WILMINGTON – This weekend, UNC Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will transform into a space for students and community members to test and validate their startup ideas.

Startup Weekend Wilmington is part of an international event series run by Techstars. The popular program is a 54-hour experience where participants pitch their ideas, form teams around skillsets, get feedback from mentors, build a prototype and finally present the product in a demo presentation on Sunday night.

The environment allows participants to take a dip into the startup-building process before they dive in entirely.

Wilmington’s first Startup Weekend kicks off March 29 at 5 p.m. at the UNCW CIE and closes March 31 at 9 p.m. The organizing team is made up of representatives from UNCW CIE and Office of Innovation and Commercialization, tekMountain and the Small Business and Technology Development Center.

The event has been in the works since last fall, but organizers had to postpone the program in October after Hurricane Florence.

Startup Weekend includes an opening keynote from George Taylor, serial entrepreneur and chairman of Wilmington tech startup Untappd, a social network for beer enthusiasts.

Over the course of the weekend, participants will receive mentoring from Paul Baron of WebTel Marketing, Lisa Brandkamp of Marsch Consulting, Bill Knowles of ideawrks, Heather McWhorter of the Small Business and Technology Development Center at UNCW, Fran Scarlett of the Institute for Nonprofit News, Michael Angerhauser of Adam Shay CPA and entrepreneur Rick Barton.

The event concludes in a pitch session with a group of judges:

  • Gene Kemp, managing director at Wilmington-based Peregrine Consulting and former executive at ECC, HBE Corporation, ABB and Kinetics Systems.
  • Virginia Sourlis, corporate attorney and founder of Sourlis Law Firm.
  • William Mansfield, founder of Wilmington startup Social Haven and SVP of product innovation and technology at New York-based Suzy.

Laura Brogdon-Primavera, manager of programs and operations at UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, says around 30 attendees are expected at Startup Weekend.

“The participants include UNC Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College students as well as community members,” Brogdon-Primavera said. “We have a solid list of coaches and mentors coming in throughout the weekend and a great lineup of judges as well.”

Tickets cost $59 for students and $69 for community members. Registration includes coffee and seven meals over the course of the event, plus discounts from Techstars partners.