Santa Barbara

UP Global Regional Summit Comes to SB – Feb 19-22, 2015

santabarbaraWe are excited to be hosting the first-ever UP Global Regional Summit, right here in Santa Barbara, California. This inaugural event will bring together Community Leaders who have organized and facilitated Startup Weekend, Startup Digest, Startup Next, and Startup Education around the Western United States and beyond.

We expect 60-80 community leaders, UP Global staff and leadership, and special guests to converge February 19-22, 2015 in Santa Barbara.

Through a generous donation by The Eleos Foundation, housing at the Pacifica Graduate Institute, Ladera Campus, is FREE for participants (while space permits). This beautiful campus offers breathtaking views and scenic accommodations.

The program for the long weekend includes a curriculum of information for community leaders, plenty of networking and getting-to-know-you activities, fun excursion options for the physically active or wine-aficionado, explorations of the vibrant Santa Barbara startup community and successes, and of course a blow-out party with a special surprise.


Santa Barbara locals who want to get involved, sponsor, or volunteer should contact me via twitter (@rongans) or LinkedIn.

(Originally posted on UP Global. View latest information.)

The Winning Startup Weekend Presentation

Do you want to win Startup Weekend? The secret to a winning presentation is not what you may think.

winning trophyYou may be in a strong active startup community, like we have in Santa Barbara, where over two dozen “been there done that” mentors are guiding 20+ teams through market validation, customer acquisition, design, and product development. If you are one of the 75+ pitches that the crowd selected to become a team, then you are likely to excel out of the gate in one or more of these areas. So, you have strong competition and the judges will have their work cut out for them deciding who should win the top prizes.

First, make sure you cover all the basics:


  • You need a strong and diverse team that knows design, product development, and marketing.
  • Actively build your team during the networking phase before the pitches start. Come in knowing what skills you need and start recruiting early.


  • You need to do solid market validation. 54 hours is plenty of time for a pivot or two if the market is not what you thought. Pivot early if it looks like the market isn’t what you expected.


  • You need to show you can make money.
  • It is great if you have initial customer names and emails who are signed up for your product or service. It is better if you’ve actually taken pre-payment for delivery or have a signed contract. Yes, teams actually do manage to do these things in 54 hours during the weekend.


  • You need solid design, but only on what you are presenting. This is key. If you are going to present a web site or app, that needs to look good. If you are going to present physical product or a prototype visual, those need to look good. If you are not going to be presenting it, don’t waste time designing it. Instead put your design energies into designing your presentation.


  • No, you do not need a working product. This is not a hack-a-thon. This is startup weekend.
  • If you have development-only team members and building a working product won’t take away from other things, then great, build something that works. You’ll get extra credit for that.
  • Otherwise, build only enough to do a demo. Yes, PowerPoint is fine. Yes, a “product” with “imagined or fake” functionality is fine. Don’t pretend that you built more than you did, but show what the user experience will be. People are awarding the vision, not how much code you can hack in 54 hours.
Once you have the basics covered, even if they are covered well, that won’t necessarily take you to the win. Remember what you are being judged on? It is your final five-minute presentation to the judges.

The Presentation

Start thinking about your presentation Saturday and take your first hack at what it will look like. Plan on redoing your presentation at least five times before Sunday evening. When we won startup weekend two years ago, we had gone through almost a dozen revisions of our presentation before we had our final pitch ready.

Practice, practice, practice. You have mentors. Use them. Run through your presentation to the mentors. Listen for their feedback and revise, revise, revise.

Five-minutes is a lot of time if you use it wisely. It is very short if you waste it. What can you do to maximize your use of the time? Especially if you want to demo a product, you don’t want to waste time clicking around and typing things in during your precious time. Consider pre-recording a video of your demo. This gets you the best possible demo using the shortest possible amount of your five minutes. It also gives you flexibility on how you show users interacting with your product.

But the key thing that will drive you up to the top slot … Connect with your audience and judges on a deep, emotional level. The judges should feel like this is a product that is meaningful to them or is something they personally want to use or see developed. Show the impact of your product on people and how it solves their needs. Give testimonials of future clients who really want to have your product.

