Startup Week Brings Entrepreneurs Together
Statewide Co-Chair Carrie Shepard speaks at Startup Week kick-off at RSD.
The 2021 Techstars Alaska Startup Week concluded November 12 following five days of programming that drew more than 600 attendees from myriad industries and communities across Alaska. More than sixty free events—from business open houses to panel discussions—were offered, featuring the expertise of local entrepreneurs, investors, nonprofit leaders, policymakers, and startup ecosystem builders.
This volunteer-led effort marked the sixth iteration of Techstars Alaska Startup Week, and the first to be in a hybrid format after the all-virtual Startup Week in 2020.
“After the pandemic moved all of last year’s events online, organizers wanted to bring some local engagement back while keeping the option to learn from other communities,”
says Startup Week statewide co-chair Melanie Lucas-Conwell. “We saw a number of hybrid events as a result, which was very exciting and brought our statewide partners
closer despite the geographic distance. There were also events that spanned industries and topics, sparking new ideas and connections for attendees.”
The Portfolio Manager of the 49th State Angel Fund notes the value of Startup Week in bridging various components of the Alaskan entrepreneur network. “I’ve made valuable connections throughout Startup Week, both with founders and with potential collaborators to help them succeed,” Lucas-Conwell says.
The hybrid format worked well for Candy FitzPatrick of Cooper Landing, maker of the RestAngles portable posture brace. “All of the discussions I sat in on [Zoom] were informational. I attended an in-person event at Alpine Fit and that was a great experience,” she says.
The other statewide co-chair was Carrie Shephard, community engagement coordinator at Cook Inlet Housing Authority and co-founder of Toast of the Town. Shephard says Alaska Startup Week has been growing awareness of the startup economy since the event’s inception in 2015. “By 2016, a statewide effort was building with an incredible slate of workshops, networking events and open houses,” the long-time contributor recounts. “A few participants from that 2016 Startup Weekend launched real businesses that are still running and expanding today. But maybe more importantly, startups and the term ‘startup ecosystem’ began to be better understood as powerful, essential building blocks for Alaska’s economic future.”
Statewide Co-Chairs Melanie Lucas-Conwell (left) and Carrie Shephard (right).
Darcy Moxon, who upcycles used furniture at Furnish Studio + Salvage in Anchorage, says, “This was my first panel talking exclusively about my business and it was great to start building those muscles.”
Construction industry consultant Dena D. Strait says she also benefited from the event. “I found a good network to call into and share with entrepreneurs in a similar state of starting out,” she says.
Recordings of virtual events are available on the Youtube channels for 49th State Angel Fund and Alaska Center ICE.
The dates for the next Techstars Alaska Startup Week are November 14 through 22, 2022.