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Reid Hoffman

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[Editor’s note: VentureBeat is co-sponsoring Mega Startup Weekend.]


Education and healthcare remain two of the biggest social issues in need of innovation. To help tackle the challenges, entrepreneurs will gather under one roof for 54 hours during Mega Startup Weekend. Their goal: Solving problems in these industries, perhaps by using gaming as a vehicle.

Hosted by Microsoft in conjunction with DEMO (which VentureBeat is co-producing with IDG) and Startup America, Mega Startup Weekend is an intense event focusing on building a web or mobile application, which could form the basis of a credible business over the course of the weekend. The event will attract individuals with different skill sets — primarily software developers, graphic designers and business people — to build applications and develop a commercial case around them.

So what will happen during “meal time” when entrepreneurs from these three areas (education, healthcare, gaming) mingle?  Will they swarm around their designated pizza boxes like sixth graders at a school dance, or will they cross-pollinate and network like true collaborators tasked with solving large-scale issues?

The madness starts on Friday night, September 9, when Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, gives the keynote address to kick off the festivities. (Hoffman will also be one of the keynote speakers at DEMO.)  Soon after, attendees of each “track” will break off into three separate rooms to share their one-minute pitch for the company they want to build that weekend.  From these one-minute pitches, about ten teams from each track will be formed for a total of thirty teams based on the number of votes each pitch receives. The participants will then form their own teams around each of the ten pitches.

Each team will create their own Startup Canvas, a term coined by the famous Stanford Professor and Startup Weekend Alumni, Steve Blank, which sets the general direction for the team but often changes several times before event culmination.

On Saturday night, September 10, Microsoft will host an party to give Silicon Valley’s best and brightest a chance to share their war stories of starting their own company.

Finally, at 4pm on Sunday, September 11, each team will give a five-minute presentation to a panel of judges, and each winner will present their idea in front of the entire group of event attendees.

As if that wasn’t enough, the pitching will continue, with each winner receiving a coveted booth at the DEMO Conference on September 12-14th, and a chance to win the Audience Choice Rising Star slot to pitch at Demo.

Entrepreneurs, start your innovation engines!

For more information, visit the Mega Startup Weekend. Register today with promo code “venturebeat” to get $20 off!

This post was written by Ahmed Siddiqui (@siddiquiahmed), the Bay Area coordinator for Startup Weekend, in collaboration with Ryan Bloomer (@rblooms) and  Rebekah Iliff (@ttcrebekah).

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