Entrepreneurs Gather At “Hackathon” To Learn Skills, Test Ideas

By Natalie Weber The Denver Post

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The "Entrepreneurship Hackathon" is an education-focused weekend for startups and potential startups hosted by Google Grow and Boulder-based TechStars at the University of Denver.

The Denver Post

It all started with a high school field trip.

After traveling to Costa Rica with her classmates, Jenny Rudnicki, 24, knew she wanted to do something to help women gain access to education -- -- particularly in more remote areas.

"I met this 3-year-old girl who you could tell was quite bright and just by where she was growing up it didn't seem like she'd have access to technology at all, and her education will be limited," Rudnicki said. "So ideally it would be really cool to do something that would help people like that because in today's world, technology is power and for those that lack it and lack access to it, there can be sometimes a knowledge gap."

Rudnicki attends Galvanize, a technical school in Denver focused on entrepreneurship. She was a participant in this weekend's "Entrepreneurship Hackathon," an education-focused weekend for startups and potential startups hosted by Google Grow and Boulder-based TechStars at the University of Denver.

Throughout the weekend, participants will pitch projects focused on improving education -- whether through technology, a new program or even a new school. Then, participants will form groups to turn their ideas into a reality, gain feedback from entrepreneurship mentors and compete for prizes on Sunday.

Graham Forman, lead organizer of the weekend, said the goal of the hackathon was twofold: to have fun and to give participants a rich experience that will hopefully inspire new startups and companies.

"The remarkable thing about it is how much work they actually get done over the course of the weekend," Forman said. "I've been around startups for years, and honestly there are startup teams that don't get as much done in a couple of months as the teams get done this weekend."

House District 2 Representative Alec Garnett, D-Denver, who spoke at the event's kick-off night, said he looked forward to seeing what new projects participants developed.

"House District 2 is the youngest house district based on average age of voter in the state, so it's great to come to these cool hip events where a lot of young people are coming together to think through the next great idea," he said.

Jamie Hill, a Google spokeperson and mentor at the event, said she hoped participants would gain the connections and knowledge necessary to bring their creative ideas to life.

"I hope that participants make great connections with other entrepreneurs and other developers and other people who are interested in this space," she said. "We hope they are able to connect with great mentors and volunteers and are able to really perfect the practice and the skills it takes to take something from an idea and work it into a pitch and then connect it to something even larger."

For beginning entrepreneurs, startup weekends are one of the best paths to success, Jordan Rothenberg, TechStar Regional Manager of Communications, said.

"This is the best way to access entrepreneurship, at a TechStar startup weekend and with the support from Grow with Google and that initiative, it's making entrepreneurship even more accessible," he said. "This is the platform for where new ideas and innovations around education and technology will be born."

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