Priceline co-founder Jeff Hoffman will keynote the first Hartford “Startup Weekend” organized by the MetroHartford Alliance’s Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs Sept. 23-25 at the Hartford Public Library. 

While Priceline spokesperson William Shatner won’t be making an appearance, the three-day event will help connect software developers, marketers, graphic artists, and business people looking to combine their skills to launch products in an industry that is one of the few thriving in the ongoing recession.

Existing businesses need not apply. The goal of startup weekends is to take an idea for a mobile application or website from pitch to product over the 54 hour period, with the teams forming at the event itself. Attendees hear idea pitches from their fellow participants on Friday night, and the best ideas are voted on to be developed. Teams then form and work through the weekend to produce a product that gets presented and voted on at the conclusion of the event Sunday night. Additional information on the event format can be found at the Startup Weekend FAQ page

“This is a dynamic, fast-paced weekend that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship in an environment where business, technology and creativity meet to accomplish one goal: launch a start-up,” said Nicholas Bereza, one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Hartford.

Watch a short video on the concept:

YouTube video

Bereza, the founder of Bloomfield’s NE Computer Solutions, was looking to bring a technology-oriented event to the Hartford area when he stumbled upon the Startup Weekend website, which is organized as a 501c(3) and provides support organizing events throughout the world. 

Bereza said that even those not technically inclined will be useful on teams, as the groups formed often segment into technical, business, and marketing sections in order to get the final product completed on time. He added that at a Boston event he attended some team members were sent out on the street recruiting beta testers and potential customers to quickly gauge a feature and get feedback while the programmers were busy coding. 

The winning project of the weekend will receive a 50 percent rent reduction on office space from the Connecticut Business Incubator Network. The first prize winner will also receive seven hours of free legal services from Updike, Kelly & Spellacy. 

“The final product may not be a full implementation. It could be a business plan, a customer validated plan, or it could be a fully functional product that’s ready to start taking on customers,” Bereza added. 

Registration for the event is $75 through Aug. 23, $99 after. Students are offered a reduced rate of $49. Registration can be completed online at the event website, or by calling 860-728-2284 or 860-243-9896, ext. 201.

Lon Seidman is the host and producer of “Lon.TV,” a consumer technology video show that is on a number of platforms including YouTube and Amazon. He creates in-depth, consumer-friendly product reviews and commentary. His YouTube channel has over 300,000 subscribers and more than 100 million views.

In addition to being a full-time content creator, Lon is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Hartford (his alma mater) where he teaches a course in entrepreneurial content creation.

Prior to becoming a full-time creator, Lon was a partner at The Safety Zone, his family’s business that manufactures gloves and safety equipment. The company has locations around the globe and employs over 200 people worldwide. The Safety Zone was acquired by the Genuine Parts Corporation in 2016.

Lon is also active in public service, serving as the Chairman of the Essex Board of Education, a member of the Region 4 Board of Education, and as the Secretary / Treasurer of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. He was endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans for his re-election in 2021.

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