How Does Startup Weekend PDX Use Ticket Fees?

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As a non-profit organization, Startup Weekend is often questioned about how much of the funds are really used to promote entrepreneurship. We’ve put together this blog posting, as some of you have asked where the ticket fee goes and we wanted to address this question in an open forum.
Startup Weekend PDX has become a wonderful event, put on in the metro area twice yearly now. We rely on an organizing team of around 10 volunteers and the support of local businesses. Despite strong support from the community, we still must sell tickets to make the event happen.

Tickets for the weekend-long Portland event are priced at $84 dollars. Those of you who purchased during early bird pricing paid only $54. If we sign up 50 participants, the event will collect around $3,000 from ticket sales.

Besides the venue itself, the largest expense is food. When we add in organizers, mentors, speakers and judges, we expect to feed at least 65 people for each meal, 7 times during the event. For our April event, Outback Steakhouse has graciously offered to donate dinner on Sunday night. That leaves 6 meals that Startup Weekend will purchase. We try to provide balanced meals of good quality and with a vegetarian option. In addition to meals, we provide ample snacks, soda, energy drinks and of course, coffee!

This year, your ticket to Startup Weekend PDX comes with an official event t-shirt. Sure, we didn’t have to do that, but we thought it would be a fun way to remember our intense weekend together. Besides, you have to wear clothes, at least sometimes, right? The shirt makes up $9 of the total ticket price, which is less than a shirt from woot.com, and way cooler to boot!

Another expense that doesn’t seem like much but can really add up is the office supplies and services. This includes things like printing fees, flip charts, paper plates, utensils and a whole host of other things that pop up while planning a 50-100 person, 3 day event.

You have probably also noticed the wonderful and big name sponsors listed on our web site. While in some cases those companies gave cash donations to the global Startup Weekend organization, they have rarely sponsored the Portland event financially. At this time we have three financial donors for the spring event, and you’ll hear much more about them in the coming weeks. Many companies choose to offer “in-kind” donations, which consist of free materials and services specifically to help the weekend’s startups. For example, Microsoft has offered EVERY Startup Weekend PDX team a Bizspark membership, which grants FREE access to Microsoft’s portfolio of professional software programs. It also provides free access to Microsoft’s cloud computing infrastructure, Windows Azure.

Other types of in-kind sponsorship goes towards the grand prize package for the winning team. Microsoft has offered $15,000 worth of prototyping, development and consulting services directly from their employees. The winning team will also receive $2,000 worth of local business and social media consulting services as well as GadgetTrak laptop security licenses for each team member.

Finally, if there is any money left over, Startup Weekend PDX returns up to $2,000 to the global Startup Weekend organization. Their work includes coordinating the more than 300 Startup Weekends that have already happened in over 150 cities around the world, forging partnerships with the likes of The Kauffman Foundation, and winning media coverage like the recent cover of Entrepreneur Magazine.

Think of it this way- you’re paying around $10 per meal for this weekend and gaining access to a whole lot of mentors, resources, and experiences that you might not find anywhere else! If you’re idea is truly awesome, your $84 investment can turn into the start of a great new career doing what you love!

So that’s where the money goes and just some of the value returned to participants. We hope this answers any questions you may have and that we have been as transparent as you’d like. Please don’t hesitate to contact someone from the organizing team if you have any questions.

In closing, a big “thank you” to the local companies that have stepped up and donated money to help put on our April event. They are: Urban Airship, Puppet Labs and Bridge City Ventures (the Portland Seed Fund).

See you in April!