Courtesy Photo

Startup Weekend SLO, shown here in 2013, kicks off Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Samantha Sullivan

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Can you build a startup company in 54 hours?

That’s what Cal Poly students, San Luis Obispo community members and anyone else who signed up will attempt to do this weekend at San Luis Obispo’s Startup Weekend.

Over the course of Friday night, all of Saturday and most Sunday, teams will generate prototypes of products as well as a business plan and a marketing schedule in order to bring their theoretical product to market, said Tim Sweeney, business administration junior, former president of Cal Poly Entrepreneurs and lead organizer of Cal Poly’s Startup Weekend.

Startup weekend is essentially a business competition that incorporates engineering, Sweeney said.

“You gain so much confidence from this,” Sweeney said. “You gain the confidence to say ‘Oh my God, I can create a product, I can create something that’s valuable that people will buy and it took me two-in-a-half days? What could I do with a week, two weeks, even a month of dedication?’ It’s really empowering.”

One example of a first-place design is called Seat Rep. It’s a mobile application that helps people find their seats when they get to the game, gives information about certain restaurants and lists where the bathrooms ware, among other aspects, Sweeney said.

Sweeney said judges are essentially looking at three things to determine a winner: what the team built (was it innovative; does it solve a problem; can it be used?), market viability (will people buy this?) and team dynamics and their overall business plan.

For now, Startup Weekend is full — 120 people have signed up to participate, and there are 20 people on the waitlist. Around September or October, the website will be updated with information about next year’s event, which will take place during winter quarter, Sweeney said.

The event begins Friday night and lasts through Sunday. Presentations are at 5 p.m. and awards are around 7:30 p.m.

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