Startup Week to bring in area entrepreneurs to Dayton this week: How to go

The fourth annual Techstars Startup Week in downtown Dayton this week will bring together the region's thinkers, dreamers and doers in venues across the city.

Entrepreneurs of all levels are welcome, whether they are well versed in the industry or are new to the community.

As part of the week-long events, the Entrepreneurs Center and its partners are looking for entrepreneurs and small businesses from an eight-county area to pitch their business ideas in a series of events dubbed “#PitchIn.”

The first event will be 5:30 p.m. Monday in Dayton’s Oregon District, at Wiley’s Comedy Club, 101 Pine St.

“People living, working, or connected to the Oregon District are invited to apply for the pitch event to share their business or social entrepreneurship idea before a panel of judges for the chance to win competitive prize,” the Entrepreneurs Center announced in a release Tuesday. “#PitchIn attendees can donate to a pool of money and vote on the winner that takes home a second, community-selected prize.”


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“We want to showcase the Oregon District’s innovators and makers,” Carolyn DesJardin, executive director of the Oregon District Business Association, said in the center’s statement. “The Oregon District is a vibrant area and a great fit for the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Businesses from other neighborhoods and cities are invited to attend as well, as this event will be the first in the series, the center said.

“Our hope is that the momentum of Startup Week will help draw attention to some of the entrepreneurial activity happening in the neighborhoods too,” said John Owen of Wright State Research Institute, co-organizer of Startup Week.

“It used to be that entrepreneurs had to come to us to get the help the needed,” said Scott Koorndyk, president of The Entrepreneurs Center. “But that leaves too many people with great ideas on the sidelines, not knowing about the services we offer. This way, we’re coming to the neighborhoods to see what they’ve got, how we can partner and broaden the support for entrepreneurs, no matter where they are.”

Last year, approximately 900 people attended the 83 sessions and events that featured up to 88 speakers over the course of the week. The Startup Week is scheduled to host 125 sessions with nearly 200 speakers.

“The great thing about Startup Week is it is locally organized,” said John Owen, an original organizer of Techstars Startup Week Dayton. “Our track captains curated sessions from an open call for topics and used their own entrepreneurial networks to build industry and topic specific tracks that run throughout the week.”

Similar to last year, the base camp for these sessions will be at the Steam Plant, located at 617 E. 3rd St. in downtown Dayton. However, this year Startup Week will also feature industry-specific talks held in other locations around the city.

The Steam Plant is headquarters for talks that appeal across all industry lines including: how-to sessions for entrepreneurs covering marketing, branding, legal business needs, sales and customers, funding and finance, and inspirational founder stories.

There are many local business owners that will be giving speeches throughout the week on their success stories and how they became the entrepreneurs that they are today.

“We’ve never found it difficult to find local entrepreneurs who want to give back to the community. It’s one of the best parts about Dayton’s startup community,” said Owen. “Founders who have gone through the rough times of building a business want to give back to help the next generation of entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes they made. As our community continues to grow we are finding that more and more true. “

Other locations across town such as Second Street Market and The Brightside Music & Events Venue, will be base camps for the industry-specific talks.

For example, food industry entrepreneurs will gather at Second Street Market on Monday afternoon. Medtech entrepreneurs will gather at the 444 Innovation Hub and arts and music entrepreneurs will gather at The Brightside Music & Events Venue on Wednesday afternoon. Defense entrepreneurs will gather at the 444 Innovation Hub on Thursday, and more.

Another addition to Startup Week this year, is for those who are unable to make the daytime sessions. There will be evening workshops held at the Dayton Metro Library and The Brightside.

Startup Week is all about connecting within the community which is why evening social events range from community pitch nights to happy hours to a Startup Market that will feature products, food and music from the city’s entrepreneurs.

“Our community brought Startup Week to Dayton four years ago because we saw the impact it was having in other regions. For a lot of communities, including ours, it is the biggest gathering of entrepreneurs, said Owen. “It was important for us to have an event that built a sense of community among entrepreneurs and I think people will find that when they attend the event.”

The week concludes on Friday with a business crawl through Dayton’s Oregon District, with built-in stops to get headshots taken and to build picnic baskets for Friday night’s free concert at Levitt Pavilion.

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