SWPgh Stories: "It's All About the Journey"

11/05/2014 | By Jeremy Burton

This post originally appeared on blog.up.co

Hello, everyone! Today is the first in a series of awe-inspiring guest posts between now and SWPgh#6. We have an all-star lineup of past participants and supporters here to share their experiences and insights about what it really means to participate in Startup Weekend Pittsburgh. Today, we're proud to bring you Lee Ngo. So take it away, Lee.

 — Christian Moreno, SWPgh#6 social media contributor

Lee Ngo: Winning takes back seat to community, creativity, innovation

I am addicted to Startup Weekend Pittsburgh.

[caption id="attachment_21534" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Lee Ngo This is what Startup Weekend addiction looks like.[/caption]

Since I moved to Pittsburgh two years ago, I have competed once, volunteered three times, and I'm about to organize twice: first for SWPgh#6 on Nov. 21-23, and then for Pittsburgh's first Startup Weekend Education in February. And yet ...

... I have never won or even placed.

My first experience was the greatest experience of my life. I was a competitor on a well-rounded, savvy team working to improve academic performance — and we had our asses handed to us by apps that:

[caption id="attachment_21535" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Lee's Nixon salute Going out a winner ... er, loser.[/caption]

I am jealous of the winners ... for about a day.

Ultimately, it did not matter if we won or lost. In fact, our company still continues on, much to everyone's surprise (even ours). And there are many other teams that have done well in spite of not winning or placing, but went on to do some interesting and fantastic stuff:

  • Inktd: a platform for tattoo artists to book their clients in an orderly manner
  • MaxMyTV: an integrated social media and home media tool
  • MegaBits: a massive multiplayer online game that uses geolocation
  • Nymbus: a way to integrate mobile technologies into the live event experience


Startup Weekend is a sprint. Entrepreneurship is a marathon.

Some ideas keep going, and others are done by the end of the competition. A few don't even make it to the presentation round, but we do everything we can to encourage them to go through the journey. Why? Because it's all about the journey.

You don't have to be a rock-star coder, a heralded artist, or a hotshot salesperson. You just have to be open and willing to be inspired by something new. It helps to be fearless, and it helps even more to be friendly.

SWPgh is 100% volunteer driven. We are not motivated by personal gain, for if we were, we'd be doing something else. We love the rush of entrepreneurship. We are addicted to teamwork, creativity, innovation, and theatricality. Above all, we do it for the community.

[caption id="attachment_21537" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Group photo. This photo is missing something: You.[/caption]

I come back every year because it's the most fun you'll have in the entrepreneurial world of Pittsburgh.

Join us. Startup Weekend was created just for you.

Lee Ngo is a co-organizer of Startup Weekend Pittsburgh and lead organizer of Startup Weekend Education Pittsburgh. He is also the founder of Scholar Hero, which was conceived at SWPgh#2.