Startup Weekend

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COLUMBIA - On Thursday aspiring entrepreneurs met at Craft Beer Cellar Columbia to celebrate the beginning of the 7th annual Columbia Startup Weekend, which begins Friday.

Alyssa Patzius is a volunteer for Columbia Startup Weekend. She said the event is a big deal for some people in Columbia.

"I mean this is an opportunity for people to come together, put their heads together and come up with an idea that could potentially turn into something bigger," Patzius said.

The 54-hour event is what organizers call a "playground" for ideas and presentations for potential businesses. 

"We found that when people have the kind of environment where they can have a good time, good things come out of it," Patzius said.

The process of the event works like this: Attendees pitch ideas, create teams and from there each team spends the weekend exploring ways to get their potential business ventures off of the ground.

At the end of the weekend, all teams will present, and a panel of judges will name the top three presentations. 

Organizers said the idea is to include everyone interested in business, not just those who are already established in some way.

"We want this to be an opportunity for people to learn. For some it's about creating a business plan, but for others, it's a chance to network," Patzius said. 

Columbia Startup Weekend will take place at Veterans United Home Loans. While purchasing tickets and registration is required to participate, the public is welcome to come and sit in on pitches and the final presentations. 

Patzius also said the goal this year is to promote longevity. She's hoping people remain motivated after the event comes to an end. 

"We don't want people to just return to reality on Monday. What we want is for them to still be thinking about this a year out."