Startup Weekend 2015

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VGM Forbin participated in Startup Weekend 2016 Cedar Valley

The start-up culture has been idolized across all sorts of industry publications and on TV shows such as HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” However, California is not the only hotbed for start-up businesses. Just a couple of weeks ago on Nov. 20-22, eight Forbin team members participated in a Google Startup Weekend event right here in Waterloo at Cedar Valley TechWorks, with Forbin also serving as a Silver Sponsor.


Startup Weekend is a 54-hour weekend event during which groups of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more pitch ideas for new startup companies, form teams around those ideas, and develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by Sunday evening.

Drew Kahler from VGM Forbin participated in Startup Weekend 2015.

Photo credit: Jonah Lorsung; photo source: Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Facebook page


A huge draw for us at Forbin was getting to grow our product and business development skills working with those outside of our own office. We often get stuck in our own way of doing things, so Startup Weekend served as a great way to see new ideas and processes, and bring them back to the rest of the company. This creates a mix of innovation and entrepreneurship, or “intrepreneurship” if you will.

Laura Hand from VGM Forbin participated in Startup Weekend 2015

Photo credit: Jonah Lorsung; photo source: Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Facebook page


The team including our own Nathan Hauser and Drew Kahler took first place. Another team that included Forbin’s Laura Hand, Andrew Elthon and Kyle Kramer took third place with an idea for a web-app that allows video communication with your healthcare provider after hours that Laura pitched.

Kyle Kramer and Andrew Elthon from VGM Forbin participated in Startup Weekend 2015

Photo credit: Jonah Lorsung; photo source: Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Facebook page


Cassi Price and Shannon Kazynski from VGM Forbin participated in Statup Weekend 2015.

Photo credit: Jonah Lorsung; photo source: Startup Weekend Cedar Valley Facebook page


But what did we learn? We’ll let each team member who went describe their experience in their own words.


Andrew Elthon, Web Designer

“Part of me thought this was more of a hackathon-style event, where we build something cool and share it with everyone on Sunday. It turned out to be much more. We spent a great deal of time researching our market and getting to know our potential customers. Moving forward, I might be more inclined to push for Forbin to have some kind of hackathon weekend or evening.”


Drew Kahler, Sales

“It was more challenging and stressful than I had anticipated it would be.  Emotions ran high with a bunch of people that want to see everything succeed, and we were on a very tight deadline to develop and test out an idea.  Not only did we have to figure out if our idea/product was something people might actually use, but we also had to have enough of an understanding and data to prove that fact.”


Kyle Kramer, Web Designer

“I think the coolest experience was developing a product from the ground up with a team of people created that day. Some of the team members were from Forbin and I work with them daily, but half the team wasn’t and it seemed like we all meshed really well and the talents were spread out.  That made for great input across the board and a great learning opportunity.”


Loni Meier, Project Manager

“It is an incredible opportunity to take nothing more than a concept and vet out obstacles and identify opportunities to formulate a viable business proposition.  I was involved in the event last year, but only for part of the time.  This year I was able to have the full experience, and it lived up to everything I had expected it to be.”


Nathan Hauser, Web Designer

“Working the creative process in very little time…you learn how to come together as a team and make decisions when you need to execute.”


Laura Hand, Creative Director

“It was awesome seeing how well our team of strangers was able to come together and quickly become a great team that essentially developed a company in two days. It was a great structured way to walk us through all the right homework and questions we should be asking before we arrive at a product solution.”


Shannon Kazynski, Client Success Representative

“The coolest experience I had over the weekend was seeing all of the different teams function in a similar fashion, no matter what the idea was. We all hit similar roadblocks or plot twists along the way that potentially changed our direction altogether. It showed me that no matter how great you think your idea is, the discovery part is the most difficult, but most valuable.”


Cassi Price, Senior Web Marketing Specialist

“For me, the coolest part of Startup Weekend was our discussions with area mentors.  Our team would start feeling really comfortable and confident about where we were in the project, and then the mentors would meet with us and shake things up (in a good way).  The mentors could speak from experience and show us a completely different view of how to achieve our business goals.”


The “intrepreneurial” spirit of the weekend was a great way to break our team members out of the everyday production style they are used to. While it was a safe environment to learn more about the business development process, the stakes were still high.


We are excited to implement a lot of the lessons our team members learned at Startup Weekend to help us provide better solutions for our future customers. We hope to bring more of the Forbin team along to Startup Weekend 2016!