Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

An Entrepreneurial Weekend–Nov 9th


South Bend’s 2nd Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is for you.
Have a dream? One you thought of long ago or one you thought of last week?
Have an idea? For South Bend or for the world stage?
Have a skill? Doesn’t relate to the web or business – no problem, bring it- it’ll be useful.
Startup Weekend is about community, fun, and learning. Filling a room with open-minded people who have the passion and drive to attend, who have a desire to help and engage our community, and who love what they do culminates in a safe environment for experimentation. Once the weekend is over many startup weekenders walk away with some great new friendships, shared experiences, and an extra pep in their step. Some will walk away with a new venture to work on; they may even have a team to work with. Either way, Startup Weekend is about connection, learning, and production – all of which you’ll only have a chance to experience if you attend.
Registration is only $25 for the entire weekend, Friday at 6pm through Sunday at 6pm – Come and go as you please. The event is free for spectators and children under 13. Snacks, drinks, and some meals will be provided.
The energetic mayor Pete will jumpstart the weekend Friday night, our facilitator – David is traveling to South Bend from Seattle for the event, and the President and COO of the first business at Ignition Park, Rich Carlton of Data Realty is one of our judges – ladies/gentleman, South Bend has a tech scene…get connected!

Register now, more information at southbend.startupweekend.org


Creativity, Entrepreneurship, StartupWeekend, Garages and Warehouses

What percentage of recent startups began in a garage? How long do you work out of your garage before you can afford a regular office or manufacturing facility? If you had VC investors, should you accept their money and move out of the garage? Advantages of staying in your garage?


  • YouTube. Started in a garage.
  • Google. 1998. Started in a garage.
  • Apple. 1976. Started in a garage.
  • HP. 1939. Started in a garage.
  • Mattel. 1940’s. Started in a garage.
  • Amazon. 1994. Started in a garage.
  • MagLite. 1970’s.
  • Yankee Candle Company. 1990’s.
  • Harley Davidson. 1901.

See? It’s all about the garage. The metaphor for American ingenuity and innovation. So…

If you live in or near South Bend, Indiana you’re in for a treat the weekend of Nov. 9-11th.  Oh, and the event is being held, not exactly in a garage, but we think a warehouse comes close. For more information or to register: http://southbend.startupweekend.org/


[ norvaljohnson.com does set designs, but I’ve seen real garages like this!]

Our SouthBend StartupWeekend “warehouse” is the former AJ Wright building in this short window of availability before new tenants move in to newly named: Interstate 80 Commerce Center, another innovative re-purposing!


Observations on Entrepreneurialism, Startups and Education

Normally I write about higher ed and educational technology of some sort. This post is about the startup weekend I attended at Innovation Park, Notre Dame’s entrepreneurial incubator. Bear with me there *is* a connection.

The competition’s finalists all presented evidence of their proposition’s value addition to the marketplace. This included the ideas which, as solutions, were “solutions” to pretty trivial problems in the grand scheme of things. One of the finalists, for example, will be launching a smartphone app which creates a connection between you and the clubs you attend – effectively moving you to the head of long lines and helping you and your friends decide which club to meet up at that evening.

Startup Weekend” is a competition. The organizers are out of Portland and have over a thousand such events under their belts. The teams that form around each idea are teams of volunteers (who’ve paid to participate). I think we can all agree pulling a startup idea out of the oven depends on the characteristics, individual and jointly, of the team surrounding the idea. The same was true of winning the competition – but awkwardly enough, not every team knew this.

My view at the table? I participated on the team that formed around the pitch given by a special ed language arts teacher from Ohio. Faced with the K-12 adoption of the Common Core Standards and the need to provide his less able students with enough drill practice to succeed, at least by the standard measurements, his vision was for a software product he and his peers could use that would map practice activities to the standards to progress reports that teachers and administrators could use. Yep, sounds like where I could make a contribution. More than that, sounded like a winner. As a FIRST Lego League robotics coach, I’m regularly exposed to the hype over STEM subjects, and sure enough, there are companies with the goal of building such a software for the Math standards. For Language Arts? Not so much.  I was excited at how this business proposal was a convergence of many areas in which I have experience, not least of these my degree in Applied Linguistics, experience teaching EFL, and as volunteer tech implementor for my kids’ K-8 school. Very cool.

Startup Weekend included local leaders. They spoke about: Social consciousness. Give-back to the community. What we can do for community development.

Here are the dots I’m connecting –


  • It’s fairly obvious higher ed will not survive unless we change. We’ve been doing so incrementally: startup weekends, entrepreneurial programs, engineering emphases, interdisciplinary programs, undergrad research angles. Changing traditional brick and mortar schools into something more fluid and flexible is hard.  In many ways we don’t even want to do it. We have our traditions. Time-honored. Founded in #### before the Mayflower. Alumni who send their kids to the school because of the tradition which was so important to them.
  • But find out how your alumi have made their money and perhaps you see that they have become what your institution needs to become.
  • Less formal. More collaborative. Students – Faculty – Administrators – Businesses building something together for now for the institution and for the student to take with them at graduation. Apprenticeships over Internships?
  • Less rigid and traditional. More reconstructive.
  • Let’s model in our own business practice the practices we must teach to the next generation.