Startup Weekend: 54 Hours to Bring a Business to Life

Startup Weekend Orange County

During a weekend in November, students, graduates and professionals came together in a global competition with one common goal: to create a new business.

“Startup Weekend is a 54-hour competition where developers, designers, marketers and start-up enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch start-ups,” according to Startup Weekend Orange County.

In the hectic 54 hours that began on Friday November 22,  each group had to focus on customer development, validating their business idea, practicing LEAN startup methodologies and building a minimally viable product.

These events occur in more than 200 cities around the world, and during the weekend of Nov. 22, the local competition came to nearby Chapman University.

Cal State Fullerton student Quinn Royston ’14 (entrepreneurship and psychology) participated for the first time and joined RV Sherpa, a start-up company that will help lease out the vehicles during their slower months.

“Most recreational RV’s are unrented for approximately 285 days out of the year.  That’s a long time to have inventory just lying around. It’s obvious that a solution to this would be great for the RV rental industry,” says Royston. “RV Sherpa is that solution.”

The RV Sherpa Team (from left to right): Quinn Royston, James Tomsco, Raj Mitra, Ryne O’Donnell, Leah Sukenik, Jordan Jacobsma, Darshan Meda, John Alexander, and Ernest Priestly.

Upon arriving for competition kick-off on Friday night, Royston explains that some people already have groups or business products and services in mind.

In an “open mic” platform, individuals pitch their ideas to conference attendees. Afterward, groups with complementary business products or services merge, and entrepreneurs can also seek out attendees with the expertise they need – designers, coders or business planners, for example.

With his skills in business and website development, Royston was asked to join the RV Sherpa group by its leadership, CEO John Alexander and Ernest Priestly, chief technology officer.

“At the event I mocked up a website, created short videos about RV Sherpa and helped with business development,” says Royston.

On Sunday, Nov. 24, the groups presented their prototypes and gave a five-minute pitch to the panel of judges – entrepreneurs and other experts from Chapman University – and RV Sherpa tied for first place.

“Because it was a tie, we are now competing with the other first-place team for a spot in the K5 Incubator at Chapman along with $25,000 in funding,” Royston explains. “We were one of the top two teams at Startup Weekend Orange County, so we are also engaged in the first round of the global startup battle until December 6.”

This following phase of the competition has teams from various countries competing in five separate categories, known as “circles.”

RV Sherpa focused on two different circles, the Activate Circle and the E-Commerce Circle. Iran, France, Australia, Greece, New Zealand, Brazil and Germany are among the other countries that are in the running within the five circles.

Within each separate circle, including Women’s Circle, Champion’s Circle and the Innovator’s Circle, the top 15 teams will  move onto yet another phase of the global competition.

On Friday December 6 the voting closed for each circle, and RV Sherpa placed 14th in the E-Commerce Circle and made it to 7th place in the Activate Circle.

Winners for the Circles were announced on December 18, and although RV Sherpa did not make it to the top, they are still pursing their startup business. To learn more about the company or to find out how to rent an RV, visit info@rvsherpa.com.

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