Startup Weekend brings Global Startup Battle to UT campus in November

Startup Weekend events have helped shape the entrepreneurial community of Tampa Bay in recent years, with notable businesses and connections forming as a result of the 54-hour weekend coding and creating marathons.

83 Degrees asked Startup Weekend event co-organizer Michael LaPlante what's new and fresh about this year's meetup, who might want to attend, and how Startup Weekend has impacted Tampa Bay. LaPlante, who earned a BS in web design from Full Sail University in Orlando and runs a web development business in Tampa, has helped organize several Startup Weekend events and curates Tampa Bay Startup Digest.

Check out the Q&A below to see his responses and score a $25 coupon code for Techstar's Startup Weekend Tampa Bay, which will take place at the University of Tampa's John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center November 13-15, 2015.

83 Degrees: What's new or different this year at Startup Weekend?
MP: This year, we are really trying to blow it out of the park during the Global Startup Battle event. There are more prizes and tracks to advance to than ever before. We are really trying to connect to the community this event, and we have teamed up with the University of Tampa to also reach out to the younger crowd. 

83D: How is the event financed? Is the city or county providing funds? 
MP: In the past, we have worked with Hillsborough County through their EDI2 grant to help fund our event along with sponsors, but this year we are back to hitting the ground and finding local community sponsors that can make the event possible. If [you] want to get [your] name out there, definitely reach out. Nothing is too big or too small, and it all goes back to making the Tampa Bay community even more awesome.

83D: Who would you recommend consider registering to participate in Startup Weekend?
MP: Anyone with an idea, or an itch to solve a problem: this is your space to be. Whether you are new to the area, or have been here for years, you can always meet new people and grow your network. 

The amount I see people grow in the span of 54 hours during our events is tremendous. I can guarantee everyone will learn something. I have been doing these for almost five years, and have been involved in more than 20 in some way, shape, or form, and I still learn something new every time.

83D: Do you think SW events have positively impacted the community in the past few years? How/why?
MP: I certainly think the past events have greatly impacted our community. We have seen companies form, friendships and partnerships birthed, and ideas come to life. I still hear buzz all throughout the year about the events... I am constantly asked when the next event will be, because someone has an idea they would love to pitch.

Our goal is to show anyone they can follow their dream and build a thriving business here in the Tampa Bay region, and we work with awesome partners and sponsors to help bring that to life.

83D: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
MP: Readers can use code “83DEGREES” to get $25 off any normal price ticket.

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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