Below is the final presentation of the Santa Barbara Startup Weekend first place team. See how this impacts you personally on an emotional level:

On the flip side, should winning Startup Weekend be your goal of joining Startup Weekend. I argue in a different post that there are things more important than winning.

Latest Tweets from Santa Barbara Technology Companies

stockphoto-keyboardAre you interested in getting the latest news from Santa Barbara Technology Companies? I am. So, I’ve created a list of SB Tech companies who have twitter accounts. Now I can see all the latest tweets from our local tech scene in one place.

Let me know if your favorite tech or startup company is not represented on the list. Just send or tweet me (@rongans) their twitter handle and I’ll be happy to add them.

To those tech companies who don’t have twitter accounts, what are you waiting for? You are a tech company after all.

And to meet all sorts of interesting people in town, be sure to check out my blog entry on Santa Barbara Networking Groups.

Santa Barbara Makes Waves in Global Startup Community

Team Santa Barbara returned from Las Vegas and this year’s UP Summit with some great news to share. But before I break that bombshell, I hear you asking “Up What?”

UP Summit

UP Summit is self-described as the “largest grassroots gathering of startup Community Leaders from across the planet.” It is the annual global leadership conference of UP Global, a merger of Startup Weekend and Startup America.

UP Summit Community leaders

UP Summit Community leaders gathering before dinner

UP Global currently engages over 300,000 entrepreneurs in 500+ cities across 126 countries. Their goal by 2016 is 500,000 entrepreneurs in 1000 startup communities.

This year’s UP Summit, held in Las Vegas, brought together over 500 community organizers, volunteers, and UP Global staff who support the four major initiatives of UP Global:

  1. Startup Weekend
  2. Startup Next
  3. Startup Digest
  4. Startup Education

UP Global Programs

SBSW3The Startup Weekend weekend program has been held three times so far in Santa Barbara, as well as in neighboring cities such as Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo. It brings together entrepreneurs for 54 hours to pitch an idea, form a team, and create a startup company from scratch. Startup Next, as its name implies, takes Startup Weekend or other fledgling companies to the next level of growth.

Startup Digest is a weekly curated email listing and calendar of the most relevant startup news in a local community. You can sign up for the Santa Barbara Startup Digest. Startup Education is a program to support startups specifically in the education vertical.

The UP Summit Experience

The goals of UP Summit were to bring together a diverse group of community leaders who all share the commonality of organizing their local startup communities. Rather than the formal lecture format you might expect in an ordinary conference, the summit was designed to provide many opportunities for meeting people, networking, sharing ideas, group discussions, and learning.

Marc Nager, Brad Feld, and Steve Case hold a "fireside chat".

Marc Nager, Brad Feld, and Steve Case hold a “fireside chat”.

Activities included “fireside chats”, short lectures with lots of discussion, meals together in many different combinations and configurations, and fun events such as indoor skydiving, driving a bulldozer, and zip lining.

We also pulled out some tricks from the entrepreneurial community, such as Ignite, a series of presentations, each exactly 5-minutes long, containing 20 slides for exactly 15 seconds each.

Major speakers included Steve Case, Cofounder of AOL, Marc Nager, CEO of UP Global, and Brad Feld, author of Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City.

The Big News

Santa Barbara was represented by five of our Startup Weekend and Startup Digest leaders: Kyle Ashby, Jose Huitron, Laura Fagundes, Jim McGaw, and Ron Gans. We went with the goal of bringing back knowledge and contacts for our local startup community as well as raising awareness of Santa Barbara on the national and global scene. And that we did …

Santa Barbara attendees Kyle Ashby and Jose Huitron

Santa Barbara attendees Kyle Ashby and Jose Huitron

We are happy to announce that Santa Barbara will be hosting the Southwest USA Regional UpSummit conference in January 2015. This will bring in community leaders from a half dozen states in the region and provide national and international attention for Santa Barbara’s entrepreneurs, startup companies, and startup successes.

We are excited to have the opportunity to show off our local and regional community and bring national attention and business into our area.

