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Why Not Start-Up?

by: Megan McLean

Have you ever walked into a room and scoped it out to get a feel for it? You walk in, quickly skim and glance over the people and make your preconceived notion of how the day or night of the event will be. Typically, it’s based on the attendees’ style of dress, body language, event decor, and overall vibe that let you know if you’ll be inspired or bored out of your mind. But have you ever walked into a room and mentally saw a room full of ideas? To know that everyone in the room has a budding idea that could possibly be the next cure, the next major Tech giant, or latest invention that will change mankind in our era. If you have not, then it’s a given you’ve never been to Charlotte Start-Up Weekend.

On a cold, rainy and foggy  Friday night on January 8th, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC)’s Center City campus was a gleaming tower holding in the brightest ideas and innovative minds Charlotte had to offer. No, the next Einstein, Oprah, or Bill Gates were not in attendance. Instead, the mom who was tired of not knowing where her son’s soccer tournament and daughter’s cheer competition award ceremony was going to be held was there. The guy who was tired of walking around a ghost-like Uptown with no authentic and fun night life was there. The gym coach who was concerned about his students’ home life and how it affected their self-esteem in school and in general was there. Besides being in attendance, they all had one thing in common. They were your everyday Charlotteans who wanted to make a difference by solving problems that they and their peers faced everyday; they were tired of having such problems with no solutions. So they figured, why not Start-Up the solution themselves? (By the way, JCSU is hosting its own pitch competition. Register for the event here!.)

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Charlotte Start-Weekend Essentials: Laptop, Notebook,  earphones, CSW Information Packet

Charlotte Start-Up Weekend (CSW), completing its 8th year in the Queen City,  is a 54 hour event that brings together Charlotte designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and experts from all domains to do amazing things for problem solvers. CSW follows a basic model:

01) Pitch

Pitch an idea, vote for your favorites, and form your team (or join someone else’s).

02) Build Something Real

Put your talents to work and build a real product, team, and brand for execution in the real world or even just your portfolio.

03) Launch!

Put final touches on your presentation and state your case to the Judges.


The most inspiring element about #CSW8 is that ANYONE can pitch their idea and you’re in a room full of people that are just like you as well as people who have the skills and knowledge in areas that could contribute to your success and vision. A critical part of entrepreneurship is not getting over the nay-sayers and doubters (whether it be family or friends) but mainly your biggest critic: yourself. The great American author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said,

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”

Every great invention started with just an idea and simple possibility, and what better way to start that idea than at Charlotte Start-Up Weekend. Check out the hashtag #CSW8 on Twitter to take a look on what others had to say about the magic that took place at the event!

Do you have an idea that you’ve wanted to explore? What problems do you have that you could help solve? What’s holding you back from just starting?

Why not continue your journey by pitching your own business at the Innovo Pitch Competition? JCSU student applications are due February 12th.

Let me know, I’d love to hear about it! Follow me on Twitter @MeganDeniece_

Megan McLean: This is my HBCU

Megan McLean, CEO, The Learning Tree Tutorial and Enrichment Program and Innovo Scholar is participating in ImpactU, the 10-week undergraduate summer incubator.

Megan McLean is an Innovo Scholar and Johnson C. Smith University junior. McLean incubated her business, The Learning Tree Tutorial and Enrichment Program through the 10-week summer-long ImpactU college incubator program. McLean will share her insights with Smith Institute through her “Lessons Learned” posts.

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