How can I get my boss to pay for Startup Weekend?

So you want to attend Startup Weekend, but you’re busy. Or you’re not sure how you can fit the ticket price into your budget. Or maybe both.

Have you considered pitching Startup Weekend to your boss as a weekend full of professional development opportunities?

Or maybe you’re a boss yourself, wondering how this event could benefit your employees and in turn, your company as a whole?

Kelsey Raymond (OG #SWCOMO supporter) joins us to explain how she, as Co-founder and President of Influence & Co., encourages employees to attend Startup Weekend — and even sponsors a few tickets for employees!


What do you do, and what has been your involvement with #SWCOMO?

I am the Co-founder and President of Influence & Co. I helped bring the first Startup Weekend to Columbia in 2011, and I’ve been involved in some format of organizing, mentoring or judging for every SW over the last 7 years.


As a boss, why (and how) do you encourage your employees to go to Startup Weekend?

We encourage employees to attend because 1) It’s a fun weekend! 2) It helps people to think creatively when they go through a process like this and 3) It can help with recruiting if our employees meet other awesome people and tell them about ICo.

We encourage them to attend by offering to cover the price of a ticket for a few employees, and send out emails letting everyone on the team know about the event.


What do you hope that your employees take away from SW?

I hope that our employees get the following from SW 1) Feel more connected to the Columbia community 2) Use some different skills / think differently than they do on a regular basis at work 3) Feel energized by all of the excitement around the weekend!


How is the weekend an opportunity for professional development?

It’s an opportunity for professional development because they are learning things that are so hard to learn in other environments. Talking to potential customers teaches them sales skills, pitching the idea teaches them public speaking skills, working on a team of people you JUST met teaches them collaboration skills. So many things  that I want employees to be working on an developing on a regular basis can be experienced at SW!


Any advice for an employee looking to “pitch” SW as a professional development opportunity to their boss?

They should tell their boss that through this event they will get to work on their public speaking, learn new industries/skills by working alongside programmers/graphic designers/lawyers/marketers etc., get great mentoring from people with a lot of experience in their fields, and potentially make some great connections that could benefit the company whether that be potential employees or potential customers.


Once your boss is on board, only one last thing to do… GET YOUR TICKET!