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  • Writer's pictureW Michael Buckovich

Energizing Entrepreneurs at Techstars Startup Weekend

Updated: Jun 26

A Vision to Venture Success

In the world of entrepreneurship, the analogy of a funnel is frequently employed to describe the entrepreneurial ecosystem. But which part of this funnel needs the most focus? According to Chris Heivly’s article, “Founders First: Prioritizing the Top of the Funnel in Startup Community Development,” it’s crucial to always emphasize the top of the funnel, regardless of how mature your startup ecosystem is. Heivly notes, “Your top-of-funnel activities represent a chance to build a pipeline of founders. The larger the pipeline, the better chances you have of breakout companies.”

At Vision to Venture, we are dedicated to energizing entrepreneurial ecosystems by focusing on the top of the funnel. We support idea and early-stage entrepreneurs, providing them with the resources needed to increase the startup success rate! 

A Transformative Weekend in Winston-Salem

Just over three months ago, 44 innovators came together for 54 transformative hours at the Techstars Startup Weekend Winston-Salem 2024. This event was a catalyst for abstract thinking, collaboration, and entrepreneurial spirit. Whether participants were seeking co-founders, meeting influential mentors, receiving feedback on a business idea, challenging their ability to be a founder, or engaging with ecosystem leaders, this weekend proved to be life-changing—a quintessential top-of-the-funnel event.

For 54 intense hours, we watched ideas take shape. Guided by our exceptional facilitator, Ilene Marcus, and a diverse array of mentors, teams embarked on a transformative journey of ideation and creation.

Showcasing Innovation

With eager anticipation, we witnessed each team present their groundbreaking ideas (over 30 of our 44 presented an idea!) to an audience of local ecosystem leaders, mentors, friends, and family. Here are some impressive statistics from the weekend:

  • 44 Attendees on Friday Night

  • Participants from New York to Florida and all parts of North Carolina

  • 29 First-Time Pitches

  • 7 Winning Ideas

  • 6 Teams

  • 5 Organizing Team Members

  • 13 Mentors

  • 11 Supporters

  • 3 Speakers

  • 10 Volunteers

  • 7 Colleges Represented

  • 1 Techstars Facilitator

Celebrating Our Winners

While all six pitching teams were exceptional, three stood out as remarkable winners:

  1. 1st Place: "Squishy Toes"

  • Prize: $2,500 value Winston Starts Explore Program Full Scholarship, 3-month Flywheel Membership - Team, and 10 hours blended Mentorship.

  1. 2nd Place: "Destination Dishes"

  • Prize: $1,500 value Winston Starts Explore Program ½ Scholarship, 2 Months Flywheel Membership - Team, and 5 Hours blended Mentorship.

  1. 3rd Place: "Good Dog Games"

  • Prize: $750 value, 2 Months Flywheel Membership - Team, and 5 Hours blended Mentorship.Additionally, Persona Homes won a special award for a Center Creative Economy Kinetics 2025 ½ sponsorship.

A Community Effort

We extend heartfelt gratitude to our incredible mentors and judges for their invaluable guidance and expertise, which were instrumental in shaping the success of our aspiring entrepreneurs. Special thanks go to all our volunteers for their tireless efforts and commitment throughout the weekend and a special shoutout to the fantastic team at Flywheel Coworking for their invaluable contributions to our community.

The Journey Continues

These types of events open doors to new opportunities and provide crucial resources for the next steps in an entrepreneurial journey. A shining example of this impact is seen with Jose Salazar, David Segebre, and Alex Teboul, who attended the Techstars Startup Weekend Winston-Salem produced by Vision to Venture and are now part of the Explore pre-accelerator program at Winston Starts. The Explore program, designed and executed by the @VisiontoVenture team, is structured into three rounds of instruction and application, designed to equip idea-stage entrepreneurs with the skills to scale their businesses regionally, nationally, or globally. The curriculum covers crucial stages including Ideation, Discovery, Competitive Analysis, and Customer/User Validation. Additionally, one will join the Center for Creative Economy’s 2025 Kinetic cohort. 

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Special thanks to our sponsors for their unwavering support. Your belief in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship is truly commendable. Together, we’re building a brighter future for entrepreneurs everywhere. 🙌



 💡NCIDEA Foundation

 💡Great Winston-Salem Inc.


 💡Center for Creative Economy 

💡 WSNC Rentals


 💡WingMe App


 💡Elite Bartender

Check out the weekend’s video here

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