup Weekend Of Course! [video][sxsw]

Marc Nager, Startup Weekend,Startup America,SXSW,SXSWi,Startup Weekend is a great event. To date they’ve done over 560 Startup Weekend’s in 107 countries and that keeps on growing. While they hold events in Silicon Valley, Startup Weekend is a huge, community catalyst “everywhere else”.

Many cities like New York, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dallas and Los Angeles have had multiple Startup Weekend events, Startup Weekend CMO Joey Pomerenke told they still get excited when newbies organize their first event.

So what role does Startup Weekend play in the grand scheme of startup communities and startup ecosystems?

Well at a panel at SXSW, Startup Weekend CEO Marc Nager, talked about that role specifically. “Where do you go with an idea” he asked the audience. Do you go to an investor, no that’s not going to work out. Do  you go spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer, and team just to start AB testing?

Startup Weekend provides a great platform to see if ideas have what it takes to move to the next level. During the 54 hour experience your peers will vote on whether they like the idea, then you’ll create something, do market research, and present it again. Doing this on your own, could take weeks, or months, with Startup Weekend you have 54 hours, and you’ll know whether to move on or not.

Does it work? Absolutely, companies like Zaarly, Rumgr, and Fundable are all Startup Weekend graduates.

Startup Weekend’s roots in the community go much further than a testing platform though. Nager said on the panel that they are working on getting different components of their own ecosystem to function in unison across the country and around the world. Startup Weekend is looking for their Startup Weekend, Startup Weekend NEXT and Startup Weekend EDU facilitators to work together in their communities. They are also looking to the Startup Digest curators to do that as well.

When all of the components work in harmony the entire Startup Weekend ecosystem, and the hundreds of communities it touches, benefit.

On the panel, moderator Lesa Mitchell, of the Kauffman Foundation, a major supporter of Startup Weekend, kept prying with Nager to find out what doesn’t work. He was hard pressed to find something that doesn’t work. Obviously at the entrepreneur level there can be issues. Egos can get in the way and even underhanded moves, like this, can get in the way.

Overall though, Startup Weekend continues to do a great job of driving communities worldwide.

Here’s that video. We’ve got more Startup Weekend coverage here, and you can find out more at

Check out more of our SXSW 2013 coverage here.

Tony Hsieh, Founder Of Zappos And Downtown Project On Startup Communities [video][sxsw]

Tony Hsieh,Zappos,Downtown Project,Vegas Tech,startup,startups,startup communities,sxsw,sxswi

Tony Hsieh proudly points out that he is wearing a Zappos t-shirt. (photo NMI 2013)

Tony Hsieh isn’t just a guy who created a household brand, made money and then decided to give some to charity. Although his Downtown project, an effort to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, is funded largely by him, he is quick to point out that it takes a village to raise a startup community.

At South By Southwest over 200 people who identified as being part of the Vegas Tech community made the trek (on their own dime) from Las Vegas to Austin to be part of SXSW. More than double that number are participating in rebuilding the downtown area of Las Vegas that “tourists don’t really see” according to Hsieh.

Hsieh and other investors have pulled together $350 million dollars to build up the community around the old city hall building, which in six months will be the new world headquarters for Zappos. Hsieh originally thought that Zappos would build it’s own campus around the block city hall is on, but than decided that doing so would be too inward focused. While Google has a lot of real estate in Mountain View and Apple has a lot of real estate in Cupertino, both company’s campuses, for the most part, keep to themselves.

“Those campuses are really insular and don’t really integrate or  contribute to the community around them” Hsieh said of Nike, Google and Apple.

Hsieh is hoping that, by recruiting statup companies, small businesses and others to the downtown area, an ecosystem will flourish and surround his own company with creative, forward thinking people.

The Downtown Project has committed $50 million to invest in small businesses, $50 million to tech startup companies, $50 million to arts, education and music and $200 million to real estate. They are trying to deal with the statistic that when a cities size doubles productivity goes up 15%, but when companies get there productivity generally goes down.

Hsieh and company have already recruited 20 startups to downtown Las Vegas. They’ve also been able to get commitments from folks that love what they are doing in Las Vegas but for some reason can’t move there. Many people have committed to speaking to the Vegas Tech Community, holding office hours or doing other community minded things.

This entire plan was demonstrated in high gear through many events at SXSW where people were packed wall to wall. It wasn’t just the 200 Las Vegas people either, people from startup communities across the country and around the world were clamoring for the opportunity to hang out with the positivity bubble that surrounds Vegas Tech.

The Vegas Tech community was also on hand throughout SXSW Interactive to show off what the community is like in hopes that the SXSW Las Vegas event this summer will be a huge success.

Check out the video below of Hsieh speaking on the Startup Communities panel at SXSW 2013.

Vegas Tech threw an awesome party at SXSW click here for photos and video

We’ve got a ton more startup coverage from SXSW here