October 11. 2012 8:00AM - Last modified: October 11. 2012 8:39AM

Startup Weekend to build software companies

Startup Weekend, a three-day entrepreneurial initiative devoted to the development of new area companies, will host its first event Friday, Nov. 9, through Sunday, Nov. 11, at Marquette University’s Discovery Learning Complex, 1637 W. Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.

The 54-hour event will join software programmers, graphic designers and entrepreneurs in a collaborative space with the aim to build software companies.

“The real focus is technology, high growth, software startups,” said co-organizer Matt Cordio, who also cofounded Skills Pipeline and Startup Milwaukee.

Along with nine other co-organizers, Cordio formed a coalition with organizations like Marquette University’s Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship, BizStarts Milwaukee, 7Summits, and Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. to produce the event.

The idea for Milwaukee’s Startup Weekend was conceived when co-organizer Clint Laskowski, of Verizon Business, attended a Startup Weekend event in Madison and thought Milwaukee would be a viable city to host a similar event. Laskowski reached out to Cordio, who pooled his resources to begin piecing together the weekend.

On a broader scale, Startup Weekend is a worldwide grassroots entrepreneurial movement that held more than 400 events in 100 countries in 2011. Milwaukee’s version hopes to attract 100 people and form 15 to 20 new companies.

“This could be a game changer for Milwaukee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we’re getting a lot of support,” Cordio said.

Cordio said the city’s entire startup community has advocated the event.

“People are really taking note of what we’re doing, and they’re really excited,” Cordio said.

“That’s how we’re going to build a strong startup community in Milwaukee, and that’s really important for economic development as an area,” he said.

During the weekend, entrepreneurial experts from the Milwaukee area will help coach and mentor the startups in progress. A panel of judges will select the top five startup ideas at the end of the weekend and eventually narrow the selections down to one final winner. Prizes to be awarded may include receiving support services from a law firm or opportunities to pitch startup concepts to an investment group. Cordio said prizes are still being determined.

He hopes this initial Startup Weekend will serve as the catalyst for other entrepreneurial-driven events in the future and is excited to unite so many intelligent Milwaukee minds.

“It’s a good event, and it’s not just for the weekend,” Cordio said. “It hopefully creates some lasting companies and some lasting momentum in our entire community.”

Registration for Startup Weekend is open to the public. Cost is $99 for community members and $45 for students. Cost includes meals, snacks, parking and resources all weekend. For more information or to register, visit http://swmke.eventbrite.com/.