The Cliff Notes

Okay, now weâ''re going to backtrack a little.

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I think I explained Startup adequately. But what does it have to do with Brooklyn Polytech? Mike Wills, (standing on the left) is a Polytech alumn. He read about Startup weekend on BEST would be a good host. Because Poly is hosting the event, 30 spaces of the 100 were reserved for Poly students. The rest of the attendees are entrepreneurs from around the New York area. Registration was first come, first served. Bruce (sitting, left) sent the email on Wednesday afternoon--registration was closed five minutes later. They were flooded. But there was no application process. If you can get a spot, you're in. I ask Andrew if that self-selection process poses any problems-- no one is screening for qualifications. He smiles. â''If youâ''re willing to show up on a Friday night after a busy work week, and work all weekend, Iâ''m guessing you're qualified."

And think about telling a university PR department (and all the other various planning entities and persons who require notification) to coordinate this event with a two-day lead time. A full weekend event, hosting 100 people, making the posters, catering the meals. Apparently it workedâ''thereâ''s a roof over everyoneâ''s head, a turkey sandwich next to my computer, and a poster hanging only slightly crooked on the wall.

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And tomorrow, theyâ''re bringing in the big guns. They donâ''t want media coverage for that, but this nascent little idea will be put through its paces by a savage horde of lawyers, accountants, PR consultants and marketing people. How feasible is it to put together a global site that ranks the best cheeseburger? How do you let people know the site is out there? How do you motivate them to add their two cents? How do you decide on the look and feel? The coders will have their work cut out for them. I doubt theyâ''ll get much sleep. On Sunday the graphic designers will design the look and the coders will be frantically tapping gobbledygook into their laptops.

And on Sunday night, the world will have a new web siteâ''either ranking cheeseburgers, harshing on bad dresses, or making you troll the internet for the IBM logo. â''Web-based businesses are probably the easiest to start, grow and maintain,â'' Bruce explains. And of course, youâ''re not going to entice a college kid with the promise of keeping inventories. Patent lawyers will have bestowed upon it a little copyright symbol. Thereâ''s no prize money for â''winning,â'' but Iâ''m told venture capitalists will be here this weekend, flush with startup cash. Thereâ''s a complicated shareholder system that I wonâ''t bother to explain, but essentially every day youâ''re here is a share. If youâ''re here on Friday, you get one share. All weekend, all three possible shares. Andrew makes a point of saying that has no shares in the company.

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