UP Global’s Startup Weekend thrives on one thing: passion for entrepreneurship. And over the course of the last decade, there has been a dedicated team pushing it to scale and reach as many cities as possible to inspire as much entrepreneurial passion as possible.
Then we heard that one of the original founders, Joey Pomerenke, would be stepping into an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) role with UP Global, stepping down from his day-to-day with the company. And after hearing about his entrepreneurial journey to date, one thing is certain: he has, himself, an insatiable appetite for inspiring passion.
“This was one of the hardest decisions of my life, to leave the organization that I helped start and invested over four years of my life into,” says Pomerenke. “But, as Winston Churchill once said: ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.’”
It all began in the mid-2000s when Pomerenke read an article about the first-ever Tech Startup Weekend. As an entrepreneur at the time, he understood that entrepreneurship could be a lonely profession. However, he also saw how that added value to the concept of a Startup Weekend meetup.
“I was excited about Startup Weekend because it would bring people together solely around entrepreneurship,” says Pomerenke.
The emotional takeaway from that event stuck with him, though, and when Pomerenke then moved to Dallas, he jumped at the chance to organize the city’s first Startup Weekend. It slowly picked up steam, but the real fun began when Startup Weekend secured the Kauffman Foundation Grant - or, as the team calls it, their seed funding.
Right off the bat they were able to hire three employees, Pomerenke being one of them. Their focus from that point on was to scale the Startup Weekend concept to as many cities as they could.
“Our thought was that the more people who go through these events, the more impact we could have,” explains Pomerenke.
And that impact relates directly to the entrepreneurial passion that Pomerenke and Startup Weekend want to inspire. The reality is that a lot of people need to be inspired to achieve an entrepreneurial mindset.
That is, you have to read a book on entrepreneurship or attend an event like Startup Weekend. According to Pomerenke, there has to be something that plants the idea of “you can do this” in a person’s mind.
“Somebody might have gone to Startup Weekend and not gotten much at the time, but it’s definitely what tipped them off the edge of the cliff,” explains Pomerenke.
It all circles back home when you consider that the foundational precepts of Startup Weekend have nothing to do with company creation. Rather, it’s all about bringing the community together to create something unique: entrepreneurial passion.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere without the hard work and support of my entire Startup Weekend team,” says Pomerenke. “The real heroes here are the thousands of volunteers, office spaces, and team members who have helped, and will help in the future.”