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Find Your Startup Dream Team at TechRaising: A Conversation with Andrew Mueller

Find Your Startup Dream Team at TechRaising: A Conversation with Andrew Mueller
Build your dream team at this year's TechRaising startup weekend

By Molly Ressler

After a four-year hiatus, TechRaising 2018 is expected to attract up to 150 dreamers and doers for a highly anticipated startup weekend. Those looking to create their startup dream team, join a startup, or just learn how to move from pitch to product are all encouraged to come.

“TechRaising is for anyone with an idea they want to build or explore. It’s also for anyone who wants to help others and be part of a team,” explains co-founder Andrew Mueller.  

Since the last event in 2014, a lot has happened in Santa Cruz tech, and Mueller is excited to bring TechRaising back while the community is at its strongest. People outside county lines are also taking notice. Media giants like Forbes, Huffington Post, and TechCrunch are talking about local startups including Buoy, Inboard, Ya Doggie, Onewheel, and Paystand. And, of course, there are the established tech companies like Looker and Amazon who are now cumulatively employing hundreds of people right here in Santa Cruz.   

The first TechRaising, however, came about when the tech movement in Santa Cruz was languishing. People were hungry for ways to cultivate new connections, spark ideas, and foster creativity. The community desperately needed a catalyst to regain its momentum and reinspire its members.

From Rafting to TechRaising

Inspiration for the first TechRaising struck Mueller during a Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup at Elks Lodge back in 2011. Margaret Rosas, now Director of Customer Love at Looker, was speaking about the current state of local tech and seemed uncharacteristically dispirited. Mueller believed in the community’s innovative entrepreneurs and talent, but he shared Rosas’s disillusionment. He asked himself, ‘What can we do to prop-up and attract attention to our tech community?’

A veteran white water rafting guide, Mueller knew how to bring groups of people together and successfully guide them through an experience. He had also participated in startup weekends and worked with startups to Fortune 500s as a business and marketing strategy consultant. He had not, however, organized a large event. Still, he envisioned a gathering that encouraged the growth and success of the tech ecosystem as a whole—an event that valued collaboration over competition—and he decided to make it happen.

Mueller joined forces with Rosas and Matthew Swinnerton, Santa Cruz Works Programs Director and Founder of Event Santa Cruz, and after just six weeks of dreaming, scheming, and planning the trio welcomed close to 100 participants to the first ever TechRaising weekend.

What to Expect at TechRaising 2018

Since that first TechRaising in 2011, there have been three others attracting big-league players in tech including Peter Jennings, who designed the first notebook computer, and Steven Beitzel, one of the first software engineers for LinkedIn.

TechRaising 2018 kicks off on Friday, June 1, when participants pitch their product or business idea to the group. They have 90-seconds to inspire the developers, designers, marketing professionals and other potential ‘dream team’ members to help them build out that idea over the next two days.   

Friendly networking ensues and invaluable relationships are formed. People gravitate to whichever fledgling business idea they want to help take flight. Mentors provide guidance and advice to the groups and a spirit of collaboration and mutual support permeates the weekend.   

“The point is that even if you don’t end up with a successful idea you’re building a network of people,” says Mueller, “so when you need something you’re not just stuck; you have resources that you can draw from. This is just the beginning. It’s an extremely valuable experience.”

That said, many TechRaising alumni have either received funding or found people to help build a product that’s gone to market. For example, one of the groups at the first TechRaising received enough funding to pay a team of developers for a full year. Another created a business called SupplyShift and became one of seven finalists at New York’s TechCrunch Disrupt. They recently closed series A funding and are actively growing their business here in Santa Cruz. 

Mueller emphasizes, however, that the core value of the event isn’t creating a successful product or service, it’s about making connections and going through the process of building out an idea. In this spirit, he has three useful tips for this year’s attendees that will help everyone get the most out of the weekend:

“One, come with an open mind,” says Mueller. “Two, come with the understanding that whatever you do will not be perfect by the end of the weekend. And three, come with the attitude that you want to learn.”  

With that advice in mind, head on over to techraising.com to register for the event before it sells out. For those interested in supporting the local Santa Cruz tech community by sponsoring TechRaising 2018, find out more here. (This year's Ecosystem & Platinum Sponsors include Santa Cruz Economic Development, Cruzio Internet, Product Ops, Plantronics, Launch Brigade, and Cloud Brigade.)

What: TechRaising 2018

When: June 1-3

Where: Cruzio,  877 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Details & Tickets: techraising.com

Santa Cruz tech companies: Join Santa Cruz Works at santacruzworks.org/membership

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Molly Ressler is a writer and content strategist based in Santa Cruz. Find more of her work at mollyressler.com.