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Startup Weekend returns to Fargo

FARGO -- Startup Weekend is about to start up again.

What began in 2012 as a way to foster connections and entrepreneurial excitement has become an annual event in Fargo and this year’s reiteration will kickoff Friday, April 13, and run through Sunday at the Prairie Den co-working space and Sanctuary Events Center, both in downtown Fargo.

Organizers of Techstars Startup Weekend, as it is officially called, describe it as a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate and empower individuals and communities by forming teams and sharing ideas that may or may not lead to the launch of startup businesses.

Jake Kohl is among those who have attended Fargo startup get-together several times in the past.

He said the event made a good first impression.

“I had a blast the first year,” said Kohl, who has worked on a number of mobile application projects during the creatively charged weekends.

One of the projects, dubbed “Klink,” was an app concept aimed at helping people break the ice at social gatherings.

Another, Opentab, was an idea for an app that made paying bar tabs quick and easy.

Neither has turned into a blockbuster business, but that isn’t necessarily the point of Startup Weekend, according to Kohl.

“Startup Weekend really kind of opened my eyes to engaging more with our community,” said Kohl, a technical services engineer with Intelligent InSites, a Fargo software company that focuses on healthcare.

This year’s event will focus on the theme of community, with pitches aimed at building or improving community, which can meaning anything from a population area, like the Fargo-Moorhead area, to a specific demographic or niche interest group.

The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. was the first sponsor of Startup Weekend when it began in 2012 and the organization has devoted staff time for all six events, including the one starting this weekend.

“Attendees love it each year and it’s been one of many efforts in our community to continually provide opportunities for people to get together, meet each other and promote innovation,” said John Machacek, senior vice president for finance and entrepreneurial development at the EDC.

Machacek said based on feedback from past events, organizers decided to change some things this year, including capping participation at 50 attendees.

Deadline for participants is Tuesday, April 10. As of Monday, there were only a few spots remaining, according to Machacek.

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