February 22, 2022

StartupWeekend Columbia is Back — This Time at an Alumni’s HQ


After hitting the pause button in 2020 and 2021 and taking a break because of the Covid 19 pandemic, Startup Weekend Columbia has returned to mid-Missouri. Startup Weekend Columbia is being hosted by Scale, an accelerator program founded by leaders of successful Columbia companies, including EquipmentShare— this year's venue sponsor and the winner of the event in 2014. 

Startup Weekend is a local version of a global event series hosted by Techstars Startup Weekend, a nonprofit organization that educates and encourages would-be entrepreneurs.

Startup Columbia will kick off Friday night, when participants pitch their business ideas to the other participants. Over the next 54 hours teams will form around several of those ideas, and participants will spend time planning, building and testing their ideas. On Sunday evening, teams deliver final pitches, and a panel of judges will choose the next billion dollar idea.

The weekend is an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to collaborate with mentors, investors and other like-minded individuals to create the next billion-dollar startup right here in the “Silicon Prairie.”

After years of working in construction, brothers Jabbok and Willy Schlacks came up with an idea to build connectivity for the industry and brought the idea to Startup Weekend. In 2014, they were named the winners of the competition. In the years since, EquipmentShare has become the fastest-growing equipment company in the country and rapidly expanded to 3,000 employees across the nation. 

Jabbok Schlacks pitching EquipmentShare in 2014. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Business Alert.

In 2021, the brothers started Scale with co-founder and partner Jai Malik. Located in downtown Columbia, Scale serves as a hybrid accelerator and venture studio in the Midwest imparting time, knowledge, and capital in startups at the earliest stages of development as well as helping innovative entrepreneurs take advantage of opportunities that exist between the East and West Coasts. 

“The idea of leaving your stable job for sleepless lonely nights can be tough to stomach. Startup Weekend brings entrepreneurs out of their comfort zone to pitch their ideas and take the leap of launching a business but in the form of a fast-paced challenge,” says Brett Calhoun, Director of Scale. “There is tons of hidden talent in Missouri, but sometimes entrepreneurs just need a little boost of confidence and support.”

EquipmentShare’s headquarters serves as the perfect destination for weekend participants to enjoy a collaborative workspace, fun “brain break” experiences as well as catered meals for the weekend. Scale will offer the winning idea and team with 24/7 support, a co-working space, resources to build, exposure to customers and potential investors, media placements and a team of founders to mentor them.

“We formed Scale to foster the development of entrepreneurs by focusing more on the person than the idea,” said Jabbok Schlacks, CEO of EquipmentShare. “Hosting Startup Weekend aligns with Scale’s mission to identify entrepreneurs with the potential to build high-growth, scalable companies and bring good ideas to the marketplace.”

By serving as the venue sponsor and host,  EquipmentShare and Scale are able to show participants firsthand what can happen when their idea succeeds and has the backing of the community and local investors. 

As attendees collaborate and plan the next billion-dollar startup, they will also be exposed to the people-first environment that exists at EquipmentShare. The on-site fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, nutritious meals and snacks are available to participants as well as full-time employees of EquipmentShare.

EquipmentShare continues to innovate and launch new products every quarter, as well as find ways to support other entrepreneurs— especially those in their own backyard. EquipmentShare, Scale and other supporting local businesses are excited to help launch the next billion-dollar idea right here in Columbia, Mo. 

Read more at Columbia TechStar Startup weekend is back after 2-year hiatus

Pictured here are Brad Siegler, Jabbok Schlacks, Jeff Lowe and Andrew Lowe — our team present at this year's event and who were a part of the 2014 Startup Columbia Weekend EquipmentShare winning team.

UPDATE: Appreciate wins Startup Weekend Columbia 2022

A huge congratulations to team Appreciate, a prop tech idea geared towards streamlining the tenant due diligence process and increasing landlord profit margins.

A surprise tied second place saw Farm Find and Instaseat receive joint recognition. Farm Find pitched an innovative online market place linking beef producers to consumers and addressing the supply chain issues the industry has faced in recent years.

Instaseat’s pitch focused on revolutionizing the way restaurants manage bookings to increase their revenue alongside providing customers with a skip-the-line option!

Finally, Shades of Color took third, with their idea of an online market place that provides targeted products to individuals who struggle to match their skin tones in store.

The team from Appreciate celebrates their win at 2022 Startup Columbia Weekend.

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