For Entrepreneurs, By Entrepreneurs

I wanted to get some feedback from the Utah startup community before we get too far with this idea. Some community members at Startup Ogden have come up with an idea for an “event”. I put that in quotes because all the world needs is *another* entrepreneurship event, right? Right. So this isn’t an event, it’s more a set of private meetings for two days. What does that mean?

The format we are thinking of is something like this:

You are a startup somewhere in the state of Utah. Startup means you are a relatively new company with a relatively new product/service you are trying to grow. Basically, mature businesses with a decent amount of revenue/employees/etc. would not fit the definition. If you think you fit this definition, you apply to attend. What are you applying to attend?

Two days of private advice with legit entrepreneurs along with some community building and some fun!

We are looking to have this sometime in May or June. We will pick 16 startups from the application pile. Those 16 startups will each get one hour with a proven, successful and knowledgeable entrepreneurs. Think big names, big successes, as well as lesser known and quieter folks — either way, they will know what they are talking about, have a track record of doing things well, and will be good men/women in general that will meet with each company for one hour. This means each startup will have 16 meetings per startup over the two days.

So we will curate this group of really talented entrepreneurs and startups. They will spend 8 hours the first day and 8 hours the second day in 16 one-on-one meetings with Utah startups. There will be no keynote, no hashtag, no entry fee, no fluff. This is about finding 16 startups in Utah that look promising and pairing them in private time with super talented entrepreneurs.

So day one is 8 hours of meetings, with a fun outing that night and staying in Ogden. Day two will be another 8 hours of meetings and then we are done. We will cover all of the hotel, food and other expenses for the startups and entrepreneurs attending. This is not about spending or making money for any party involved. It’s about helping Utah startups without wasting any time.

So now we need your feedback and ideas. Good? Bad? Please comment and share. We are starting to gather the 16 entrepreneur advisors and want to setup the application page soon and pick a date. Again, the goal is to put something together that really helps these companies and building the Utah community.

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About Alex Lawrence

Alex has been a successful entrepreneur for 20+ years. His current venture Lendio ranks #34 on the Inc. 500 list. Alex earned a BS degree at the University of Utah and his MBA at Weber State University, where he is Vice Provost and Director of the Entrepreneurship Program. If you want to talk with Alex about business and entrepreneurship (or other questions), email him (alex AT startupflavor DOT com), or you can find him on Twitter @_AlexLawrence.
  • Parker Boyack

    I like it! Just makes me wish I had a startup to apply with šŸ™‚

    • alex_lawrence

      Easy to fix that!

    • alex_lawrence

      Spread the word. Get your favorites to apply…

  • Mitchell Wright

    I would most definitely be interested in this.

  • Brad

    I like. Where will it lead? Investment, product dev, team recruitment – define the goal for entrepreneurs and start ups

    • scampcat

      I agree completely with Brad. There needs to be a serious potential for launching forward, otherwise it’s the same as so many other entrepreneur meetups in the state. If this can be solved, count me in!

  • Kyle Clegg

    I like the idea. Just a place for smaller, < 10 person teams to come together and share their ideas, prototypes, early product designs, gather feedback, etc. Then on the flip side getting to hear about new happenings and support other local entrepreneurs would be awesome as well. I'd definitely be interested.

    • Sweet idea, some tweaking will probably make it even better. I’ll put the word out down here. We should be able to supply at least one or two quality teams from the St. George and Cedar City area.

      • alex_lawrence

        Hope we can indeed get some good ones from down there! Thanks, Josh.

    • alex_lawrence

      Hi Kyle. Here is the link. I hope you’ll apply!


  • elforesto

    I like it. There’s a lot of great events to help figure out what you’re doing, but they’re all focused on a single thing. A “one stop shop” deal would be very welcome.

    • alex_lawrence

      Hope you’ll apply, Jesse. Here is the link to do so and share/encourage others. https://t.co/GVGvjJq3TS

  • Nick Walter

    I think it’s a great idea. My suggestion would be that every hour involves some sort of action. Like if one mentor was a developer, they could look over some of my code and give feedback. A mentor who is great at conversions, will help to make new wire frames for a landing page.

    One on one attention with 16 experts would awesome. I would LOVE to have a chance like this!

  • You might consider starting with 8 startups and 8 mentors, which would be an easier time commitment for the mentors. Also, as long as you have all of that expertise in the same place at the same time, schedule an evening event on the same day that is open to the public. The mentors and startups could share some of the lessons learned during the day, and have some Q&A with the audience. This would also serve to generate excitement and motivation among the audience to participate in the next event like this.

  • Curtis Howe

    It sounds like a lot of fun and valuable mentoring! Im in!

  • Tigress

    I love the idea and would make time to come and participate as a start up. As a nonprofit, it would be helpful to have someone with a similar background attend as an expert. An additional idea would be to have a few moments at the end of each day to reconnect with experts on a more personal basis.

  • cahlan

    Alex, love the idea.

    • alex_lawrence

      Hope you guys will apply and join us! Spread the word with other great startups, too.


  • As a new start-up entrepreneur, I would love this opportunity. However, I would have serious reservations with explaining my new business model to mentors who I do not know, who would have the means, motivation, knowledge and education to steal my business model and run with it while I was muddling through the working parts. I would hope that with these concerns, if you chose to run with such an excellent opportunity as this would be for a start-up, you would have some sort of non-disclosure in place to protect all involved parties. If so, I would love to be involved in such an event!

