The first ever Women’s Startup Weekend event in North Dakota, and one of only a handful ever conducted in the world, launched with incredible success this past weekend. Over 60 participants, forming 7 teams, worked 54 hours to create a “minimum viable product” for their business idea. Judges, including Border States Electric CEO Tammy Miller, then determined the top three teams and awarded prizes worth several thousand dollars. Keynote speakers for the event were Kari Warberg Block, CEO and Founder of Earth-Kind, an organic pest control company, and Sherry Deutschmann, CEO and Founder of LetterLogic, a national billing logistics company based in Nashville, TN.
Participants came from all over the upper midwest, with some hailing from as far as North Carolina. The winner of this year’s event was a team called Nevaeh, which seeks to make an innovative breast pump system for new mothers. Second place was awarded to a team developing an organic “manure tea” product that provides essential nutrients to plants and can be used by gardeners as an effective way to boost plant performance without the use of chemicals. Other ideas pitched and worked on at the event were a juice company, Fargo’s first soul food restaurant, a magazine celebrating young women and their professional and academic accomplishments, and a state-themed gift box delivery service.
The event was hosted by the Dakota Medical Foundation, in its state-of-the-art facility in South Fargo. Participants braved several instances of blizzard conditions and travel warnings to participate in the event and the culminating awards ceremony on Sunday evening. Gourmet food was provided by Mosaic catering and participants enjoyed musical entertainment by Michael and Randi Olsen.
Based on the significant success of this year’s event, it is expected that Women’s Startup Weekend may be an annual event in Fargo. In the meantime, participants may look forward to Fargo Startup Weekend, occurring on March 7-9, 2014.