Third annual gathering could see local business win state funding

Las Cruces is among three cities taking part in New Mexico’s Statewide Startup Weekend, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday night. This year, the third year Las Cruces has participated along wtih Albuquerque and Santa Fe, marks a change from previous years as experts from around the state and country use technology to share information among all three cities simultaneously. The event will connect all three cities, with sessions to be held at the Santa Fe Business Incubator in Santa Fe; Fat Pipe, Eipcenter & ABQid in Albuquerque; and Arrowhead Center on New Mexico State University’s campus in Las Cruces.

“Unique this year is New Mexico will be the first and only integrated statewide startup weekend,” said Zetdi Sloan, director of the technology incubator at the NMSU Arrowhead Center.

Sloan said collaboration between speakers at the three statewide events and the use of technology will bring an opportunity for all participants to benefit from the shared knowledge of the speakers presenting this weekend.

“The keynote speaker will be in northern New Mexico and webcast to all participants across the state,” Sloan said. “Santa Fe, Albuquerque, we’ll have some other guest speakers over the course of the weekend.”

Participants will begin Friday evening with brainstorming sessions to pitch ideas for development. Through a voting process, top candidates will be selected and teams formed to develop a business plan and pitch it.

The top project for each city will be selected Sunday night and will immediately go before a panel of judges. The winner will receive $2,000 in development assistance from the state’s Economic Development Department.

“New Mexico Economic Development Department is sponsoring each one of the locations,” Sloan said. “On top of that, after each community winner is selected they will go on directly to be pitched on the webcast to the other locations and state representatives. Judges at all three cities will pick the statewide winner.”

“Everything about Statewide Startup Weekend emphasizes collaboration,” said Sean O’Shea, Statewide Startup Weekend organizer and program director for The Santa Fe Business Incubator. “Our opening speaker is dramatic confirmation.”

This year’s event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 and culminate with judging and awards on Nov. 15 at Arrowhead Park, 4605 Research Park Circle in Las Cruces. Tickets are $75, and tickets for high school and college students are $25. Cost includes meals, refreshments and prizes. Startup Weekend Las Cruces is the only startup event taking place in Southern New Mexico. Participants from around the region are welcome to attend.

The Startup Weekend event features teams forming around top ideas and spending 54 hours creating business models, code, design and market validation. Each team will then present their project before a panel of judges, including Bobby Lutz, NMSU alumnus, CFO and owner of G.L. Seaman and Company, and member of the NMSU Foundation Board and the Arrowhead Advisory Council; John Hummer, co-founder, executive board member and President of The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Albuquerque business owner Amy Bigbee.

The event’s featured speaker on Saturday is Estela Hartley, an innovation strategist who works with startups, established businesses and nonprofit organizations to solve complex problems and design meaningful businesses, products, and services using new frameworks, tools and practices. She will speak about customer interviews.

David Brown of Boulder, Colorado, co-founder and president of Techstars, is opening speaker. Techstars, an accelerator program which first launched Startup Weekend, operates in seven cities with a network of more than 1,500 mentors and 1,000-plus alumni. Startup Weekends create an environment where passionate people can come together to get things done; to learn, network, bridge the gap between trades, expose potential and see actual results. This type of innovative collaboration is extremely important to the economic growth of each community and of New Mexico as a whole, according to O’Shea.

New Mexico’s Statewide Startup Weekend will be fully collaborative and connected with a shared opening speaker, two shared Saturday workshops, a common closing speaker and a final pitch competition between the three communities to crown the very first Statewide Startup Weekend winner in history.

For more information or to register, go to

“It’s not just people with an idea for a business that should participate,” O’Shea said. “Business people, engineers, creatives, coders and anyone interested in working on a team and building a startup from scratch will benefit from the Startup Weekend experience.”

Jason Gibbs may be reached at 575-541-5451. Follow him on Twitter @fjgwriter.