Over 54 hours with a group of people he’d never met from across Fort Worth, Ngo put his teamwork skills to work to listen, analyze, inventory skills and pull it all together for the big win.
“Pitch Friday, Work Saturday, Launch Sunday.”
That’s the theme and schedule for Startup Weekend Fort Worth, a 54-hour competition dedicated to fostering new business ideas while strengthening the Fort Worth entrepreneurial community.
People of all ages and backgrounds from across Fort Worth pitched their business ideas on Friday and voted on the best ones to move forward in the competition. Participants then chose which idea they wanted to team with, formalized their team, inventoried skills and worked until midnight.
Austin Ngo was the only TCU student on his team. The youngest member was 17. They also had a web programmer and a fashion designer.
The teams met again Saturday to work from 8:30 a.m. till midnight on their ideas. Sunday, they received coaching and prepped for their presentations. The weekend ended with final pitches at WeWork Clearfork, followed by dinner and awards.
Ngo’s team won with an idea for BirdSnest, an e-commerce platform for eco-friendly products and sustainable brands.
Ngo called upon the teamwork and leadership skills he is learning in the BNSF Neeley Leadership program to motivate his team and keep them focused.
“My leadership style is relationship building, but I’ve really only used it around other Vietnamese students and leadership students. I used it here, and it actually worked,” he said.
At first, everyone on the team was focused on their ideas.
“I used the skills I’ve learned to step back, watch, analyze personalities, and then interact, build relationships, listen and keep the team together,” he said.
Ngo, an accounting major, also learned more about entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurship people are so willing to assist. Everyone at the competition was always asking if they could help. It was very supportive and motivating,” he said.
The top teams won office space and business services for three months at Ensemble Coworking, to help them see their visions into fruition.