For 54 hours starting Friday night, local entrepreneurs, developers and designers will match wits to see who can create the best new business at Startup Weekend Tampa Bay.
It's the fourth local version of an international event that's been held in over 200 cities around the world, but the first time it's taking place in St. Petersburg.
In addition to the competition, participants will hear from speakers, like Anton Holdings President and CEO, William Anton, and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer-turned-foundation chair Ryan Nece. Contestants will also receive coaching from a panel of experts, including Ronald Pruett, Jr., CEO of As Seen on TV, Inc, and Joey Redner, founder/CEO of Cigar City Brewing.
Reuben Pressman is one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Tampa Bay. He says the 150 competitors will be split into about 10 to 15 teams that then have to come up with not just a business plan, but ways of making that plan come to life.
"The planning is the very initial part and most of the competition is executing on that plan, so it's a great way to learn extremely important skills in a start-up that normally take months and months and months of time, crashed into one weekend," he said.
The winning team receives small prizes, but can get financial backing from Startup Weekend organizers if they eventually incorporate their business.
Two of the previous local winners, mobile app designers Kngroo and Dropost.it, have since received support from start-up business accelerator Gazelle Lab. Representatives from the winner of the most recent local competition, Exmo, will be at this weekend's contest, providing an app for the event.
There are still some slots open for competitors, with the contest getting under way Friday night at 6 p.m. in the USF St. Petersburg University Student Center Ballroom. The final presentations will be made in the Ballroom at 5 p.m. Sunday at an event open to the public. Tickets are $20.