Fort Hays State University will host the first Startup Weekend in

western Kansas and one of the first in Kansas from Nov. 15 through 17.

Led by FHSU's College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Startup

Weekend is an event designed for entrepreneurs to meet, share ideas and

launch new businesses. The three-day event is open to anyone with a

great idea, and the desire to make that idea a reality.

The overall theme of Startup Weekend is "No talk, all action. Launch a startup in 54 hours."

Mark Bannister, dean of the college, said: "The College of Business

and Entrepreneurship is dedicated to developing new businesses,

particularly in rural areas, and Startup Weekend is the perfect

opportunity to inspire, educate and empower individuals, teams and

entire communities. Participants are invited from Kansas and elsewhere.

If you have the dream of starting your own business and have an idea,

this is a great opportunity for you to test it and to potentially put it

into motion."

The Hays event is an officially sanctioned Startup Weekend. The

Startup Weekend website states that "on average, half of Startup

Weekend's attendees have technical or design backgrounds, the other half

have business backgrounds."

Bannister pointed out, "In Kansas, we are likely to see a diversity

of backgrounds and are likely to have people interested in starting

businesses in areas of regional strength, such as energy services,

agriculture value-added products, manufacturing and retail, as well as

technology."

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 night, teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback

from a panel of experts.

On Friday, Nov. 15, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, will greet

participants. An entrepreneur with experience with the Startup Weekend

process will challenge participants. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who

has been an advocate of entrepreneurship, is scheduled to speak to the

participants on Saturday, Nov. 16. Most communication will be between

participants. A volunteer team of business, legal and design coaches

will be available throughout the weekend to provide assistance. On

Sunday, Nov. 17, the participants will present their business plans to a

panel of judges.

Participants must register. Partial scholarships will be available on

a competitive basis for college students. Participant presentations

will be open to the public free of charge at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17.

Judging and awards will take place at 7:30 p.m. Events on Friday, Nov.

15, will take place in McCartney Hall, and on Saturday and Sunday in the

Robbins Center, all on the FHSU campus.