Gadsden Hosts TechStars Startup Weekend

A good idea usually spreads like wildfire. Two entrepreneurs from Gadsden are taking a concept they participated in 2019 in Mobile and bringing it home.

Ben Weaver, who works at Exchange Bank, and Kyle Pierce, an attorney, took part in Techstars Startup Weekend in Mobile last year, learning how to create a business from scratch. They shared the idea of the competition with Gadsden State Community College and The Chamber of Gadsden & Etowah County. The result is their own Techstars Startup Weekend, which will be held February 7-9 at Gadsden State’s Beck Conference Center, beginning with a private dinner hosted by Back Forty Beer Co. on opening night.

During the 54-hour event, attendees pitch ideas, form teams and start companies. The event is community-focused, providing a place for budding entrepreneurs to find co-founders, mentors and momentum for their ideas.

Participants have the option of making a 60-second pitch. Those pitches are narrowed down to the top ideas, and then teams form around the ideas to come out with several developed companies or projects. The weekend culminates when those teams demonstrate their ideas in front of an audience of judges and potential investors.

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“Our original intent in participating in the Mobile competition was simply to observe,” said Pierce. “However, as the weekend went on, we decided to join the team forming around one of the pitches we thought was exceptional, and as it turns out, our team won.”

Weaver adds, “It was exciting to see an idea go from a single 60-second pitch to a legitimate business idea that may one day turn into a product available in stores.”

Techstars is a global competition, with participants in more than 120 countries. Globally it is sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs. One of the prerequisites of hosting a Techstars competition is that an organizer must have previously participated in an event.

“The Chamber had included hosting a business competition centered around entrepreneurship as part of our Partnering for Prosperity economic development plan,” said Heather Brothers New, president and CEO of The Chamber. “It was perfect synergy when we found that Ben and Kyle were already dialed in to hosting a Techstars weekend, so it was an easy decision to throw our support toward their effort.”

Weaver said, “I believe Gadsden has a lot of entrepreneurs that need a way to be brought together. Techstars is a great way to get those local people in the same room and on the same teams working on real business ideas together.”

Currently the task team is soliciting coaches, judges, investors and entrepreneurial services to be offered as prizes to the winning team. Participants also can register at Anyone interested in participating or needing more information can contact The Chamber at 256-543-3472.

Mobile, for a fifth year, will be hosting its own Techstars weekend, April 3-5, 2020.

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