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Set the pace here in Oxford

Brilliant minds gathered in Oxford starting Friday for the Discovery Luncheon and Startup Weekend.

The events returned to Oxford thanks to Innovate Mississippi, the University of Mississippi’s School of Business Administration, Insight Park and the Oxford-Lafayette Economic Development Foundation.

The Discovery Luncheon brought in speakers and allowed for networking opportunities among creative entrepreneurs. The Startup Weekend kicked off Friday night and was 54 hours of intense workshops with 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 began with creative minds pitching their ideas to the entire group, which then voted for the top 10 to 15 ideas. After that, the group divided into small teams and spent the weekend developing a proof of concept, demo or finished product. Volunteer mentors were on hand to helped teams fine-tune their idea into a “working company” with potential profits.

The event concludes today with an awards ceremony where the top three teams receive in-kind prizes from local companies.

We hope that participants are able to leave Oxford today, or return to their homes in Oxford if local, with generated ideas to bring back to their businesses, start one of their own or help others in their community. We are grateful for all the local support and resources to be able to have the event to begin with. If it weren’t for the business culture and community here in Oxford, our area would not be as vibrant or have as much to offer.

“The Oxford entrepreneurial ecosystem is strong and supportive for the development of new businesses,” said Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette Economic Development Foundation. “The best chance for business success comes from the resources that are abundant here in Oxford.”