A group of 110 techies, designers and other creative types will gather in downtown Detroit this weekend to prove their entrepreneurial mettle at the city's fourth Startup Weekend.
Startup Weekend is an idea out of a Seattle non-profit that now hosts events around the world -- a total of 260 in 67 countries last year. Strangers and tech old-timers come together to try to get business startups off the ground in less than three days.
Detroit's fourth event (the first was in 2009) is organized by Brandon Chesnutt.
"Most classes or conferences on startups really focus on the science of it," Chesnutt said. "Startup Weekend focuses on the art form. You talk to experts, but the goal is to build a company."
Participants, who range from a 16-year-old student to serial entrepreneurs, will meet on Friday evening and pitch their ideas. They will then assemble into teams, matching skill-sets and interests to the approved ideas, and race against other groups to make the most progress. After working together Friday night, Saturday and the first half of Sunday, the teams will make short presentations of their business plans to judges and an audience, who will choose the winners.
Detroit's last startup weekend included plans for a mobile game, a GPS tracking system and a professional networking site that uses social media to help people meet face-to-face over lunch.
The event is sponsored by Apigee, Bizdom U, Core3 Solutions, Absopure, Billhighway and Detroit Venture Partners. DVP is providing space at the Madison Building, and Associate Vice President Jake Cohen helped plan the event. He expects people from other venture companies to be present as well, and he thinks the possibility for capital should be both daunting and exciting to the weekend's participants.
"They're not just there out of the goodness of their heart," Cohen said of the VC companies. "A lot of them are looking for a cool idea to invest in."
So far, Detroit's Startup Weekends haven't launched any widely successful companies, at least to Chesnutt's knowledge. But they can be just as useful for networking and kick-starting projects.
"It gets people bit by the [start-up] bug," said Cohen, "and lets them know that even in a weekend's time, they can make real progress on an idea."
And will Detroit Venture Partners, which provides support and funding for local startups, take an interest in any of the ideas presented this weekend?
"We're keeping an eye out for talented people that want to be part of the Detroit start-up revolution," Cohen said.
Curious about Detroit's tech scene? Check out HuffPost Detroit's Top Tech Startups of 2011 below: