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Startup Weekend organizers hope to spark entrepreneurs





If you have an idea for a new business but don't know how to get started, the inaugural Startup Weekend at Fort Hays State University might be for you.

On Nov. 15 to 17 at McCartney Hall on the FHSU campus, entrepreneurs will meet to share ideas and launch new businesses.

"Most of these events take place in larger, urban areas," said Henry Schwaller IV, a business teacher at FHSU and also a small businessman who helped organize the event. "They're all over the world, actually, so the first one here in Hays, Kan., is really important.

"It's an amazing, global phenomena that's been going around since 2006. What it does is bring people together who have an interest in starting (a business)."

According to a news release, more than 8,000 startups have been created through more than 1,000 events around the world.

Schwaller previously attended a Startup Weekend in Wichita and plans to attend another one this week in Columbia, Mo.

"It sounds dry -- coming together, writing a business plan -- but it's not," Schwaller said. "It's a lot of fun; there's a lot of enthusiasm and energy."

On the first night, people are divided into groups and pitch ideas. The groups vote on which ideas are best. On Saturday, each group puts together a business plan and other things needed to start a business.

On Sunday, the finalists make their pitch to a panel of judges, which decides the top three winners. That part of the weekend is open to the public.

"It's not uncommon for businesses to come out of a Startup Weekend and have customers that Sunday evening," Schwaller said.

FHSU's involvement is "part of the university's general shift toward entrepreneurship, certainly in the college of business," Schwaller said.

"We're excited about it, because we want to attract more than just college students," Schwaller said. "We think the audience for this can not only be western Kansas, but also eastern Colorado and southern Nebraska.

"There are a lot of people in this area that have great ideas for new businesses, but they're not quite sure how to go about doing it."

Registration is $60. For additional information or to register online, visit hays.startupweekend.org.