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Creativity takes center stage at June startup event

Up Global’s Startup Weekend events often bring together a city’s brightest techies, entrepreneurs and advocates for innovation. In June, for the first time in Tampa, entrepreneurs and artists will have the chance to create, invent and innovate during Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay.

The new event is the result of the strong showing of the creative community during Tampa’s inaugural Startup Week in February 2015, event co-organizer Ryan Sullivan explains.

“Creatives, just like everyone else, experience challenges on a daily basis, and we wanted to provide them with a platform to solve those problems,” Sullivan says.

The three-day event will follow the traditional Startup Weekend format – over the course of 54 hours, Tampa Bay designers, developers, entrepreneurs and experts from all domains will come together to create an innovative solution to a real-world problem.

This time, the focus is on the challenges faced by those in the creative industry. Local fashion entrepreneurs, interior designers, architects, graphic artists and other creatives are invited to join in on the collaborative event.

Anyone can pitch an idea; teams form around the most popular ones. Over the next few days, teams work to develop a product and a business model to bring their idea to life – this time, with creativity in mind. On the last night, teams will present their visions to local entrepreneurial leaders from creative or design industries and one team will be named the winner.

The goals of a Startup Weekend event in any community are to educate people about entrepreneurship and to encourage networking, says Sullivan, who has organized multiple Up Global events including Startup Week and Startup Weekend Youth Tampa Bay. He anticipates around 50 attendees for the region’s first design-focused startup weekend. 

Lisa Gilmore, founder and lead interior designer at Lisa Gilmore Design, anticipates networking with members of the local creative community during the upcoming Startup Weekend Design event.

“As a creative myself, I know that we can run a bit wild with our ideas,” Gilmore says, “and collaborating with other professionals during Startup Weekend will be beneficial in bringing some of those ideas and dreams to life!”

Startup Weekend Design Edition co-organizer Nancy Vaughn has previously participated in and sponsored Startup Weekend events, and “experienced first-hand the impact that Startup Weekend has on the community,” she explains. As for potential outcomes of the event, Vaughn, principal at White Book Agency, hopes to see “some cool creative businesses started.”

Vaughn, creator of Tampa Bay Fashion Week, suggests examples including “an app that takes everyday colors for use in textiles or wallpaper, or maybe a new runway show seating platform, or wearable technology that allows for automatic VIP check-in. Can someone make that, please?”

“More importantly, I hope that great connections are formed, new ideas are sparked and launched, and everyone has a good time working together,” Vaughn says. 

Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay will begin at 6:30 pm on June 5 and conclude in the late evening hours of June 7. The 54-hour make-fest will unfold at CoWork Tampa, 3104 North Armenia Ave. Ste 2.

To register, or learn more about the weekend’s schedule, visit the Startup Weekend Design Edition, Tampa Bay website. Be sure to use the code "83D'' for $25 off. 

Discover more upcoming entrepreneurially minded events in the Tampa Bay area, like Startup Weekend Tampa Bay Youth (May 15-17), in the 83 Degrees Spring/Summer 2015 startup events guide.

Read more articles by Justine Benstead.

Justine Benstead is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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