Meet The Chicago Startup Weekend Team: Melissa Jimenez

02/05/2017 | By Caroline Ruark

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[caption id="attachment_47887" align="aligncenter" width="500"] "Be flexible and open minded. Don't be so tied to your idea that you stifle its potential for growth." - Melissa Jimenez[/caption]


Name: Melissa Jimenez

Age: 29

Hometown: Diego Martin, Trinidad & Tobago

Creative Industry of Focus: Live entertainment and Events

Role for Chicago Startup Weekend: Lead Organizer

Tell us a bit about yourself.

A classically trained singer who loves singing complex classical works (I'm talking about things like the 60 minute vocal performance of Carmina Burana - which I have memorized by the way) and Musicals (my favourite is Aida). I majored in Musical Arts and Sociology. Live entertainment, events and entrepreneurial business development is my passion. An ambivert on most days but if you really want to see me turn it on, watch me in event coordination mode. I love to dance but sadly structured dance doesn't like me - I tell people I have 6 left feet. When I'm not in work mode, being a Caribbean girl to my core, you can find me relaxing on a beach or cruising on a boat with a peach or mango cocktail in hand basking in the sunshine. The beach is my place of calm, rest and solace. It helps me to center and re-focus.

This is such a cliché question, but, where do you see yourself in your career in 5 years?

Managing and coordinating events for prominent independent clients, luxury hotels and cruise liners. If you top on another 5 years, I'd like to focus on cultural policy and be the next Minister of Arts and Culture in my homeland or be in a similar position, high enough to effect change and give direction to the local Arts and Entertainment industry with the aim of making it more self sufficient.

Have you attended a Startup Weekend before?

My first encounter with Startup Weekend was as a curious attendee in November 2014. I fell in love with the cause, its mission and and the community so much that I immediately reached out to the Organizer thereafter and told them that I wanted to be a part of the team for the next one. My professional expertise then was in Grant Writing so that's where the team utilized me and we produced a spectacular Startup Weekend event themed for Social Enterprises in June 2015. I worked remotely giving assistance to two other Startup Weekend teams thereafter and recently attended the Bloomington Indiana Startup Weekend.

If so, what did you enjoy about your Startup Weekend experience?

As an attendee, several features stood out to me most with the Startup Weekend experience. Besides the food, of course, the adrenaline rush, the insane networking and the ability to complete a project that would usually take average 6 months and more for the mediocre procrastinator took us only 54 hours. And, the end product of the weekend was AMAZING! People had websites built - functional and live - others had 3D renditions of prototypes and of course there were apps built as well - no Startup Weekend is ever complete without an app idea as the origins of the event was based on innovation within the tech space.

What can individuals expect at Startup Weekend Chicago?

Great food, great networking opportunities, a mix of people who may be just right to help you get your idea from thought to reality, and an intense work filled but fun weekend.

Why should people attend Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition?

We share a vision and desire to help grow the creative industry. There's more to the creative industry than just dance or music or visual art. We want YOU to be a forerunner, come with your ideas for ways to expand the innovation in our creative space. Whether it be a karoke app, a tool to help designers stitch clothes in half the time, software to boost DJ productivity and output or a service which makes booking venues easier for event managers.

What advice do you have for someone that wants to make their creative business idea/dream a reality?

Don't be afraid to pitch! Yes pitching can be scary but its worth it!

Startup Weekend provides a safe space to explore your idea, and work with people who have the skill set you don't readily possess who will help you flesh out the idea, solidify it and turn it into a reality. Be flexible and open minded. Don't be so tied to your idea that you stifle its potential for growth.

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Purchase tickets here.