Tech Events for Hackers and Entrepreneurs Highlight Busy November

Photo: At last year's Startup Weekend Madison, participants voted for the best ideas and selected teams. Photo Credit: FDU/ James Barrood

At last year’s Startup Weekend Madison, participants voted for the best ideas and selected teams. | FDU/ James Barrood

N.J. tech startups and developers who want to learn about entrepreneurship should be aware of several inspiring events happening in November.

They include Lean Newark; New Jersey Startup Weekend; and, for college student hackers, Hack.Princeton at Princeton University.

Lean Newark

Lean Newark, an event that challenges entrepreneurs who have an idea for a business to get out and validate it with prospective customers, will take place the weekend of Nov. 8-10, part of Newark Tech Week.

In fact, Lean Newark, to be held at Seed Gallery, strongly encourages entrepreneurs to attend if they have new ideas that they are unsure have a market fit.

The organizers warn that if you plan to work on an existing project, you should bring at least one cofounder with you. If you have existing cofounders and none of them attends, you’ll have to work on a new startup idea. Also, it’s too difficult for other participants to join a team that already has domain knowledge.

In 2 1/2 days, entrepreneurs form a team around an idea and then get to work. They are urged to get out of the building and find potential clients to give them feedback, and they learn to use online tools to quickly test ideas. The entrepreneurs are mentored by a group of accomplished startup founders and lean startup experts.

Here is a list of many of the mentors and speakers for Lean Newark; others were just recently added and you can find them on the website.

Startup Weekend New Jersey [UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED]

The following weekend, Nov. 15-17, is Startup Weekend New Jersey, to be held at the JuiceTank coworking facility (Somerset). Basically, at a startup weekend, founders try to jumpstart a tech business.

All startup weekends follow the same basic model, as described on the website. Anyone is welcome to pitch a startup idea and receive feedback from peers. Teams form organically around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote), then it’s a 54-hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing and market validation.

The weekends culminate with presentations to local entrepreneurial leaders, providing another opportunity for critical feedback.

Sometimes individual entrepreneurs attend startup weekends. Often a two-person team comes to look for a technical cofounder, whom they find at this kind of event. And frequently technical cofounders head to the event looking for ideas they can sink their skills into. Depending on the startup weekend at hand, individuals can migrate from one team to another during the weekend. This blog post gives some ideas on how to make the most from Startup Weekend.

Coaches for the weekend will include Mukesh Patel, CEO and founder of JuiceTank; Seth Tropper, director of operations at the Office of Technology Commercialization at Rutgers (New Brunswick) and CEO of Switch2Health; David Sorin, attorney and managing partner at SorinRand (East Brunswick), and Lindsay Sorin and David Matlin, also of that firm; Steven Royster, senior venture officer at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA)  (Trenton); Mark Ciapka, founder of Applied Dynamic Solutions (Somerset); Nis Frome, cofounder of startup Hublished (New York); Michael Calamusa and Todd Ryan, designers with Aardvark Brigade (Somerset); and Jeffrey Robinson, assistant professor and senior fellow at Rutgers Business School (Newark).

Hack.Princeton

Aimed at college students, Hack.Princeton, a project of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club, is billed as “48 hours, 500+ hackers, 40+ universities, $20,000 in prizes.” It begins at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8 and concludes at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10.

The hackathon asks students to “develop for something new, explore that itch in your head, or simply just work on something you don’t normally work on” all with mentors to support them as they try something new.

There are separate software and hardware tracks for the hackers, depending on their interests. No need to bring a team or even an idea to this hackathon. Say the organizers, “We will have sessions to help people find team members and/or form teams, as well as an idea generation workshop to help people think of ideas to work on for the hackathon.”

Students who don’t have a tech background may attend the hackathon but are urged to work on a team with people who do. Princeton and the hackathon’s sponsors will provide all meals.

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