Second year of Startup School looks to build on the success of the first

Matt Brooks/Photo by Chamira YoungStartup School returns to the Blue Water region this month with a full day’s worth of programming and networking opportunities for soon-to-be and established area entrepreneurs. We spoke with Blue Water Startups & Entrepreneurs founder Matt Brooks about this year’s event.

Startup School 2018 takes place on Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Riverbank Theatre in downtown Marine City.

Q: What is new and exciting about this year's iteration of Startup School 2018?

Last year's Startup School was our first. It was a great event, yet we learned so much from it that will make this year's so much more impactful.

This year's Startup School features an amazing group of successful entrepreneurs--both local and out-of-town/state--who will be on-stage in the Riverbank Theatre through the morning (8 a.m. to noon) sharing their stories of startup and growth. We'll all have lunch together, which will be a "Taste of Marine City," offering food from 8-10 local restaurants. Then, the afternoon (1-5 p.m.) will be full of breakout sessions and workshops on a variety of engaging topics.

All that info is laid out here.

Q: You've often mentioned taking a "drinking-from-a-firehose approach" to providing advice for entrepreneurs. What is that approach and why is it important?

There is a LOT of knowledge poured out throughout a nine-hour day, hence the drinking from the firehose analogy! Another exciting addition to this year's conference is the follow-up that will be happening over the weeks and months following Startup School. So many times, people attend a conference, learn a lot during the day, but lose momentum after or don't know how to put the know-how into action. We're going to incorporate follow-up by way of online and in-person interaction.

Q: What sort of unique opportunities await entrepreneurs in the Blue Water region?

These days, with technology making it easy to run so many types of businesses from anywhere with internet access, entrepreneurs don't have to move to the coasts or to a big city if they don't want to. Many seek a work/life balance and appreciate communities like ours that offer so much to do in a lifestyle outside of the hustle and grind of the big city.

Q: Conversely, what are some of the challenges and how can they best be addressed?

A true "entrepreneurial ecosystem" has formed over just these past few years. So many organizations, local governments, and community leaders are excited about attracting and retaining small businesses. There are real support systems, including Blue Water Startups & Entrepreneurs, working alongside the local Chambers of Commerce, our Economic Development Alliance, a very active Community Foundation, and several of our area banks, all who are vocal champions and enthusiastic partners to those considering starting a new business or growing what's already been started in this area.

Q: Being an entrepreneur can often be a singular, isolating experience. How can events like Startup School 2018 change that?

Any stage of the entrepreneur's journey can feel isolated and lonely. This a path not understood by people that haven't done it themselves. It's so important to get out there and build relationships with fellow entrepreneurs that can offer support, advice, brainstorming, solutions, or will just belly up to a bar with you and talk things out. Startup School is a once-per-year opportunity that we create that brings 150+ like-minded people together for a day of inspiration, learning, and making connections that can last for years!

Info and tickets, while available:

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