OtherStudent Entrepreneur Shares Past Portland Startup Weekend Experience as Fall Event Kicks off at PSU

Tonight, Portland Startup Weekend kicks off at Portland State University at 5 p.m. In a first for the 54-hour event in Portland, Startup Weekend is partnering with PSU to encourage students, faculty and alumni to bring their business ideas and develop new startups. What’s more, according to its website, the PSU event is hoping to attract projects beyond the event’s traditional tech focus – including food/beverage products, retail and social business. Get more details about Portland Startup Weekend PSU or get involved at http://portlandstate.startupweekend.org/

This isn’t the first time students have been involved in Startup Weekend. In fact, many may recall Startup Weekend Spring 2012, where a couple of teenagers created business ideas that won accolades at the end of the event and launched real products.

In the spirit of what promises to be an exciting Portland Startup Weekend involving many innovative students, OEN caught up with 16-year-old Grant High School student Jackson Gariety, who won last spring’s Startup Weekend awards for “best execution” and “audience favorite,” as well as “outstanding developer.”

Jackson Gariety, 16, past Portland Startup Weekend winner and co-founder of HashTraffic

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in doing a startup…
My name is Jackson Gariety, I’m 16 and I go to Grant High School. I’ve always felt the web lacked any sort of concrete categorization protocol. Since technical protocols are slow to implement, the best way is to create a social protocol. Even better, I found one that already existed, the hashtag. Apparent on Twitter and a handful of other network’s, a hashtag allows you to determine keywords in your tweet and categorize them throughout all of Twitter. My business, HashTraffic, is taking that keyword protocol to the rest web. We enable any website to use hashtags, and get discovered. In the same way that posting to Twitter with a hashtag increases your chance of getting discovered, tagging your blog post or website leads to quicker discovery to your forum, blog post, or business.

How did you get involved in Startup Weekend 2012?
I came to Startup Weekend after a recommendation to do so by Rick Turoczy, who runs the local incubator. My partner Brian & I went and talked with him to figure out where to take the idea, and he suggested PDXSW, which was coming up a few weeks later.

How did it turn out at the end of the weekend?
At the end of the weekend, we had stressed over the presentation and the business model, but in the end pulled through and gave a great demo to the attendees and judges. We showed a promo video we had created, danced around a couple business models, and showed off our MVP. The demo received a standing ovation and a number of awards.

What are you doing with it now?
Brian and I have done a friends & family round investment to finish up development, and we should be launching very soon. At the moment we’re testing the product out through a number of local conferences and events.

How & why did you both get into doing a startup at such a young age?
I’ve always been quite interested in technology. I’m a problem solver at heart, and the two go so well together these days. It’s all about timing and the right environment. Growing up with access to computers is an obvious one, but coupled with my personality it really led me to get involved in development and manipulation of technology more and more.

Will you stay involved in this fall’s Startup Weekend events and if yes, how?
Absolutely, Brian and I are putting together hashtag promotions for many conferences, people will probably see me around if they look closely.

What’s next for you both?
I’ll always be doing a startup, I suspect. On the side I work at trying to improve public education and learn about design & development. College is likely, but still a maybe. There are a million ways it could help me, but a million others that could hurt me. I’m always interested in higher education, but I’m not quite sure if now is the right time.

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