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Friday, 10 October 2014 12:21

Past Participants Find Success after StartUp Weekend Saratoga

By | Business

Participants Agree SWS Experience was Powerful, Educational

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Registration is now open for the third annual StartUp Weekend-Saratoga, hosted by In Focus Brands. The collaborative and intense 54-hour event will be held November 14-16 at the Fragomeni Insurance Building, located at 3257 Route 9, in Saratoga Springs.  

The weekend brings people with different skillsets together to formulate and to present successful ventures to launch. Manufacturing, IT, medical, finance, media and software are some of the industries that are expected to be represented.

“We are very excited to be running our third StartUp Weekend, especially since we will be part of Global StartUp Week which includes an international video competition for our participating teams,” said Robert Manasier, lead organizer and facilitator.

Now in its third event, organizers are hoping SWS will draw even more participants to increase the networking pool. While the goal of the event is to create successful entrepreneurs, many past participants shared that regardless of the outcome the event provides a powerful and educational experience.

Past participant and Long Island native, Chris Horn, was involved in SWS in January of 2013. He says the experience brought him exactly what he was looking for.

“I thought it would be a good way to meet people and turn the people that I meet into opportunities so that I could move [to Saratoga,]” said Horn. “One of the judges was the vice president of product development for the company I now work for. I work with him on developing software for e-commerce.”

During SWS, Horn was involved with a team that developed Caroline Calls – a phone reminder service for the elderly. The service would make daily calls to those signed up for it, with appointment reminders, medication reminders, social calendar events, etc. “Caroline” was the persona or the human face for the business – think of “Flo” from Progressive Insurance.

“The way the idea evolved was we began looking at services for the aging. There are a lot of baby boomers that are going to be aging out,” said Horn. “The idea was you as a concerned family member can sign them up for this service and have a personalized, friendly lady to call you up and remind you to do stuff. It’s better than an impersonal device that doesn’t include social interaction.”

Horn said the group learned a lot from its experience at StartUp Weekend Saratoga and the most valuable part of the event was the tremendous amount of knowledge and insight gained at the end of the process.

“The value of the weekend is that it teaches you how to look with a critical eye at business ideas and evaluate them,” said Horn. “The practice is running through that critical look at business ideas. It’s a fun process. You also work on presentation skills. At the end of the day, it’s a competition. You have to have the proper analysis that demonstrates and properly argues why your business should be the one someone puts their hard-earned dollars into.”

Cory Leveen participated in StartUp Weekend Saratoga in the spring of 2013 while he was a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. The business he developed at SWS, Munch Match, helped amateur chefs host dinner parties and network with those looking for services. Leveen said he got great feedback from the SWS judging panel and became an entrepreneur later on.

“I created a company with a friend of mine after the event was over and I worked on it for about a year while I was still in school,” said Leveen. “Then I changed careers and I’m now a freelance web developer in New York City.”

While Leveen isn’t on the entrepreneurial path anymore, he says the SWS provides a priceless experience.

“The event itself is so rewarding,” said Leveen. “You meet such smart, motivated people and you hear so many interesting ideas. It’s really fantastic. I found it to be great on so many levels and the people involved were awesome.”

This StartUp Weekend will have a new element – viral video creation. All teams will be uploading videos to be part of the Global StartUp Competition, a possible regional competition for the winners. In Focus Brands is also exploring in experts from around the globe to coach via Skype.

“It’s exciting to see a group of unassociated individuals team up to formulate a plan with the common goal of launching a business,” said David Fragomeni, event organizer and coach. “The video aspect to the event adds another layer of access to possible funding and interest for our participants this year.”

To register, visit http://saratoga.up.co/events/4714

In Focus Brands also has five sponsorship packages for business and organizations interested in getting involved. Contact Robert Manasier for more information at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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