Startup Weekend Tahoe helps entrepreneurs build businesses in just 54 hours

In November, budding entrepreneurs will converge on the Tahoe Mountain Lab in hopes of ending the weekend with a product, business plan and investors for a new startup.

Techstars Startup Weekend is coming to South Lake Tahoe from Nov. 3 – 5. The event brings together developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts to pitch ideas, form teams, build products or services, and ultimately launch startups — all in just 54 hours.

Techstars operates accelerators around the world that help startups raise funding and navigate the early stages of business through its programs, including the Startup Weekend. So far, more than 2,900 Techstars Startup Weekends have been held in 150 counties.

"It's an opportunity to test an idea that you've been kicking around in your head for a long time and actually see if it has teeth," said Jamie Orr, co-owner of the coworking space Tahoe Mountain Lab.

Friday kicks off with an evening of networking, followed by the opportunity for participants to pitch their business ideas.

"They have 60 seconds and they can't use any slides. Afterwards all the attendees vote on their favorite ideas and then form actual business teams around their favorites," explained Orr. "That's what they work on the whole weekend from that point on."

On Saturday, teams will get help from seasoned startup and tech veterans like Philip Dow, an independent software developer with a decade of experience in desktop, mobile and web applications, and Shawn Kernes, former StubHub chief technology officer and creator of the recently launched on-demand therapy app LARKR.

Regional entrepreneurs, including Allie Clift-Jennings, co-founder and CEO of Reno-based Filament, and Jen Gurecki, CEO of Truckee's Coalition Snow, will also be there to provide mentorship.

"Teams will be going through things like the business model canvas, which is a really fast and lean way to make a business plan," said Orr. "We're hoping to have a theme around innovation in mountain towns, so basically companies that could feasibly start up here in Tahoe or in similar communities, or would have some sort of civic focus on societal issues in our mountain and rural communities."

Business accelerators like NV Startup, Nevada's statewide business incubator, and EQ Ventures, a collaborative community dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs with new approaches to solving environmental issues, will be at Startup Weekend Tahoe, too.

"The hope is that if people test their ideas at Startup Weekend and pursue them, they instantly have a connection to a legitimate incubator that could help them through those initial couple of years," explained Orr.

On Sunday, the teams will present their business to a crowd and panel of experts at Lake Tahoe Community College's Duke Theatre.

In 2014, Truckee hosted the area's first Startup Weekend, paving the way for some real businesses to get off the ground, including Reno-based Panty Drop, an underwear subscription service for women.

So far, roughly 25 individuals have signed up for the weekend, which costs $99 and includes seven meals. The organizers hope to bring that number up to 75-80 in the next two weeks.

A majority of the participants signing up are from the Lake Tahoe area, but participants are welcome from all over.

"We're also working heavily to recruit students for the event," said Orr.

To find out more about Startup Weekend Tahoe or to sign up, visit


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