Startup Weekend Stories: Sarah, new in town

Startup Weekend Stories: Memories, reflections and lessons learned from Startup Weekend events in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, Iowa. 

Today we meet Sarah Dunlap, an Iowa City transplant by way of Portland, Ore. She owns ApplePOPDesign, a web design and SEO/SEM firm. She saw Startup Weekend as a way to get plugged in to a new town: “Since I was new to the area, I thought it would be neat to meet others in the community and work on a new project.”

Sarah dunlap


What were your hopes and goals going into the weekend?

I wanted to meet others in the community. I also thought it would be interesting to see how others operate and see what it is like to work on a start-up project with other people. Most of the projects I’ve worked on have been solo projects.

What was the most challenging part of the weekend? Were there any unexpected moments?

I think the most challenging part is working with people you don’t know very well especially if you are new to the area. You have to figure out how to work as a team in a short amount of time. It is exciting to spend the weekend working on something and see it come together so fast. I really was surprised at the amount of work all the teams were able to accomplish in one weekend.

Advice I would give to someone before attending startup weekend:

It is important to have a direct conversation very soon after the weekend to discuss as a team how the project is going to continue.

Find the next Startup Weekend in Iowa at!

It's Not About The "Boy's Club" Anymore: 5 Lessons From Womens Startup Lab by Ari Horie

It’s Not About “The Boys’ Club” Anymore: 5 Lessons From Women’s Startup Lab by Ari Horie

This post, written by Startup Weekend Sacramento Women’s Edition’s Keynote Speaker, Ari Horie, originally appeared on Huff Post Blog on 5/15/14.

If you’re a woman in business, maybe you’re familiar with this story: You’re leading a meeting or driving a deal and when you’re face-to-face with a client, he approaches your male colleague as the decision-maker rather than you. Why is it that a business woman is often mistaken for the executive assistant, rather than the boss? It’s tough to admit that people still struggle with unconscious bias even during a time or industry many people consider to be progressive.

Guy Kawasaki, former Chief Evangelist of Apple, and now Canva, recently said at a recent Women’s Startup Lab Unconference, “The way to get Silicon Valley to this next paradigm on gender is to very simply realize it’s so difficult to create a successful company in general that you need to use all your weapons and to think that you are not using half your weapons because of gender really is ludicrous.”

I began Women’s Startup Lab because I believe in the power behind community, even when it comes to the competitive nature of early stage startups and new markets. Collective intelligence, designed in either an accelerator model or through one’s research, is the backbone to efficiency and learning the lessons without doing it the hard way, wasting valuable time, money, and may I add — emotion.

The innovative leader wants to be successful in his or her career and surround him or herself with other successful men and women. It’s no longer a zero-sum game because we’re all defining our own meaning of what success means to us and within our individual markets. While sexism still, unfortunately, persists in our culture, I don’t believe the general and open-minded thinker is “out to get” women.

Claire Cain Miller’s recent New York Times article “Technology’s Man Problem,” gave clear insight into the gendered outlook from the dark corners of the technocracy, whereas Claire Shipman and Katty Kay’s recent article, “The Confidence Gap,” in The Atlantic parses the difference between men and women’s competence verses confidence. Anecdotal and empirical studies survey that women generally score higher on competency across the board, whereas men are far more confident, therefore they get promoted and move ahead faster than women.

These trending articles make me ask: “Why are women trying to join the ‘Boys’ Club,’ when we can rebuild a culture where both women and men are at the bargaining table?” People hold an unconscious bias and as a society we need to wake up from our idle state and reinvigorate the workforce with new and inclusive standards to allow innovation to flourish, independent of gender.

Born in Hiroshima, Japan, I’ve built my professional career around the notion that your differences aren’t impediments, but powerful resources to bring to the table. At Women’s Startup Lab, we empower our business growth through community collaboration and here are some of the best lessons we’ve learned together:

1. Remember to collaborate even when you think business is about competition. Entrepreneurship is a lonely road, especially for women. Women founders face the same obstacles as all startups, such as fundraising, building a customer base, establishing business acumen, and communicating effectively. Women also deal with the added pressure of working with investors, customers and colleagues who address business differently. Women’s Startup Lab provides a place for women tech entrepreneurs to be members of a collaborative community, gain business and personal skills, emotional support, confidence, and build their network to develop the precise set of skills needed to start, run and grow a thriving startup. In all this, seek insight and community from those women who are experiencing the same struggles. By exchanging intelligence, you can learn solutions for future strategies, while also getting answers for your current problems.

2. It’s not just about “leaning in.” Sheryl Sandberg told business women to “lean in,” but it’s also important to remember that success in business has more to it than pushing yourself, but it’s about how you leverage opportunities, your skill set and your community. This is where The Hito Rule comes in, inspired by the Japanese character meaning “human.” Pictorially, the character is comprised of two arcs leaning against one another. Similar to collaborating, Hito reminds us it’s important to lean in, lean up, and lean on your community to better your business. There’s always an exchange; you’ll help someone out and they, in turn, will help you — which, brings me to the importance of networking:

3. Networking isn’t about quantity, but quality. Aim high to meet trusted and well-respected advisors and partners for future opportunities. Facetime is invaluable and strong connections are made by engaging with the same people more than once. Remember to be tactical with the events you attend. Don’t go to a free event because it’s free. Spend your time at specific events. For example, instead of going to a general tech startup event, attend a specific gathering like a Speakers Panel for Angel Investors in the gaming industry. By narrowing your scope, you’ll meet the right niche of people and begin to cement strong relationships.

4. There’s nothing like finding strength and accountability in a community that you’ve helped build. Community and understanding what a fellow founder is going through is invaluable, and Women’s Startup Lab has been critical in many women’s business development. All Cohort members contribute to the success, lessons, and culture to Women’s Startup Lab. As one founder noted, “Women’s Startup Lab makes you accountable, but it’s a different accountability than what you have with a Board of Directors.” Imbue meaning into your work by connecting with others as well as yourself. In business, it’s important to find your own color or song and you’ll resonate more with investors and your audiences.

5. There are always options. As a founder, you determine the path for your business success. Sometimes, the navigation takes a different route than what we see modeled in Silicon Valley, but that doesn’t mean it’s a wrong choice. Through mentors and hearing alternative ways of doing things, founders can learn how to incorporate new techniques to carve an alternative route to success.

The Winner of Global Startup Battle's Women's Circle powered by Coca-Cola is Adlet.

We are proud to announce the winner of the Women’s Circle powered by Coca-Cola and the 5by20 Team.


Adlet – an ad platform which makes your advertising easy. Adlet makes it quick and easy for small business and independent bloggers to buy and sell ads.

Check out these prizes!

  • Up to $10,000 to travel to meet Coca-Cola experts who will support Adlet in building their startup idea. Meet at Coke HQ in Atlanta or somewhere near the team!
  • A meeting with Coca-Cola Women Executives who will help Adlet hone their idea and be successful long-term.
  • Adlet gets to pick the mind of an entrepreneur celebrity via Google+ Hangout. Ask them anything!
  • All teammates will get directly connected with people and resources that will help them be successful.

Congratulations to Adlet and all the Women’s Circle participants! Remember, we’re here to support all of your teams, not just the winners. If you think there is something our team can help with, don’t hesitate to email to get in touch with the team. Congratulations all!