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Year in Review: Startup event attracts attention

Posted: December 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Brian Ragazzi, standing, works with the Muster group as they work on a startup company for event planning at the SCV Startup Weekend held in Valencia in October.

 

 Editors Note: This series highlights and updates noteworthy business events from 2012.

 

Joining the ranks of a grassroots, global movement, the first-ever Startup Weekend Santa Clarita not only sold out in October, but doubled projected attendance.

And based on response, organizers are already discussing a 2013 event.

“We were asked by a lot of people to let them into the last event or when the next one will occur,” said Erick Arndt, co-organizer and founder of SCV Startup, an entrepreneurial tech group. “They really want to be part of the next one here.”

Held in an empty storefront on Town Center Drive, Oct. 5–7, the event drew participants from Santa Clarita, Burbank, Irvine, Westwood, Bakersfield and more.

Among the participants, three teams of the eight teams formed to build and launch a company in 54 hours.

“The Startup Weekend people told us to plan for only 20 participants at the first event, based on the size of Santa Clarita,” said Erick Arndt, co-organizer. “But we sold out at 40 and had to admit three more people at the last minute.”

Among the attendees was Adrian Chernoff, of Westwood, who arrived Friday evening pumped up for the opportunity to join the event and “collaborate with people creating a business on the fly,” he said.

Chernoff has some 89 patents and is credited with being the chief architect and principal inventor behind General Motor’s “Reinvention of the Automobile” chronicled in CNN Money magazine. He has also worked with Disney, NASA, Magna International, OppenheimerFunds, Eastman Kodak and more.

“What a cool guy,” said Brian Tippy, co-organizer of the event. “It really does validate the kind of talent we can attract at this event.”

And passersby stood outside and watched the event unfold.

Business support

Because the event was held in a store front, so many people in Santa Clarita stopped by the event and asked to participate or find out what was happening, Arndt said.

“We had to explain it wasn’t an aquarium; that people were working on creating a business and solving problems,” he said.

Luckily, local businesses also stepped up to the plate to support the event, including the Westfield Valencia Town Center, TCAST Communications Inc., Influxis, and Western Bagel on Valencia Blvd. TCAST set up and monitored all of the Internet connections and live video streaming was provided by Influxis.

“It was really well received,” Arndt said. “The woman from Western Bagel was excited and asked if it was like the “Shark Tank” show. Everybody made the connection.”

Organizations from outside Santa Clarita supported the local effort as well, he said. Pasadena Angels, Clearstone Venture Partners of Santa Monica, Fortis General Counsel, San Francisco-based Meraki and more helped support the weekend event.

The winning startup business team, Zejoop, won a free incorporation package and six hours of legal counsel from Fortis General Counsel LLP, one of the event sponsors, said Brian Tippy, co-organizer of the event.

Zejoop also won a working lunch with Clearstone Venture Partners of Palo Alto and Santa Monica.

“We set up the working session with Clearstone because that’s the most important and difficult thing to do when you’re a startup is to get the ear of someone who is credible; who can give you great feedback,” Arndt said.

Money is important to a startup business owner, he said, but not the most important.

“You can burn through it without knowing what you’re doing. Knowledge infinitely more important,” Arndt said.

But the event did more than support local entrepreneurs; it also helped put a spotlight on Santa Clarita.

Spotlight

Tyler Koblasa of the Seattle-based Startup Weekend organization told Arndt he was impressed by the strong support for the local event, saying the “Los Angeles event never gets support like that,” Arndt said.

Steve Reich, member of the Pasadena Angels board of directors, also stopped by the event because it was a good opportunity to get involved in the local community.

“A lot of people from angel groups are watching and hoping for some momentum in Santa Clarita,” said Dave Trogan, a member of Pasadena Angels and a Santa Clarita resident.

The event also brought local businesses together.

“I didn’t even know there was a tech community here,” said Collin Lee, media director for Influxis.

As for benefiting the local community, business growth in the tech arena has to start somewhere, said Calvin Hedman, president of Hedman Partners and co-chairman of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp.

“If we really want to have the tech business locate in our city, we have to encourage that any way we can,” he said. “These people and businesses generate energy but have to get to the next step with funding.”

As for this year’s Startup Weekend event and planning for one in 2013, Arndt said that for the organizers – himself, Tippy and Eric Hayes – it was an opportunity to bring a worldwide event to Santa Clarita.

jana@signalscv.com

661-287-5599

 

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