Meeting Recap: Working Weekends

February 3, 2016 | Branden Schwab

Innovate Today, Startup Weekend, Eagle Speak

Following a week-long postponement due to inclement weather, an eager and enthusiastic crowd of creatives gathered at the eFactory’s Perch Lounge for the first Wednesday meeting of the new year to hear about locally-held hackathon events and how designers, developers, writers, project managers, and students can get involved.  


CEO and Co-Founder Nathan Gregg spoke about how Innovate Today is hosting start-up events for college students to help them get a solid start on new business ideas and generate momentum towards starting a business. An MSU Sophomore, Gregg explained how the community organization is supplementing the classroom experience with interdisciplinary collaborations that bring together marketing and design students, tech gurus, and business-minded student leaders to develop start-up projects in a fast-paced, competitive environment. Teams of ‘Hipsters,’ ‘Hackers,’ and ‘Hustlers’ benefit from the community engagement and entrepreneurial involvement of mentors, sponsors, guest speakers and community members that assess start-up ideas and guide teams toward viability and success.   

Innovate Springfield took place this past weekend, January 30th & 31st, and featured:

  • James Bonds: Founder & CEO of Well Driven Life
  • Julie Higgins: Founder & CEO of I Pour Life
  • Brian Harrison: Capital Markets Analyst at UMB Bank

The event was sponsored by the eFactory, Originate, Park East, Revel, Brick & Mortar Coffee, Commerce Bank and RW Photography. Innovate Kansas City is scheduled for April 9th.


Charismatic fixture of the eFactory community Chris Allen built on the theme of weekend workshops with his presentation on Startup Weekend, the “global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures.” Allen and others from the eFactory have organized the Queen City’s edition of the Google-powered event for the past two years by bringing in members of the business community to validate ideas from entrepreneurs as they pitch ideas, form teams and launch companies. While similar to Innovate Today in many respects, Startup Weekend is decidedly more intense, as teams participate in a 54 (rather than 12) hour competition to create, design, refine and ultimately present their ideas to local entrepreneurs and community leaders.

Many participants have gone on to launch their companies as full-fledged start-ups, including this year’s winner of the competition, Eagle Speak.


Some of the most memorable moments of the evening emerged from anecdotes delivered by the trio of web devs and designers behind Eagle Speak as they described their unlikely Startup Weekend successes. Despite receiving only one vote during the first phase of the competition, the team took First Place in the competition, won the Audience Choice Award, and have now gone on to develop their product and attract investors, all based on a nugget of an idea that they developed seriously over the course of a few days and two long nights.

Designer Jason Arend recounted the challenges of the ultra fast-paced environment where weeks of website, product and branding development were condensed into a matter of hours and approximately 40 gigs of assets. (Much of which were scrapped at the last minute.)

Developer Myke Bates (The Alchemedia Project) dove into the details of the project, including how the voice-activated desktop communication tool connects team members while allowing them to “maintain their mental tower” and remain deeply embedded in the intensely focused workflow that designers and developers dream about.

Developer Brandon Cash (40 Digits), who joined the Startup team without prior knowledge of the Eagle Speak project, offered up his technical expertise to help the team accomplish its goal of presenting a demo version of the software to push judges over the edge. All three understood that this was a digital product that had to be seen and demonstrated to truly be appreciated.


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