• 63°

Discovery Luncheon, Startup Weekend return to Oxford

Innovate Mississippi is encouraging residents to participate in Startup Weekend Oxford Feb. 12-14 at the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration.

In addition, kicking off Startup Weekend activities will be a Discovery Luncheon, Innovate Mississippi’s community-based event that spotlights Mississippi’s rich entrepreneurial culture.

The Discovery Luncheon will be from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Oxford Conference Center and features guest speaker Garret Gray, president and CEO of Next Gear Solutions of Oxford. Registration is open to the public and will be available soon.

That evening, Startup Weekend will begin. An intense 54-hour event powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, Startup Weekends operates worldwide and bring together entrepreneurs, programmers, coders, developers and other business-minded individuals for a weekend of company creation.

“Startup Weekends are great, high-energy events that shortcut the process between ideas and implementation,” said Tony Jeff, president and CEO of Innovate Mississippi. “It’s great to see ideas on Friday night that transform into real businesses — some with real customers — by Sunday.”

The event begins with aspiring entrepreneurs pitching their proposals Friday night to the group, who then vote for the most promising 10 to 15 ideas. The group will divide into small teams. Each team then spends the rest of the weekend focusing on a single business idea and developing a proof of concept, demo or finished product. Volunteer mentors are on hand to help fine-tune the idea into a “working company” with potential profits. A panel of seasoned professionals evaluates each group’s created company and their chances of real-world success. The event concludes Sunday with an awards ceremony where the top three teams receive in-kind prizes from local service providers.

“We eagerly look forward to Startup Weekend every year in Oxford,” said Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette Economic Development Foundation. “It is a chance to see people with great ideas getting a chance to turn them into great companies. The Oxford entrepreneurial ecosystem is strong and supportive for the development of new businesses. The best chance for business success comes from the resources that are abundant here in Oxford.”

Contact Tasha Bibb, entrepreneurial development manager at Innovation Mississippi, at tbibb@innovate.ms to learn more about participating or the event schedule. Contact Jon Maynard at 662-234-4651 or jon@oxfordms.com for more information on sponsorship opportunities.

Visit www.up.co/communities/usa/oxford/startup-weekend/8418 to purchase tickets, which include all events and meals for the weekend. Students receive 50 percent off ticket prices.