    • alex_lawrence


      I am sure you didn’t know this, but NONE of them would ever consider signing that. There are a bunch of reasons why. Click this google search link and you can see a bunch of articles about it.


      • Nicholas Pericle

        I had an interesting experience – a couple of weeks ago I went out to San Francisco and was so taken back by the culture of open information sharing. I visited with multiple people, and they were so open about sharing their ideas. They shared the intimate details, where they were at, their struggles, the glories. They then asked me about what I was working on. The first time I was asked this, I was very reserved about what I was working on – I didn’t say much and hinted at that I didn’t want to share – mainly because the person I was talking to had so much more experience and resources! They could easily recreate whatever I’m doing! I was reserved and the person called me out on it. She told me this – “When I meet someone and they don’t share their details of what they’re working on with me, I can’t help them. And I don’t want to help them. I have better things to do than steal your idea.” I was very taken back. And my view of this has completely changed.

        I think the culture of NDAs is kind of dying. Of course there is a place for them – but in an event like this, I don’t think it’d be necessary. The startup scene is all about helping each other out. Think about the name you’d make for yourself stealing someone else’s idea. Plus it’s not ethical in the startup world. It’s all about helping each other out.

        • scampcat

          I appreciate the innocence of your comments! Entrepreneurial exchange is a great thing, and it can have a powerful force for good. At the same time, a smart business leader will know what to share and what to conveniently leave out, as I’m sure those in SanFran know very well how to filter. Ethics, morals, honesty, integrity, and other noble words are soon replaced with legal documents of protection once we realize that not everyone out there is nearly as noble as we are. When giving one out for signature, I always say “it’s not personal, it’s general. This is simply a business policy as we work with everyone – no exceptions.” No one has yet refused our NDA’s with that statement.

    • scampcat

      NDA’s are not dying, and they are an absolutely mandatory document in the legal arsenal of protection. Most thorough investors will want an accounting of signed NDA’s of everyone with knowledge of your “secret sauce” before investing, especially if you don’t have a patent of some sort. That being said, it’s true that many investors won’t sign an NDA. Mentors are also in that group of people where they work with many different businesses, including potential competitors to you. NDA’s would certainly restrict their ability to do their own business almost immediately. They don’t take what they know from other clients to benefit you, and vice versa. They have different business objectives by talking to you, and their neutrality is key to their livelihood. That being said, if the mentors are entrepreneurs assembled together to provide other entrepreneurs with help, the organization that brings them together should have contracts similar to an NDA to remove themselves from liability while providing a fundamental level of trust, much like SCORE does.

      The best NDA you can have is the one you place on yourself. Don’t divulge all your secrets. Mentors don’t need to know every aspect of your business; just the ones that they can help with. So keep a careful filter on what you say, despite your excitement to share everything.

      More importantly, remember that in almost every case, the people are what make a successful business, not the product. If you think it’s the other way around, I wish you the best of luck. A good idea is always a good start, but a lousy team will run it into the ground. A top-notch team can take a mediocre product to the moon. So remember that the people in your team should be the secret to success, along with their talents and connections. That’s hard to reproduce and an excellent deterrent to theft or duplication for any intelligent person. Finding the right people is hard to do once, let alone twice.

    • alex_lawrence

      Here is the link, Marianne! Hope you’ll consider applying.


  • Brock Neilson

    I like it, no strings attached or ulterior motives just building community and offering real mentorship in a great city. We would love it.

  • Nicholas Pericle
  • Scampcat, Thanks for the comment. I actually know that NDAs are not dead because I have several investors that wouldn’t even look at me until I got NDAs signed from everyone who knew anything about the start-up. However, it also depends on the start-up. My business is a unique, out-of-the-box, service based business that benefits non-profits. It would be easy to recreate and is solely based on an idea. If I had a “secret recipe” or patent that would be different. I’m also finding that I am in need of networking and mentoring which is why I am so interested in this opportunity. However, the Forbes article was about investors and NDAs. So my question is this…is this about mentoring new start-ups or is this about “mentor’s” looking at potential investment opportunities? Either way it’s a great opportunity for a new start-up.

    • alex_lawrence

      It is only mentoring, there are no pitches and none of the mentors should be looked at as potential investors.

    • I think the trick is to find a way to talk about your startup in a way that doesn’t give away your secret sauce. Many ideas are not novel. But there may be ways you implement it that overcome certain barriers that existed before. Protect those. But share the stuff that makes your idea compelling enough that people will want to help you. Lots of ways to do that, you just need to find the right IP strategist that gets what you are trying to accomplish.

  • AustenjAllred

    I love the idea. I would mention, however, that for people bootstrapping and building something on the side that three straight days (presumably two and a half days off of work) is a bit much.

    • alex_lawrence

      Thanks for coming here to read and comment, Austen. Question about your comment…do you think our value proposition is off such that someone like yourself might not think the ROI is there to take that many vacation/etc days off (it’d be two days btw)? Or is it possible a good filter to attract those that are 100% in on their startup? It’s probably more the first, but maybe some of the second. Thoughts?

  • Todd Dunn

    Very interesting Alex. Glad to see you still pushing.

    • alex_lawrence

      Hi Todd. How you been man? Hoping you got some revenues in the door for your startup! I’ll always push. Sometimes a rope uphill, but always pushing šŸ™‚

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