USI hosts first Startup Weekend Evansville


The University of Southern Indiana College of Business, with support from the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville (GAGE), is bringing Evansville’s first Startup Weekend entrepreneurial initiative to the USI Business and Engineering Center February 24-26.

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event in which developers, designers, marketers, product managers, and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups. Entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if their ideas are viable and work together to turn ideas into workable business concepts over the course of the weekend.

Bryan Bourdeau, USI instructor in business, is organizing the event along with Dana Nelson of Out Cloud; Doug Briody, attorney at law; Michael Effron of Oliver Wight Americas; Janet Laane Effron of Four Rivers Group, LLC; and Andrew Heil of Ariens Company.

Bourdeau, who teaches business and entrepreneurship courses, said, “Thirty-six percent of participants who come to Startup Weekend – who spend that 54 hours and fully immerse – launch their businesses after that weekend, and 80 percent of the teams continue to work. It’s very impressive.”

The event is open to anyone with a business idea – or a kernel of an idea. “It’s competitively-driven,” Bourdeau said. “If you have an idea and you want to attract people to be on your development team and work with you over the weekend, you make a pitch. If your idea is a go or no-go, you can easily find out in 54 hours.”

About 60 people are expected to participate in the event, which will begin Friday night with open-mic pitches – 60 seconds in which attendees pitch their ideas in an effort to inspire others to join their teams. (Bourdeau has posted a blog on how to perfect your pitch on the Startup Weekend Evansville web site.)

Over the course of the weekend there will be brief remarks by Dr. Drew Peyronnin, co-owner and executive vice president of Peyronnin Construction Company, Inc., on angel investing, and a representative from NSWC Crane on technology transfer, and teams will focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies, and building a minimal viable product. Sunday evening, teams will demonstrate their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.

“The whole weekend is designed to roll up your sleeves and work, work, work, work, work,” Bourdeau said. “Saturday is about working with mentors to get what you need. Sunday morning will focus on that final pitch; you’re going to pitch your more fleshed-out idea to a panel of judges that day. The winner of the pitch competition will get a nice prize pack and go on to compete globally.”

Registration information is at Tickets for students are on $35 and the “early bird” ticket price for all non-students has been extended to February 1. Call Bourdeau at 812/430-0350 for more information or email

You can follow Startup Weekend Evansville on Twitter at @StartupEvv and on Facebook at

Founded in 2007, Startup Weekend had built a network of over 25,000 alumni, 150 volunteer organizers and 60 trained facilitators spread across more than 100 cities in 30 countries by the end of 2010. Other Startup Weekend events in February will be held across the U.S. and in Canada, Netherlands, Brazil, Greece, India, Spain, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Australia, Jordan, Romania, Pakistan, South Korea, South Africa, and elsewhere.

“I am excited that this is a first for Evansville,” Bourdeau said.