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Startup Weekend Memphis Kicks Off After Four Year Hiatus

The first officially sanctioned Startup Weekend event in Memphis TN was back in 2008. This year Startup Weekend is back in Memphis and has been spearheaded by startup evangelist James Ruffer along with Chris Przybyszewski and Amanda Lewis.

Ruffer and Przybszewski kicked off the event Friday night with some great authentic Memphis Barbecue provided by Baby Jacks. After that the fun and games started with a general overview of the event, the sponsors and of course the prizes.

For this years event there will be three finalists selected who will each receive $1000 in cash, 9 hours of free legal services from Butler Snow and 9 hours of free financial advice from local accounting firm Collins Thomas & Associates. Also the “grand prize” winner will receive consultation services from Southern Growth Studios who are local experts on developing business plans.  The national sponsors also kicked in with free cloud based services including the use of AWS for the weekend, should one of the ideas need it.

16 ideas were pitched from a variety of categories including elder care, music education and instruction, services for spanish speaking people, an auction site for nearly abandoned startup ideas and even a web app idea to “Keep politicians on the straight and narrow”.

The four ideas that were selected were, an local event aggregation and discovery app tentatively called “Event Czar”; CoachSpeak a social network for professional coaches; Buyers Unite an almost flash like buyers group; Legacy Interview, a mobile application that lets anyone capture interview vignettes on video question by question in separate files; and Clockout a socially enabled time clock management system for small businesses.  Yes that’s five but clockout is a solo entrepreneur who will develop his idea on his own this weekend and compete against the other four teams on Sunday.

Both Ruffer and Przybyszewski are no strangers to entrepreneurism. Ruffer has a variety of entrepreneurial endeavors under his belt. Right now he works in social media security, financial security and online security. This is Ruffer’s 13th Startup Weekend that he’s either attended or help organize.

Przbyszewski (I’m hoping that’s the last time I need to type that), is currently working on his third startup right now down the street at the Launch Memphis, LaunchPad which actually is in the field of veterinary medicine. Their startup is under wraps but the team behind it has a great idea, that’s being tested and will help curb a problem that kills animals, is a big concern for dogs and can affect people as well. It targets one of the top 10 diseases that doctor’s must inform the CDC about, really big impotent stuff.

So with both of this weekends organizers enmeshed in pretty big day jobs they wanted this startup weekend to be a little light, fun and collaborative. In Ruffer’s experience attending 13 Startup Weekend events he’s seen the entire gambit from hardcore, bootcamp style Startup Weekends to the lighthearted and laid back, creative juice flowing weekends like this.

At the end of the day, or actually the end of the weekend, the ideas that want to continue to grow have a variety of resources available to them including Launch Memphis, the Launch Pad and Seed Hatchery. When asked about competing with Launch Memphis’ 48 hour launch event just six weeks ago, Ruffer said that Memphis has grown so much that the city itself can support a variety of events adding “When the tide rises all the ships sail”. At the end of the day it’s about everyone supporting entrepreneurship and startup culture in Memphis.


The official Startup Weekend Memphis landing page

Nibletz is the voice of startups “everywhere else” here are more stories from Memphis

We’re on a sneaker-strapped nationwide startup road-trip going “everywhere else” until September 2013, help the cause here


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