Priming open source startups |

Priming open source startups

Priming open source startups
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You've been thinking about starting an open source company. Or maybe you've got an idea but don't know how to take it to the next level. You need something to accelerate your idea. Maybe you need to pitch it to investors? Perhaps you're looking for a co-founder with skills that compliment yours? Startup Weekend could be the event that gets you moving.

We caught up with some of the organizers from a local Start-up Weekend in the Research Triangle, North Carolina. We wanted to find out what Start-up Weekend is looking to accomplish. And while we were investigating, something unique caught our attention—a track specifically designed for open source.

Arik Abel, vice president of Digital Services for French West Vaughan, and Mital M. Patel, founding attorney at Triangle Business Law, gave us a sneak preview of the events happening this weekend. The pair also shared that, at its roots, Startup Weekend is using the 'controlled open source model' to be successful in various cities around the world.

Tell our readers what Startup Weekend is and how long its been around.

Startup Weekend is an innovation festival where developers, designers, visionaries, product evangelists, and any one with an entrepreneurial spirit come together to launch new companies over the course of one weekend.

Beginning with open mic pitches on Friday, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday, teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing lean startup methodologies, and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening, teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.

Startup weekend was founded in 2007. It is now a global nonprofit organization and has over 45,000 alumni.

What's the goal of a Startup Weekend?

Different people have different goals when coming to Startup Weekend:

  1. Learning new skills through the act of doing
  2. Networking with your fellow community members in a collaborative environment (as opposed to networking over coffee or beer, or a conference)
  3. Meeting the co-founder of your dreams, like co-founder speed dating
  4. Actually launching a business--80% of the participants plan on continuing working with their team or startup after the weekend

As an organization, the goal is to accelerate global innovation and the creation of new businesses, products, and services.

How does Startup Weekend promote the principles of the open source way?

It's almost like an open source sociology experiment. People stand up in front of a room of over a hundred peers, mostly strangers, and present their biggest dreams, their most creative ideas, the problems they wish would just go away with the help of technology. Using a merit-based system, the best ideas float to the top. Then, in the process of building a team and starting to develop the concept, the initial owner of the idea has to let go of it and let that team guide and adapt that idea into something that is often completely new.

What we're doing at Triangle Startup Weekend with the track for specifically open source products and platforms is to try to raise the bar for people's ideas. We're saying, "We know you can build something cool and valuable, but can you build something that a million other people can make cool and valuable things out of?"

Also, it may be helpful to reference any part of this passage from Mark Nager, Startup Weekend CEO, talking about Startup Weekend as a controlled open source model:

...Startup Weekend has been incredibly successful by maintaining its "controlled open-source" model in which, as mentioned previously, all qualified community leaders [work] to bring Startup Weekend to their community. This open model is one of our most fundamental elements of success, however, it also poses the organizational challenge of keeping up with the demand. On a global average, Startup Weekend nets just over $1,000. The event-level model is one that Startup Weekend intentionally developed to be as frictionless as possible and will not change moving forward. In order to maintain the integrity of the current model, additional variable revenue will not come from the event-level revenue streams.

The full interview is at The Management Exchange.

Is Triangle Startup weekend the first of its kind to host an open source track?

To our knowledge, Triangle Startup Weekend is the first Startup Weekend in the world to host an open source track. There's so many events around the world, it would be impossible for us to know, but we want to prove that it can be successful here and try to make it a part of every event around the world, in collaboration with the global organizers.

When is the Triangle Startup weekend event and how can someone get involved? How can someone find out about a Startup weekend near them?

Triangle Startup Weekend is April 13 - 15, 2012, and tickets and more information are available at People that want to take part in the open source track can use the discount code 'opensource' in the ticket buying process.

To find out if a Startup Weekend is happening near you, see their main website at and learn more with this video:


About the author

Jason Hibbets
Jason Hibbets - Jason Hibbets is a senior community architect at Red Hat which means he is a mash-up of a community manager and project manager for He primarily works with the DevOps Team and Open Organization community. He is the author of The foundation for an open source city and has been with Red Hat since 2003. Follow him on Twitter: @jhibbets for a fun and shareable feed of his open source (and other)...