Tom Kemmer is a Fargo designer and builder. He designs things like steel octopus table legs, tables out of slabs of wood, and, this year, the trophies for Startup Weekend Fargo. He calls them the “deconstructed beaker.”

Startup Weekend trophies

“I wanted to make it out of wood and steel, like the framework for a building,” Kemmer said. “It’s like a startup. Starting from the ground up.”

It starts with a Brazilian wood called yellowheart, as the base. The beaker, the logo for Startup Weekend, is planted firmly in the middle. It’s made of three legs of steel, curved to form a 3D outline of the beaker. Exploding from around it, like the five points of a star, is a frame made of two layers of dark and light steel.

“It’s like an explosion of ideas,” Kemmer said.

Kemmer designed the trophies and worked with a manufacturer (who also does work for John Deere) to laser-cut the steel. He created three, ranging small to large for third to first place.


This was not his first attempt at the trophy, Kemmer said. His original idea was to create an actual beaker out of acrylic – but it didn’t work. Like a startup, this trophy comes from a process of trial and error.

Even still the trophies aren’t perfect. Burn marks from the welding scar the base, where steel meets steel. Small cut marks appear in the frame of the beaker; cosmetics that Kemmer would usually have taken care of for a more polished look. But for this, he decided to leave them.

“These aren’t perfect,” he said. “Startups aren’t perfect, either.”

Read more about Startup Weekend Fargo 2016 here.

Thanks for your work, Tom!

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Marisa Jackels