Santa Barbara Startup Weekend #3 Winners

Congratulations to the Santa Barbara Startup Weekend winners:

First Place
Next Mover

Second Place
Gear Up

Best Physical Product

Most CrowdFundable

Most Hustle
My Custom Cookie

Crowd Favorite
My Parking Spot

Santa Barbara Groups

(Updated October 2016)

Santa Barbara is a town of microclimates. The weather variation from one side of town to another, or one block to another, is as significant as the weather variation from season to season. It is the same with the business community. In my explorations I have discovered quite a variety of business meet-ups, groups, and organizations and there are not too many people who move between all of these groups.For those looking to expand beyond their own familiar territory, I’ve started a list of some of these groups and suggestions for finding more. What are your favorite groups that you don’t see on the list?


Startup Focused Groups & Resources

Santa Barbara Startup Weekend – Runs an annual weekend long event for entrepreneurs to start companies, networks, and build community. Find regional startup weekend at the Startup Weekend site or participate in the annual November Global Startup Battle.

StartupSB – Formerly StartupSB MeetUp – 1500+ member group that runs monthly networking get-togethers and presentations. Closely associated with SB Startup Weekend.

Startup Digest – A weekly (or so) newsletter listing local events and activities for the startup community.

MIT Enterprise Forum of the Central Coast – Hosts monthly business and technology events linking experienced entrepreneurs to the community.

Santa Barbara Hacker Space – A space for physical product innovation.

Clean Business Investment Summit – Annual conference for entrepreneurs to connect with investors.

University Groups

UCSB Technology Management Program – TMP is the focal point for management training and entrepreneurial education at UCSB.

The Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation – Santa Barbara City College hub of entrepreneurial activity. Runs periodic events open to students and the public.

Friends of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) – Holds public lectures on physics topics a dozen times a year.

Antioch University MBA Program – Started in fall 2014 with a focus on management of social impact businesses and non-profits.

Technology Focused Groups

Science and Engineering Council of Santa Barbara – Holds monthly luncheon programs on technical topic of interest. Also supports scholarships for local college students.

IEEE Central Coast Chapter

Santa Ynez Valley Technology Club

ASME Channel Islands – American Society of Mechanical Engineers local chapter for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Various MeetUp.Com Groups – There are quite a variety of these in Santa Barbara. Some examples are below:

  1. Santa Barbara Hackerspace
  2. UX Group
  3. Mobile Santa Barbara
  4. Javascript
  5. Ruby on Rails
  6. “R” (Programming Language)
  7. Society for Technical Communication
  8. Newbie Web Developer and Web Designer Meetup
  9. Santa Barbara AngularJS Meetup
  10. Learn to Code — Santa Barbara
  11. SB Agile

Incubators/Working Spaces

Workzones – Membership-based co-working space offering day-user passes, conference rooms, and private offices.

Synergy Business & Technology Center – Co-working space for local startup companies and entrepreneurs.

Santa Barbara Impact HUB – Opened July 2016. Part of a global network of socially oriented incubators.

Goleta Entrepreneurial Magnet – Incubator space in Old Town Goleta, which aims to serve as a catalyst for startups in the area as well as a way to capture young talent and ideas emerging from UCSB.

Noospheric is a Santa Barbara Incubator that provides expert business consulting and strategic investment to startups focused on the Quantified Self and Data Algorithm market sectors.

Tech Haus coworking and event space.

In Santa Ynez, The Network is a coworking space.

UCSB offers many Shared Instrument Labs available for industry use, as well as the California Nanosystem Institute Incubator for UCSB-affiliated startups.

Business Groups

Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce

Goleta Chamber of Commerce


Santa Barbara County Connections

Santa Barbara Young Professionals

Softec: The Central Coast Technology Association

Women-Focused Groups

Women’s Economic Ventures – Trains (mostly) women to start brick-and-mortar companies and home-based businesses. Also provides loans and other business assistance.

Women’s Community Business Network – Hold monthly luncheons. Additional benefits for members, such as an online membership directory.

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) – Regular meetings on the 4th Wednesday of each month. Additional benefits for members.

Santa Barbara Women in Technology International (WITI) Group – Both web events and monthly local networking events.

Santa Barbara Women Entrepreneurs Meetup Group and the Women’s Community Business Network.

School Mentoring/Volunteer Opportunities

Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (High School)

Santa Barbara High School Robotics Club

Santa Barbara High School Green Academy

Santa Barbara County Science Fair (Junior High School)

MOXI: Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

SB County Education Office – Computers for Families Program